In an effort to bring more athletes and fans to our shores, the Sport Company of T&T (SporTT) sent two officials to the recently held World Market in London.

A mission from T&T organised by the Ministry of Tourism left these shores for the event and CEO of SporTT, Adrian Raymond saw it as an opportunity to advertise this country’s sports facilities, as well as gain valuable information on operating systems for the mega facilities currently under construction.

Representing SporTT were Kyron Serette and Natasha Nunez. Serette speaking on the Sports Drive on Heritage Radio said: “This was a fantastic opportunity for us to take part in the world market. What we found is that people normally view us here in the Caribbean as just a holiday destination but we were able to get to officials from many of the participating countries to let them know that we have a lot to offer.”

Nunez who is a communications officer at SporTT said: “A number of them were surprised to know that we have these great facilities on hand. Now teams can come here for camps ahead of major world events and this is what we are focussing on. So it is not just about having teams coming here for competitions.

“We have world class facilities under construction at the moment and are due to be completed soon.

“Sporting associations around the world can now send their teams to our country and in addition to having great weather for training, they can also enjoy the wonderful facilities and the added on is of course our lovely beaches. The people in our country are also warm and open and this is something we need to allow them to know as well.”

Both Nunez and Serette also took the opportunity to move away from the proceedings of the World Market and visit many places of interest, in terms of sport development.

According to Serette: “We visited SPORT England and whilst there, we were able to get very valuable information in terms of sport development and facility management.

“We have the Aquatic Centre, the Cycling Velodrome, the Tennis Centre and many other smaller facilities that can be used by international athletes. We were able to bring back information that could be used to enhance the facilties.

“For instance, when we visited the English Cycling Centre we noticed simple things that we did not know, like making sure the doors to the facility opened outwards.

“By doing this the cyclists are not affected by the air moving in and out of the building. Then there are other aspects of design that might be costly right now but is something we can implement as we go along.”

Nunez was particularly impressed with the Swimming arena in London, saying: “They had adjustable floors in their diving pools and practice pools, so they could have easily varied the depth of the pool. We were lucky to witness these things because now we can assist by giving this information to our technical people.”

Serette ended by saying that all this information gained could come to nothing with follow up and they have since been in contact with all the officials, they met since their arrival home and they have promised to open bi-lateral communication for all concerned.

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Former national footballers Shaka Hislop and Kelvin Jack are today applauding Government’s decision to invest $32.6 million towards the development of grassroot football in T&T.

The athletes who represented this country at the Fifa World Cup Germany in 2006, said once this initiative was sustained, this country would never be in short supply of proven talent from which to draw.

They believed this move would always ensure that the standard of football to be witnessed at varying levels was delivered with the approval of the national community and admired the world over.

Finance Minister Larry Howai, during his 2014/2015 budget presentation, said the state made significant progress in establishing and enabling framework, comprising infrastructure, management and coaching, talent building, welfare of elite athletes and sport tourism.

“We are building on the existing infrastructure: the technical framework to support the development of football throughout the country has been put in place at an annual cost of $36.2 million; the five multi-purpose stadia have been or are now being upgraded; and community sporting groups and national governing bodies are continuing to receive financial assistance,” the minister said.

Jack commended the state for taking the initiative, but believed such a programme needed ten times that amount.

“But if that is what they can allocate right now, so be it. But without a doubt they would need more money than that. That’s only 3.2 million pounds. It’s a lot of money, but it isn’t a lot of money if you know what I am saying; if you want to go the way of development.

He added, “They needed to have the right people running it. That’s the crucial issue here. The right people must be running these programmes; people who understand football; people who (are) qualified in coaching football; people who are good at imparting knowledge. It’s brilliant that the money is there to do it, but they need to put the right people in place to run this programme or else it’s not going to be successful.”

Asked if he believed the time had come for the former Soca Warriors to get involved in the sustained development of T&T football, Jack responded affirmatively.

Depending on which of them would be interested in getting involved, he said, T&T had a lot of knowledge to gain from this type of engagement.

Should these calibre of players be approached and accede to the request, said Jack, local football would surely progress.

“The problem is that TTFA is not interested in tapping into that knowledge. You have all these players here—the only players that have ever gone to a World Cup final—and you haven’t used it (their knowledge). They (TTFA) went on a trip the other day overloaded with staff. Sheldon Phillips brought his dad (Lincoln Phillips) on board as goal keeping coach.

“No disrespect to Lincoln Phillips who had a great playing career and good coaching career, but it is time for the younger brigade to get involved. So far, they have been unwilling to utilise these players who were part of the most successful team of T&T’s history,” Jack said.

