OVER $5 million in monetary rewards were disbursed yesterday to dozens of athletes and national teams who medalled at recent major international competitions or qualified for the first time for major world sporting events.
The athletes or their representatives received their cheques at the National Racquet Sport Centre, Tacarigua in an event held simultaneously with a launch of the Ministry of Sport’s 2017-2027 National Policy on Sport.
The rewards fall under the Incentives and Rewards Framework of the sport policy.
Among the recipients were individual and team medallists at the 2018 Central America and Caribbean (CAC) Games, 2018 Commonwealth Games, 2017 World Para Athletics along with the men’s hockey team and women’s volleyball teams who qualified for their first ever World Championships.
According to Minister of Sport Shamfa Cudjoe who delivered the feature address, there will be another distribution of rewards in December.
In the address, Cudjoe said the original intention was to reward only Olympic and World Championships (medallists), “(but) we just continued to add and add.
She said there was resistance from some who found it unnecessary to reward athletes who did not medal at the truly marquee world events.
“It’s not that the Cabinet and Government doesn’t know what they’re doing,” she said, adding, “(The addition of categories for) those who will receive funding is a deliberate effort in order to attract young people to that level of competition.”
She stressed, “It’s not about only rewarding the athletes after they have won, but providing the necessary support to elite athletes and to athletes in the formative years.”
Cudjoe said the framework was unanimously approved by cabinet earlier this year and the implementation of the policy began well ahead of yesterday’s launch.
The next step, she said, is the plan for full implementation which will include the framework. The framework is expected to include details of the amount of funds an athlete will receive per medal or for qualifying for the Olympics or a World Championships.
While the amount of money each athlete received was not disclosed at the function, Cudjoe, who was interviewed after the event, said some athletes would have earned “more than $200,000 to $300,000 depending on the categories they medalled in.”