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Just about one month ago I embarked upon and successfully completed the 26.2 mile journey that constituted the Trinidad and Tobago International Marathon from Freeport to Port of Spain.

The marathon walk had no other motive than to raise awareness, attention and funding for the 10 or more Olympic Gold medals by the year 2024 athlete welfare and preparation.

I accept that there are individuals inside and outside sport who don’t share the view that the concern I am trying to highlight has merit or substance. For reasons best known to themselves they refuse to acknowledge, admit or accept that there is need to provide more meaningful financial support to the young talented and dedicated sons and daughters of our soil.

The marathon walk enjoyed its moment in the sun but like everything else the major risk is that the objectives and goals will be subsumed by the nine day wonder syndrome.

It’s a syndrome that saps the spirit as well-intentioned efforts become an exercise in futility—quickly sinking into an ocean of insincerity and hypocrisy ending up on the sea bed of frustration, meaninglessness and cynicism.

If I have to walk a marathon every single day I will however remain dedicated to the cause of our talented sons and daughters who aspire to become Olympic champions.

This is a time for choosing if we want to be a part of creating a great society.

As we go about our daily lives there is a need for us to give a full day’s work for a day’s pay.

It applies not only to those earning a salary in the private and public sector. It doesn’t matter if you are a volunteer sport administrator, an athlete or a coach. Its more than just a monetary value — it’s about the effort you give and the purpose with which you live your life.

When we give a full day’s work for a day’s pay we remain eternally vigilant and pay forward to the next generation and the generation to come. We see ourselves as custodians and stewards of the totality of the space called La Trinity—Trinidad and Tobago.

When we give a full day’s work for a full day’s work for a day’s pay we honour the notion of national pride and civic duty that builds a nation.

Great leaders such as Jesus Christ, Martin Luther King Jr, Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi have shown that a nation is first founded on the stories that it tells — and silences — to justify its existence.

Their messages and example have taught organisation and the importance of attacking the issues of the day and era. They didn’t talk around issues; they attacked them head on in the battleground of social awareness.

Those of us born and bred in the space called T&T carry in our bosoms a duty to not allow our secret frustrations to keep us from being a champion of hope to the young people of this nation. You can’t think negative thoughts and live a positive life. We can all do something of significance and life a live of purpose. The grass isn’t greener somewhere else. We have to say to the youth and young people of this nation don’t quit on yourself, your job, your life, your dream or your country. Don’t throw in the towel and walk away. Don’t just go through the motions.

Brian Lewis is the President of the T&T Olympic Committee. The views expressed are not necessarily those of the National Olympic Committee.

Support #10golds24 Athlete welfare and preparation fund. Make your donations to any branch of Scotia Bank Acc# 171188

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Sport, carnival and our Carnival mentality combined together, is a powerful force for good and may well be the key to T&T becoming a great Olympic Sport nation and the basis for a sustainable sport industry.

Nobody does carnival like we do. It can’t be explained, you have to experience the outer body bliss that is T&T carnival.

Instead of celebrating our carnival mentality, we celebrate corruption, skulduggery, mediocrity, impropriety, slipshod performance, a poor work ethic, ineptitude and incompetence.

The inherent creativity, inventiveness, work ethic, integrity, sincerity, determination and innovativeness in our carnival DNA is our strength and comparative advantage.

What allows the rank and file of our society to express and vent their frustrations, anger, and despair better than our carnival? We laugh at ourselves and get loose.

Carnival, sport, art, culture, and our music are who we are as a people and as a nation.

Yet we allow self serving tribal instincts to stand in the way of our affirmation and embrace of our Trinbagonianness.

The other point I want to touch on today is good governance.

The T&T Olympic Committee (TTOC) as the authority, voice and representative body of Olympic and Commonwealth sport has a duty, obligation and responsibility to stand up and champion the cause of sport and good sport governance without fear or favour regardless of which political party is in government.

Last week I met with Minister of Sport, Senator the Honourable Brent Sancho and Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Sport, Richard Oliver. What struck me more than their words spoken in the hour long meeting was the sincerity of their patriotic vibes and energy.