Hislop, an ESPN football commentator and newly appointed Fifa influential International Football Association Board (IFAB) board member said, too often, local football and the financing of it is focused on the top tier of our game, in particular, the national team.

“I have been critical in the past. For years, when World Cup comes about there’s a lot of shouting and screaming and howling about the national team. How much money the Government, the corporate sector or whoever it maybe is putting behind the national team to qualify for the next World Cup. I have been very critical of that approach. As a fan, I am equally animated every four years when it comes around. But in all honesty, I have always felt that for us to consistently threaten to qualify for the World Cup, we have to take a long term view or our game and the development of it,” he said.

Hislop added, “Our planning for World Cup 2018 should have started a decade ago. I think the development and this announcement buys into that thinking.

“We have to start developing. We have to start preparing our young athletes at the earliest possible level, because I feel it’s such a steep learning curve and we are already at a disadvantage to most nations simply because of our country’s size and the player pool that a population of 1.5 million can afford. We have to do other things and I think this is a significant step in that direction,” he said.

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The T&T contingent displayed top performances in table tennis and swimming as action continued yesterday at the Central American and Caribbean Games (CAC) in Veracruz, Mexico.

Table-Tennis

At the Omega Complex in the men’s doubles last-eight, T&T pair Curtis Humphreys and Dexter St Louis dumped David Vila and Isaac Vila of Dominican Republic 12-10, 11-9, 11-8 and come up against  Mexicans, Guillermo Munoz and Ricardo Villa who defeated Venezuelans, Luis Diaz and Marco Navas 6-11, 11-6, 12-10, 11-1 in the semifinals.

In the women’s doubles, T&T duo Rheann Chung and Ashley Quashie were stopped by Venezuelans Gremlis Arvelo and Roxy Gonzalez 6-11, 9-11, 9-11 in their last-eight encounter. Last night in the mixed doubles, Humphreys and Quashie faced Jamaicans Simon Tomlinson and Yvonne Foster, while Aaron Wilson and Catherine Spicer battled the Dominican Republic pair of Isaac Vila and Johenny Valdez in the round-of-32.

On Monday in the women’s singles Chung defeated Karla Britto of Dominican Republic 11-5, 11-4, 11-7 and Guatemala’s Andrea Montoya 11-3, 11-8, 11-6 in Group Five; Quashie went under to Puerto Rican Melanie Diaz 5-11, 5-11, 2-11 but was then awarded a walkover win against Barbadian Angela Reid in Group Nine.

Venezuelan Wimberly Montero stopped T&T’s Spicer 11-5, 11-8, 7-11, 11-9 while the latter was also beaten by Cuban Idalys Lovet 5-11, 3-11, 4-11 in Group 13.

And in the men’s singles St Louis was upstaged in his opener by Cuban Jorge Campos 5-11, 6-11, 7-11 before beating El Salvador’s Erick Avilez 6-11, 11-3, 13-11, 11-1 in Group Three; teenager Aaron Wilson beat Jamaican Michael Hyatt 7-11, 4-11, 11-5, 11-9, 11-5 before losing to Cuban Yohan Morra 5-11, 11-1, 5-11 in Group Eight; and in Group 12, Guatemala’s Hector Gatica defeated Humphreys 11-7, 11-3, 11-6 while the latter humbled Honduran Miguel Sarmiento 11-2, 11-7, 11-9.

Boating

On Monday in Boating at the Tuxpan River, T&T’s Satyam Maharaj was seventh in the men’s KI 200m final with a 1:00.998 clocking while Keian Huggins placed sixth in the women’s final,  with a 1:11.242 timing.

Shooting

Roger Daniel got bronze in the men’s 10m Air Pistol final with 175.8 points behind Cuban gold medalist Jorge Grau (201.1) and Mexican Maurilio Morales who took silver with 196.8.

In the morning qualifying session, Daniel also had the third best tally from his six sectors with 570 point to trail Grau (573) and Morales (571) while T&T’s two other competitors, Rodney Allen (545) and Clement Marshall (527) were 22nd and 31st overall.

And in the Men’s 10m Air Pistol Team competition, the trio of Daniel, Allen and Marshall combined for 1,642  points for sixth spot while in the women’s individual compound archery competition, Neela Cezair was 19th with 631 points.

Swimming

Over at the Leyes de Reforma Aquatic Centre, swimmer, Abraham Mc Leod qualified for the men’s 50m breaststroke final which was also contested last night, after he was second in 28.92 behind Venezuelan Carlos Clavarie (28.84) in their heat while his brother Joshua Mc Leod contested the men’s 50m butterfly final from lane two.

