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After arch rivals South Africa had beaten the New Zeaand rugby team for the third straight time in 2009, New Zealand captain Richie McCaw laid an All Black jersey in front of his men at the Heritage Hotel and said: "There have been some great men who spilt blood for this jersey, made sacrifices. The toughness, ruthlessness, power, pace. The want. That's got to come from within, the inner desire if that's what it takes."

The above quote is an apt summary of what representing your country is about. All sportsmen and women can attest to that deep down emotional resonance. National pride. Sport stakeholders have national pride and commitment in abundance. It’s the power of sport. As we head into the final three weeks of general election campaigning,  many questions are being asked and platform promises are aplenty.

A question that come to mind is: are the political parties mindful that sport stakeholders have a vote? What will be the future like for sport in T&T? Will the cuts and belt tighten have a devastating impact on sport? What are the respective parties’ policy regarding to sport? Under which party and government will sport be better served?

There are pertinent questions that have to be asked by sport stakeholders. If sport is going to be looked at in the usual way then it is going to be a long hard road. Harbour no illusions of grandeur. If sport is to achieve any semblance of sustainable progress, growth and development it requires a quantum leap forward.

Sport stakeholders have a vote and like all citizens sport stakeholders have a stake in determining what T&T will look like post September 7. A fundamental, foundational and radical change in thinking is needed for sport to thrive in the coming years. The reality of falling oil and gas revenues is not an illusion. Sport stakeholders must value their vote.

These days are not the best of times for harried sport administrators,  athletes, coaches and sport clubs, sport fans and supporters and sport club members. Any one with a passion and keen interest in sport in T&T will be failing in their duty, responsibility and obligation if they didnt give serious consideration to the future of sport. 

So much is still needed to be done to develop a sporting culture in T&T. With media houses cutting back on the alloted time and space for sport in the election frenzy, it is very clear that sport is low down on the national value chain. Sport has a vote and that vote should not be taken for granted or underestimated. 

Sport has the power to make a difference in all areas of national life. If, however, sport stakeholders don’t have respect for their collective power then don’t expect anyone else to take sport seriously. Sport in T&T should not allow itself to be designated as insignificant and unimportant. It has been said that you can’t win or lose a general election on the basis of a lack of a sport policy or because you have one.

That may well be so but we are in changing times. Post  September 7, sport will move up the national value chain and be a serious topic on the national agenda. Sport matters. Sport has a vote and sport can and will make a positive difference.

Brian Lewis is the President of the Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee. The views expressed are not necessarily those of the Olympic Committee.  Support #10 Golds24 Athlete Welfare and Preparation Fund make your donations to any branch of Scotiabank account number 171188

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The average person will tell you almost anything can be done. There is an old saying; all big ideas meet with opposition and all big things have been accomplished by men and women who stuck to their big idea. Tomorrow, Rio 2016 will celebrate one year to go to the opening ceremony of the first ever Olympic Games in South America.

The Olympics is about setting big goals. Rio and Brazil had a dream to host an Olympic Games. The South American nation hosted the 2007 Pan Am Games as a test of their capabilities. They would have learned some valuable lessons and used those lessons and experiences to inform their winning bid.

In the face of some well-publicised issues including the awful state of the location for sailing, Rio is in a stepped up mode with one year to go. Their ambition to host a successful Olympic Games is upon them. For national Olympic committees one year to go is also an important milestone since there is an intensity and focus that is elevated. The pressure starts to build.

With the increased focus on Rio 2016, sponsors wake up to the opportunity  but in most cases the long-standing partners become very rigorous in ensuring that their rights are activated. One year to go to Rio. The realisation that the big moment is on the horizon. Marketing efforts start to mount.
Rio 2016 one year to go.

Reports suggest that about 500,000 visitors will travel to Rio next year. Airlines will be stretched to the max. Finding accommodation is going to be challenging and with an Olympic premium.  The Rio Olympic Organisers have signed Airbnb. In respect of the commercial use of the Olympic properties there are standards, protection of the value of the Olympic properties.

The use of the Olympic properties must be aligned with the Olympic values. Any use of Olympic properties that is perceived to devalue the Olympic Movement, the Olympic Games, and that detract from the Olympic ideals will not be approved. All rights to the Olympic symbol and other Olympic properties belong exclusively to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and can only be used with the express prior written consent of the IOC.

