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Remove barriers for sport to be more inclusive

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Sport at this point in time in its history is in a deep and intense battle to rise up from the fog of tradition and its status quo into the modern world.

The search for equilibrium between its values and the quest to make those values relevant. Hard as the task may be, it’s the realisation that the barriers of the mind in most cases are extremely high and fortified.

Knowing what to hold on to; what to adapt; what to change; what to let go. How do we move forward? Sport is in danger of being overrun by the sheer scale of the dynamism of most societies around the world.

Here in T&T and the Caribbean we aren’t immune. There are complex questions that demand simple answers and simple questions that require complex answers. It’s knowing the difference that is proving to at times be an insurmountable challenge.

Add to the equation geopolitical, sociocultural and socioeconomic realties, interpretations and guagmires. At times it seems to be not just a maze but a cul de sac. A mental and emotional dead end. The search for clarity.

Women and men at the roundtable surfing the waves of history and tradition.

Sport didn’t create racism, sexism, and homophobia—it just provides a platform. The real challenge is a culture of denial and privelege.

In the cloistered world of its euro centric moorings, the reality has not as yet come home. As such in most thought processes traditional group think it is both a barrier and a protection.

But this is not the time to sit idly and quietly and fiddle oblivious to the reality that not only is the emperor naked but Mt Vesuvius has erupted. The time for change is now.

But all is not lost as there are important and necessary steps and people who understand that doing nothing isn’t an option.

From November 28-30, some 100 participants from all 41 National Olympic Committees (NOCs) in the americas took part in a forum aimed at empowering and training women working in sport and the Olympic movement to excel as leaders.

The forum for “Women Leaders in Sport” in the Americas, co-organised by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the Peruvian NOC and the Pan-American Sports Organisation (PASO) in Lima, Peru was more than a talk shop as hard questions were asked and frank conversations had, but the real proof is what happens next. What will be done to bridge the cleavage between talk and action?

During the three-day forum, the participants went through intensive coaching and training combined with discussions and mentoring sessions with the help of a team of professional trainers. Men and women leaders (presidents) in the region as well as Olympians also took part to support and contribute to the exchanges on gender differences.

The participants shared their views and helped to identify solutions which could help to make change possible.

However, the issue of diversity and inclusion can’t be complete without addressing the IOCs executive board need to be more diverse. In addition the opening up of the Olympic movement in a meaningful way to LGBTs (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender). These are discussions that must be had.

Diversity, equality and inclusion within the IOC and the Olympic movement can no longer be about tokenism or symbolism.

EDITOR’S NOTE

Brian Lewis is the president of the T&T Olympic Committee. The views expressed are necessarily those of the National Olympic Committee.

The forum for “Women Leaders in Sport” in the Americas, co-organised by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the Peruvian NOC and the Pan-American Sports Organisation (PASO) in Lima, Peru was more than a talk shop as hard questions were asked and frank conversations had, but the real proof is what happens next. What will be done to bridge the cleavage between talk and action?

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