Volleyball

At the Cordoba Sports Arena, Willis sisters, Angela and Verania closed with 20 and 16 points, respectively to lead Costa Rica women over T&T, 25-19, 25-19, 25-14 in their final round-robin volleyball match.

For T&T, Channon Thompson and Sinead Jack finished with seven points each in the third loss from as many matches while they will next the loser fo one of the two quarterfinals, featuring Mexico/Colombia and Cuba/Costa Rica.

Puerto Rico defeated Mexico and clinched their second victory 25-17, 22-25, 27-25, 25-20 to advance straight to the semifinals as group winners while in Pool A defending champions Dominican Republic closed the pool phase undefeated after beating Cuba 25-20, 25-19, 25-19 to earn the automatic semifinal spot from the group while Colombia overcame Venezuela 25-22, 26-24, 25-23.

Cycling

In men’s kierin round one action yesterday, T&T cyclist Kwesi Browne came second in heat three to advance to the next round. Another T&T rider Jude Codrington was eliminated from contention, after not finishing heat two. He had a second chance to qualify for the next round, but did not start the round one repechage.

On Monday, Browne, Codrington and Quincy Alexander finished fifth overall in the men’s team sprint.

Today at the Leyes de Reforma Aquatic Centre, Wednesday, 31-year-old Bovell III who recently ended another successful FINA/Mastbank World Cup season and is the two-time defending champions in the men’s 50m freestyle having won the last two events in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico (2010) and 2006 in Cartagena, Colombia will get gold medal campaign off and running when he lines up in heat two of the men’s 50m backstroke while compatriot David Mc Leod goes in heat one, and Joshua Mc Leod, heat one of the men’s 100m butterfly. Bovell is also expected to spearhead the men’s 4 x 100m freestyle quartet  in their final tonight.

In Archery, the trio of George Viree, Hasmath Alo and Amrit Siew both competed in the men’s individual compound as well as the team competition while the national women’s hockey team tackle Dominican Republic at the High Performance Centre, the Women’s Soca Warriors face Mexico in a rematch of their Concacaf Women’s World Cup third place match at Hugo Sanchez Sports Complex.

Basketball

T&T’s senior women’s basketball team will be seeking to improve on its seventh placed finish four years ago, when coach Christopher Jackson Charles’ team opens its account at the 2014 Central America and Caribbean Games (CAC), today, against Cuba.

T&T and Cuba will meet from 2.30 pm (TT time) at the Benito Juarez Auditorium, Veracruz, following the Group B opener between Jamaica and 2010 CAC silver medal team, the Dominican Republic. Group A action will follow at the same venue, at 8 pm, when Costa Rica and defending CAC basketball champion Puerto Rico meet. Host team Mexico and El Salvador will meet in the final match of the day.

Following today’s action, T&T will face the Dominican Republic tomorrow from 2.30 pm and Jamaica on Friday, from midday. The qualification rounds and semifinals will be played on Saturday, followed by the place matches and the final on Sunday.

The men’s tournament featuring Panama, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Jamaica, Mexico and Costa Rica will start on Monday and end on November 28.

T&T’s squad for the tournament includes the late additions of Alison Young and Tobago pair Aniecia Baptiste and Dourciel Moore, who have replaced unavailable players, Melissa Guerero, Shakira Clarke and Alicia Liverpool.

The other players include Rhea Codio, Jowan Ortega, Jenelle Richardson, Kielle Connelly, Alicia Cumberbatch, Samantha Wallace, Trecha Jackson-Kennedy, Patrice Edwards, and Afeisha Noel. The support staff include, Arnold Thomas (manager), Shawn Ryan (asst coach) and Claire Mitchell (official).

Initially, T&T failed to qualify for the CAC Games after finishing fourth at the CBC Championships in July. However, the US Virgin Islands, which originally qualified, pulled out of the tournament, opening an invitation for T&T to participate.

Football

With each team on one point, T&T can take a shock lead in Group A of the Central America and Caribbean (CAC) women’s football tournament, today, with a shock win over host team Mexico, when the two teams meet in their second fixture.

The two teams will kick off at 5 pm kickoff at the Estadio Unidad Deportiva Hugo Sanchez, Greater Veracruz, following a Group A double-header opener between Colombia and Haiti.

All four teams are equal in the standings after two 1-1 draws on Monday evening.

In its opener against Haiti, T&T came from a goal down in the first half to seal a draw thanks to a 51st minute goal from Patrice Campbell.