It is important for the public and corporate T&T to appreciate that the role of partners in promoting the Olympic Movement and the Olympic values must not be underestimated. Olympic partners play a vital role in communicating the Olympic symbol by sponsorship activation not only during the period of the Olympic Games, but 365 days a year.

Everyone associated with the Olympic Games have big ideas and goals. The T&T Olympic Committee and its athletes, coaches, managers and administrators and medical support staff also have high aspirations. One year to go to Rio. One year to go is for some a wake up call, while for others it’s simply another phase in a well structured long term plan.

It is going to be an exciting but challenging 365 days.

Brian Lewis is the president of the T&T Olympic Committee. The views expressed are not necessarily those of the Olympic Committee. Support #10 Golds24 Athlete Welfare and Preparation Fund make your donations to any branch of Scotiabank account number 171188.

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The 21st century environment requires a nimbleness of thought and decision-making on a daily basis that is proving challenging for almost every sport leader. Having to focus daily on growing the sport you lead while working with key stakeholders from all over the globe, while at the same time addressing national needs, is at best interesting and at worst simply overwhelming.

In T&T, a huge challenge is to return sport participation to previous levels and then manage exponential growth strategically  in a sustainable way. Making choices that are best for the long term viability of sport becomes the strategic priority. Building the understanding and trust across the various stakeholders is also necessary.

Adding value to stakeholders, who are in essence clients, require balancing the increasing demands inherent in a member based non-profit organisation that also functions in a burgeoning commercial industry. Coming up with strategies for the direction of the NSO, specifically on the business development side is proving a significant step up for every single NSO.

Most sport leaders are facing the hard question: how to balance their love of sport with the business of sport while at the same time facing up to the realities of the political side of sport. There need to be some hard choices made; the resistance to change is powerful and influential. Moving local sport forward is a journey. And like every journey it starts with a single step with obstacles to overcome along the way.

Where is T&T on that journey from developing a strategy to making important decisions and delivering on objectives what is our guide? How do we position sport in T&T for accelerated growth? How do we position T&T as an emerging force in global sport? How can we integrate the diverse objectives and agendas to develop a united strategy?

I remain convinced that T&T provides the near perfect stage to develop and sustain a powerful presence in the theatre that is global sport. T&T is alive with potential. Sport talent and potential is in our DNA. What will it take for policy makers and manifesto drafters in the political realm to wake up to the untapped value of sport?

Modern sport is a diverse business. Setting goals, single minded focus on success, being a team player are all leadership skills that are developed from playing sport. NSOs are responsible for governing their sport, following rules and regulations as established by their international federations and at the same time providing member organisations with increasingly demanding service expectations, often in the face of tremendous financial difficulties.

The person ultimately responsible for the strategic direction and implementation for the NSO, for understanding its strengths and weaknesses, is its president. The president must be able to demonstrate the full range of modern leadership skills commonly found in successful corporate and commercial enterprises.

The ability to serve, inspire, motivate, empower, guide and attract the best people. The NSOs brand, image, reputation and commercial value can either be enhanced or diminished by the leader. However, notwithstanding all that has been said previously, the most important people in any sport organisation are the athletes not the sport leaders.

Next week we will take a look at the national sport policy which should be the document that provides the guide and systemic framework for all local sport stakeholders including the Ministry of Sport and Sport Company T&T. Brian Lewis is the president of the T&T Olympic Committee. The views expressed are not necessarily those of the Olympic Committee.

•Support #10Golds24 Athlete Welfare and Preparation Fund. Make your donation at any branch of Scotiabank TTOC Account #171188. Share the Olympic Dream.

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The goal of achieving 10 or more Olympic Gold medals by the year 2024 created debate. There were those who felt, and probably still do, that its unrealistic.  They think that making the leap from two Olympic champions to 10 by 2024 is beyond real. Then there are those who understand that achieving that goal must first begin in the mind.

What comes next?  Having accepted mentally that achieving  10 golds is possible and is not out of reach, the next step is how are we  going to get those 10 or more gold medals. The  Olympic Committee has conducted a survey and a follow up is now due. The survey and other research based sources are aimed at providing important data and  analysis.

Budgets have to be done. Assessments,monitoring and evaluation. What are the targets and projections? These specific targets must be established within the context of a long term athlete development programme. Harnessing the abundant talent and potential can be done if there is a systematic approach. Winning medals are the end result of a systematic approach be it local or foreign.