In the meeting, the TTOC made no out-of-the-ordinary financial demands. The talks focused on sport related structural, systemic and policy issues. Most importantly good governance.

There were no false airs. It was a respectful but frank exchange of views and ideas.

The kind of exchange true patriots can have when the only agenda and motive is what’s in the best interest of sport and the young people and youth involved in sport.

I expressed the view that no public funds should be handed out to any national sport organisation, governing body or club failing to meet basic principles of good governance. Sport organisations and individuals in receipt of public funds need to remember there is a freedom of information act.

There must be proper accounting for funds received and no further funding given for failure to properly account for funds received. I also shared with the new Minister the TTOC’s intention to establish a good governance code for TTOC affiliated sport organisations.

I left the Ministry of Sport encouraged that there is:

(1) a shared vision, commitment and dedication to ensure that sport in T&T is held to the highest standard of good governance possible

(2) that the best interest of the athletes is the priority

(3) that the Ministry of Sport will be a good governance role model for the sport fraternity in T&T.

(4) Minister Sancho supports 10 or more Olympic Gold medal by the year 2024 (#10golds24) and the concept of the TTOC #10golds24 Athlete Welfare and Preparation Fund.

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It’s important in life to not have regrets. Whatever you are doing or choose to do must have a compelling sense of purpose and commitment. Nothing worthwhile has ever been achieved without a high risk propensity. The fear of failure has been an insurmountable mountain for many people. No one wants to look like an utter fool or idiot.

There are no guarantees. No one can say with absolute certainty that they will achieve their stated or declared goals or objectives.

I was telling someone a few days ago that I have one mission which is to improve conditions for athletes, sportsmen and women in T&T and to do so with integrity and ethically.

I am clear in my mind that by focusing on our athletes, sportsmen and women, sport will make significant and sustainable progress.

But in doing so and in striving to achieve that mission, there are critical success factors.

Not everyone will agree with me and not everyone will see things the way I see it and that’s just fine as I respect everyone’s right to their opinion and views and to disagree with me

But having experienced first hand and intimately the highs and lows of a sporting life in T&T, I feel confident that serving our athletes, sportsmen and women and striving to create the enabling environment that will allow them to execute on their critical success factors is the right thing to do.

Should the focus be on the athletes, sportsmen and women to such an extent that other stakeholder’s interest and needs are sidelined?

That’s not what I am saying or seeking to do. What I am saying is that it’s the athletes who have to perform and by their success there is a ripple effect that will redound to the benefit of sport in general and the country by extension.

I have no problem explaining why I am focused on athletes but there are people in decision making and policy making positions who prefer to speculate and naysay without asking me why?

I am a phone call away and will be more than happy to have a cordial discussion.

Mine is a simple perspective: fix things for the athletes, sportsmen and women especially those who have the potential to be successful at the elite and Olympic level.

The history of our sport has been one where sportsmen and women have carried the burden of sporting success no matter how that success is measured.

T&T has benefitted in more ways than one from the success of our dedicated sportsmen and women.

For how long will the cries of our sportsmen and women go unheeded and ignored?

Those who choose to ignore the reality on the ground can feel free to do so. I have no intention of turning away from what I know from firsthand experience to be the real story.

In an effort to raise public awareness and kick start fund raising, I am participating in the Trinidad International Marathon.

I am as determined to finish the 26 mile journey as I am confident that setting a target of 10 or more Olympic gold medals by the year 2024 is the right objective as is establishing a dedicated T&T Olympic Committee (TTOC) Athlete Welfare and Preparation Fund that is independent and non-governmental.

The #10golds24 Athlete Welfare and Preparation fund enables the public, former national sportsmen and women, fans and supporters of sport and corporate T&T to contribute and financially support athletes who aspire to qualify for the Olympics and be an Olympic champion.

We all have choices in life but whatever choice you make remember action speaks louder than words.

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The decision to walk the 26.2 distance in the T&T International Marathon had a twofold motive—to raise awareness and funding for the 10 Olympic medals or more by the year 2024 #10golds24 athlete welfare and preparation fund.

Many have asked what I was thinking about when I decided to do the marathon. My main thought was the athletes and what could I do to raise awareness and support for the concept of a fund dedicated to athletes.

