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Ball in your court, Sport Ministry

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

As this country celebrates its recent success in sports, there is a certain bitter taste in the air.

Success, while pleasing, brings a bedfellow called “real” support, not merely “talk” support and this is an area of grave concern.

Within the last seven days, T&T’s women volleyballers and the national men’s indoor hockey team have both qualified for respective World Championships.

For the women, it is their first ever world event and they will also be the only English-speaking Caribbean country at these championships and first ever to achieve success. History that cannot be denied or ever eroded.

If you know Mushtaque Mohammed as I have for over 15 years, then you know this was a labour of love that has finally reaped rewards. It has been a phenomenal battle fought by a man who eats, sleeps and probably dreams volleyball.

Then there is hockey, where our men, playing away from home and missing a few players, virtually grabbed all the world headlines with sensational victory after victory over powerhouses like Argentina and Canada.

Yet again, Douglas Camacho, the man currently in charge of hockey in this country, is a true pioneer, whose passion for this sport is only matched by his widely appreciated business acumen.

Incidentally, both men (Mohammed and Camacho) have T&T Olympic Committee (TTOC) prowess in their genes. However, both men are faced with a dilemma, how can they explain to these brave women and men of T&T who fought against the odds, that they have “no money”, that there is “no funding” according to the Ministry of Sports for these events, after all, it was not budgeted for so how can the sporting organisations expect funding for both an “improbable and impossible act” of qualifying for world events.

And less you believe, that the Ministry of Sports is mad or just plain dumb and delinquent then as my lawyer friend tells me, there is precedent for this “madness”. After all, let us throw our minds back to London in August, when the 4x400 metres team shocked the world and won gold, without any financial or other support from the Ministry of Sports, in fact some of our athletes have not even received their 2015 elite funding as I write this.

So when, the Ministry of Sports accepts the plaudits (from itself) for these successes, they hold very hollow in the stairs of sporting people in this country, who are aware of the reality.

Therefore, it would appear that these associations would have to hope and pray that corporate T&T (which has not been given any proper working tax incentive) will generously come forward to support our volleyball and hockey teams next year.

Is it too much to ask that special dispensation be given for these tremendous achievements and can we imagine what is possible, if both teams now receive the required funding for adequate preparation for these events.

Yes, as the United States fans reminded us, we are only 1.3 million and they are 300-odd million but our footballers put them on their collective backsides at home to watch the 2018 World Cup in Russia so it is possible that our volleyballers and hockey players can wreak further damage on their respective sporting worlds.

Mr Minister (Sports or Finance?), to care or not to care, at the end of the day, let us hope that people in this country will not in the future be asked to – Remember the Name…Remember the Name – of the one who had a chance for the sporting hemisphere in this country to grow and instead opted to be silent and stay within the party politics line, not willing to fight for those who continue to give this country so much.

By the way, do you know the name?


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