When one considers the performances of T&T on the sporting stage in recent weeks. It’s about time that we put our collective energies to work. We can make a name a positive name for T&T on the global sport stage. I accept that based on all the economic experts T&T is facing a daunting economic future. The predictions are that who ever wins the upcoming national election must make some hard decisions.

That being so. There may well be the view that sport is surplus to requirements. It is hoped that this is not going to be the attitude towards sport. Give T&T sport a fighting chance. Double even triple the allocations to sport. But put in effective monitoring and evaluation systems.  Get the key stakeholders involved. Let them say what they want.

The funny thing is that even as this column is calling to triple the allocation, we are mindful that certain changes require an attitudinal and mindset change more than a monetary one. It can be done. Lets give it a really good go. With one year to go to Rio Olympics lets put  a huge effort behind a podium quest.

Lets aim to exceed the London 2012 medal count. Be not afraid of the challenge. Lets not be intimidated. Lets go for it. There is little margin for error with 365 days to go to Rio 2016. Let me take this opportunity to congratulate this country's Toronto 2015 Pan Am Games team, Soca Warriors and The Red Steel. They all lifted the spirits of a nation buffeted by an intolerable crime situation.

The joy that spreads through the nation because of the positive exploits on the field of sport is there for all to see. Time and time again sport has delivered. What more can sport do to prove its case? T&T,  the dawn of a new golden era for sport is at hand. Lets not blow it because of short sightedness.

Brian Lewis is the president of the T&T Olympic Committee. The views expressed are not necessarily those of the Olympic Committee. 
Support #10Golds24 Athlete Welfare and Preparation Fund make your donations to any branch of Scotiabank account number 171188.

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The National Lotteries Control  Board  (NLCB) has formalised its partnership with the Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee  (TTOC ). The historic agreement resulted in the creation by the NLCB of a new instant money (Scratch ) game called Going For Gold that will carry the #10golds24 logo. The projected contribution is $200,000 with potential to generate one million dollars or more  per annum.

The upper end is an ambitious target that will require the Going for Gold game to be extremely popular and well supported by the public. It’s a start compared to what is received from national lottery funding  in other countries. Aside from the cash injection into the Ten or more Olympic Gold medals by the year 2024 Athlete Welfare and Preparation fund, there are a number of other athlete focused elements such as internship, ongoing training etc.

But the real win for the TTOC and NLCB is the creation of a new paradigm in respect of thinking outside the box. The willingness to come up with new answers to old questions is a credit to the decision makers at NLCB. Senior executives at NLCB were focused on creative solutions so as to support the TTOC to meet challenges and optimise opportunties.

How can we get sport in T&T to flourish? One of the key priorities is to take the guess work out of how sport is funded. What are our most important financial goals? Is our financial resources the determining factor in how we are able to plan and acheive set targets? There are pros and cons to everything.

Some of our athletes are extremely motivated to work hard to acheive their Olympic dreams and goals. Their motivation is evident. NLCB is a wonderful example of a corporate/state entity committed to finding a way to help and support the Olympic Dream. Our athletes are dedicated. They  have national pride and are fiercely competitive. To build a successful career in elite sport requires those three attributes among others in abundance.

Our athletes  matter. They have an unbridled excitement and enthusiasm and determination to give their all for their country. They have stories that everyone should hear. Since 1997, when national lottery funding was introduced to directly help British Olympic and Paralympic sport, Team GB has become one of the leading Olympic nations in the world.

Their legendary Olympic great Sir Chris Hoy has said without dedicated national lottery funding he would not have achieved his Olympic dreams. The British approach to national lottery funding for Olympic sport is now being adopted by a number of other countries.

So while the NLCB Going for Gold Instant Money Game rolled out to the public on Monday is new, it is not unprecedented around the world. It is a first and historic step to advance the discussion for T&T to follow the British approach to national lottery funding for Olympic sport. UK national lottery funding is supporting the stories of courage and resilience of British athletes who aspire to win Olympic medals and become Olympic Champions.

I believe a similar, dedicated and specific national lottery funding approach that is transparent and accountable will have a huge and transformative impact on Olympic sport here. To acheive the target of ten or more Olympic gold medals, the first challenge is for the NLCB and TTOC to ensure that the Going for Gold Instant Money Game is a success.

Brian Lewis is the President of the T&T Olympic Committee. The views expressed are not necessarily those of the Olympic Committee. Support #10 Golds24 Athlete Welfare and Preparation Fund make your donations to any branch of Scotiabank account number 171188.

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