In the lead up to the marathon and since successfully completing the marathon the expressions of support have far exceeded the negatives.

Now the hard work will be to get the funding to match the expressions of support.

Raising awareness is not sufficient or good enough. This is not a one-and-done journey.

There will be many trials and tribulations, but what will prove essential is the spirit of resilience and perseverance.

I believe in the very core of my being that the talent we have here is enormous and that the reality is that many of our young athletes have greatness and the potential to be great inside of them.

What they need is the support and people around them who can nurture their self-belief.

I believe that our athletes are capable. I believe that this country can produce more Olympic champions.

Not everyone has to believe that it is possible. We just need a small band of determined and dedicated enablers who have the conviction that our young people deserve a chance.

During my walk, at one of the lowest points when I was hurting mentally, physically and emotionally, a little girl about eight or nine years old standing on the pavement near a water stop gave me a donation of $85 dollars. I recall looking at the little girl and at her donation and saying to Sgt Roger Daniel: “I have to finish.” That little girl represented why I was doing the walk. She reminded me that the children, youth and young people as represented by the nation’s athletes wanted to aspire for something greater.

It is a moment and an interaction I will never forget because it served to shake me out of a moment of self-doubt.

#10GOLDS24 is an affirmation that we can aspire and achieve big goals. It’s a dare and a challenge. Do we have what it takes? Do we believe that we can achieve Olympic greatness?

That so many people have expressed their support is a clear indication that many of us have the self-belief that we deserve better than we are currently getting.

All that has happened over the years is that we were brainwashed into thinking that we didn’t have what was required and therefore must be grateful for small mercies.

I enjoyed the walk. It was tough, but I enjoyed it.

The teamwork, the support, the camaraderie.

On two occasions I had to receive treatment for severe cramp but at no time did those walking with me suggest that I would have to quit.

Quitting just wasn’t on the cards.

So where do we go from here? How do we build on the momentum of the successful completion of the marathon walk?

Time will tell. But rest assured there is no turning back.

#10GOLDS24 Athlete welfare and preparation is underway.

Donations are required on an ongoing basis and can be made at any Scotia Bank. The TTOC’s account number is 171188 or by cheque made payable to TTOC and mailed to or dropped off at Olympic House 121 Abrecromby Street, Port-of-Spain.

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Trinidad and Tobago’s Under 20 men’s team suffered their first defeat, going down disappointingly 2-0 to Guatemala on Wednesday but are still very much in the race to secure one of two World Cup playoff spots at the CONCACAF Championship in Jamaica.

The loss on Wednesday left T&T in fourth place with four points and a plus-two goal difference, level  on  points with United States who are ahead on a plus-seven goal difference after their 8-0 win over Aruba.
Panama are atop the group with nine points and Guatemala are second on seven. Jamaica are fifth with one point, while Aruba remain in the cellar position.
T&T have it in their own hands as victories in their next encounter against Panama on Sunday and against the USA next Wednesday in Montego Bay, are likely to push them into the playoffs from which the top two teams will advance to the FIFA Under-20 World Cup in New Zealand.
Head Coach Derek King expressed his disappointment with the manner in which T&T conceded and gave away Wednesday’s match to the Central Americans.
T&T outshot their opponents 11 to one but Martieon Watson’s unfortunate 25th minute own goal and a disastrous error by goalkeeper Johan Welch in the 88th proved to be the difference.
“I’m very disappointed because we were outstanding in the first 20 minutes. They scored against the run of play, the own goal off Watson. They didn’t create any chances until late in the game. In our final third we were still rushing that final pass which wasn’t always on but we still created a number of chances,” King told TTFA Media.
“Guatemala only dropped off and kept their shape and it worked for them, It’s a tough loss to accept because we were better on the day but the result went in their favour. Goals win matches and now we have to fix that for our next two games.”
King emphasised the importance of T&T bouncing back in their remaining two matches.
“Panama and USA will be very tough but we have it in our hands. We have a few days before those two games in Montego Bay and we’ll have to regroup and try to come back strong to keep the dream alive,” he added.

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