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Budget woes for Sports again

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

So yet again, Sports is a priority. Yes it is. You don’t believe me.

The Minister of Finance, Colm Imbert, said as much, he did, in the almost four hour speech on the economy, he gave sports all of three paragraphs or was it four, not certain, but it was at least seven minutes.

And the Minister (not the Minister of Sports), but the Minister of Finance stated that in Sports, the concentration was going to be on three main core items, 1) Services, 2) Events and 3) Infrastructure. All part of the greater picture, which enveloped a landscape of Sports Tourism. This, I must add, is the same Sports Tourism that has been tossed around like a rejected and neglected cure for an age-old sickness, known as “say it but don’t mean it.”

We were also told the Sports Commission is coming, which may mean or could mean, that the Sports Company of Trinidad and Tobago is going or gone. Ultimately, when both Gerard Ferreira and Ken Butcher established the Sports Company, following the Australian model, all those years ago (at least ten), that was the plan to evolve towards a commission, which would possibly prevent some of the problems the Sports Company and their bedfellow, the Ministry of Sport have encountered not only at night, but in the day as well.

Interestingly, when Guardian Sports Media caught up with the Minister of Sports, Daryl Smith, mere hours after the budget, he cut a forlorn figure in saying that, the TT$388 million that was announced by the Minister of Finance was “just a budget”. And to that, we have to ask Minister Smith, “Yes Daryl, really, we know it is a budget.”

But Minister Smith continued, “We ask for A, and then we are told B and then when time for releases we get C…”

Does all of this suggest, people, that the Minister of Sports, is already making excuses for a cut in subvention for Sports in this country, this after everyone keeps saying that sports can save lives and can change a person’s future. Clearly Sports under Minister Smith is about saving only a few persons existence and changing only a few persons future.

The Minister in his interview with Guardian Media Sports, that “there is a new Permanent Secretary, Mrs Duke.”

Really Minister, Really. Another permanent secretary is that three or four or five since you have been Minister. Quite frankly, I have lost count. And what is worse, this cannot be good for the Ministry, when the second highest position in Sports, is a revolving chair. Something has to be wrong with that, in terms of both policy and position, for the interest of continuity.

In this country, Sports is a great topic, after all according to the Minister of Finance, not only himself and members of the cabinet, but also many of the Opposition all enjoyed the success of the Trinbago Knight Riders at the Brian Lara Stadium. I am certain the occasion was made better by them all sipping on coconut water!

When the Minister (not the Minister of Sports) of Finance, spoke of the joy and the appreciation on having our national flag raised at both the World Championships with the 4x400 men’s relay team and Akeem Stewart’s medals in the Para Athletics World Championships, I could only shake my head. And I am certain that many in sports shook theirs as well because to date there has been little done to help men, who have financial commitments to reach and attain what they did for this country.

I guess to the Minister (not the Minister of Sports) of Finance, the fact that he mentioned them in the budget and they have given national awards is good enough.

The Minister of Sports and the Minister of Finance, appear to agree on one thing, that the Elite programme for coaches and athletes must continue, however, if we can unravel the contents of such without needing a shovel and a bucket, that will be not as messy, as the current state of Sports administration in some areas in this country.


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