The second fixture on the night saw Mexico steal a point after canceling a first half Colombian goal with an equalizer in the fifth minute of time added on in the second half.

Mexico’s goal was scored by Veronica Corral, the same player who scored two goals in extra time against T&T last month at the Concacaf Women’s Championships, to boot the “Women’s Soca Warriors” into the third-place playoff.

Olympic medallist Lalonde Gordon now has a trust in his name.

While some athletes get a statue in honour of their accomplishments and others have their name assigned to a plane or stadia, the London 2012 Olympic achiever is to be lauded by the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) with the activation of the Lalonde Gordon Fund.

Huey Cadette, secretary for Sport, Education and Youth Affairs confirmed this yesterday.

He explained that while the fund was created two years ago, it was not yet launched and neither had it being operationalised. A board to oversee the fund had been appointed.

Cadette expressed the hope that the fund would become operational in fiscal 2015 with an initial contribution of $1 million from the THA.

Gordon successfully medalled at the London 2012 Olympics in his pet events—the 400m and the 4x400 relay—where he secured bronze medals for T&T.

Through the creation of this fund, the THA hoped to assist athletes and administrators alike in their personal development goals.

The establishment of the fund, however, was being done in isolation, said the secretary.

The fund, he said, would form part of the Assembly’s Tobago Sport Policy, which is still being drafted, and aimed to set a clear mandate in relation to structures and procedures through which elite athletes accessed funding.

“Recognising Lalonde Gordon’s effort and his success at the London 2012 Olympics, the THA would have established a fund where money would be allocated both by the THA and corporate T&T. This fund, of course would be managed by representatives of civil society and of course the Assembly. The role of this fund would be to seek applications from persons whether administrators, athletes, organisations who requires support for programmes related to sport, whether it is training or administrative courses,” said Cadette.

He added: “That is essentially what the fund is created for and we look forward to allowing our athletes to thrive because of the input coming from both the Assembly and corporate T&T. We want to ensure that whether you are playing tennis, table tennis, golf, basketball or football that we can find ways to provide support for our athletes. So yes, there will be some distinct differences in our policy and the national one (by the Ministry of Sport). But overall, our policy will seek to compliment what happens at the national level.”

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T&T’s senior men’s football team narrowly missed its chance to claim a ninth CFU Caribbean Cup crown, losing to Jamaica 4-3 in a penalty shoot-out.

Shot-stopper Jan Michael Williams, after an overall commanding performance, made one save for T&T in the shoot-out in Montego Bay, Jamaica. The scrappy affair saw T&T fail to test the Jamaican goalkeeper for 120-plus minutes on Tuesday night.

Their victory guarantees the Reggae Boyz a berth in the 2016 Copa America Centenario, in addition to the 2015 Concacaf Gold Cup place they earned by making the Caribbean Cup final four.

In June 2015, Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobago will be joined by Cuba and Haiti in the Gold Cup in the US. Fifth-placed French Guiana will face Honduras for the remaining spot up for grabs.

The Gold Cup will also give the Soca Warriors' head coach Stephen Hart another chance at qualification for the special 100th anniversary edition of the Copa América South American championships, a unique tournament which will see six Concacaf teams taking part alongside their South American counterparts.

T&T line up: Jan-Michael Williams, Joevin Jones, Daneil Cyrus, Aubrey David, Justin Hoyte, Andre Boucaud (Kevan George 105th), Khaleem Hyland, Hughtun Hector (Ataulla Guerra 82nd), Lester Peltier (Cordell Cato 67th), Kevin Molino, Kenwyne Jones.

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Former national women’s rugby team stand-out Kwanieze John has represented the Trinidad & Tobago Rugby Football Union (TTRFU) at the IRB International Growing the Game Conference, which took place over the weekend, and will also represent the TTRFU at the ongoing World Rugby Conference and Exhibition, which closes today in London, England.

John, a leading advocate for the development of women’s rugby in T&T is credited with the introduction of the School Girls’ League and serves as a Youth Development Officer of the TTRFU.

The Conference included the participation of more than 100 countries and focused on the positive experiences and challenges encountered by coaches and administrators in spreading the game and the path to be followed for future programmes.

High-ranking officials of the IRB including David Carrigy, IRB Head of Development and International Relations also participated in dicussions.

Prior to John’s experience in London, she took part in the Exchange and Corporation Program 2014 Brazilian School Youth Games from November 6-11, in Joao Pessoa, Paraiba, Brazil, under the auspices of the Olympic Solidarity of the International Olympic Committee and the Olympic Committee of Brazil.

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