BRIAN LEWIS, president of the Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee (TTOC), has issued a call for the stipulations for Elite Athlete Assistance Programme (EAAP) to be adhered to so no other local athlete will go through what national 110-metres hurdles record holder Mikel Thomas has had to endure.

Thomas, based in the United States, has not received funding since May 2013 and was recently evicted from his apartment due to non-payment of rent. The 26-year-old has had to sell his car and is currently using a bicycle to commute in an effort to cut his costs.

On June 7 this year, Newsday exclusively highlighted Thomas’ financial plight. The hurdler was forced to use a fund-raising website to help him purchase a plane ticket back to Trinidad to compete at the National Track and Field Championships.

The University of Kentucky graduate was ranked as high as fourth in the world in 2012 and won gold at the Gugle Games in July this year in Austria.

Thomas’ financial situation seems to have definitely had a negative effect on his form on the track though as he failed to make it past the preliminary round at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow last month. After registering the 11th fastest time in the world for 2013 (13.19 seconds), this season he has recorded a mere 13.42 seconds, the 30th fastest. Speaking with Newsday on Monday, Lewis lamented Thomas’ plight but still believes the EAAP in its current existence can still work.

“There is a structure in place that deals with the Elite Athletes Assistance Programme. It is a public document. The Cabinet guidelines on that indicate a criteria. In the main, that has worked for a number of athletes who have met the criteria however there are some athletes who have had some difficulties. Once that system is working how it is supposed to work, athletes who met the criteria ought not to have difficulties,” he said.

Lewis noted though a critical aspect of the process is the National Sporting Organisations (NSOs) involvement and an endorsement by the TTOC before the application goes to Ministry of Sport for determination of the disbursements of funds.

“If it has not come to the NSO or TTOC then we cannot monitor it. That is important. (When) athletes go directly to the Ministry which is not in accord with the Cabinet approved guideline then it would be difficult for the NSO or TTOC to monitor,” he explained. Asked whether the embarrassing situation Thomas has had to go through could dissuade other athletes from choosing to represent this country in the future, Lewis remained optimistic that it would not.

“I don’t think it would. Once there is an understanding of what is the proper process then the Elite Assistance Programme is meant to work and deliver. Once that process is followed and the guidelines are followed I don’t see why there should be issues,” he added. “The environment that we have here in TT has proven (successful) for the athletes that have had to make that choice in the past — whether it be an Ato Boldon, a Njisane Phillip or a Mikel Thomas,” he continued.

In conclusion, Lewis stated that what is important is that the Elite Athletes guidelines and the contributions of the NSOs and TTOC must not be circumvented and all parties must stick to their portfolios. “Overall, I am very confident that we have the platform and foundation to build upon. There are areas that require improvement but we are on course. It doesn’t mean all is well but once there is cooperation of the stakeholders we have a good thing going. I think that some of the problems that occur is when there is a misunderstanding of the roles and responsibilities. I think the Sports Company and Sport Ministry are facilitators and that the NSOs should be allowed to be responsible for administrating managing and governing their respective sports,” he declared.

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A review of the literature such as Coalter 1996, Coakley 2002, Nichols 2007, and Robbins 1996 et al points to several important factors that must be present for social sports programmes to have a positive impact on anti-social behaviour as well as aiding community development. These factors provide a framework to assess and evaluate the LifeSport Programme and Hoop of Life.

There is no doubting that the biggest losers of the cancellation of the well-intended LifeSport Programme have been taxpayers and the targeted group of young men. The Central Audit Committee report into the operation Ministry of Sport’s LifeSport Programme has stressed several financial and managerial discrepancies which must be addressed by the relevant authorities in a timely manner. The report findings point to grave wastage of scare financial resources. The young men who were in the programme must feel as though the carpet has been pulled from under their feet. It is difficult not to surmise that this is yet another example of where economically and socially disadvantaged persons are made to pay a heavy price for wanton mismanagement by those given the responsibility to deliver important social services to the public.

Conceptualising and theorising how social sporting programmes are to operate is critical not only to meeting their desired outcomes but equally important for identifying the correct tools to evaluate their effectiveness. Proper planning minimises the possibilities of wastage of financial resources whether private or public. It is very mindboggling that both the LifeSport Programme and the Hoop of Life were aimed to addressing the concerns of youth at risk yet still operated out of different ministries! Additionally, were there other ways in which these programmes could have be organized so as to utilise existing sporting structures such as the national basketball structure in the case of the Hoop of Life to yield greater success both in terms of the desired effects as well as the management of funds?

Research has shown that when emphasis is placed on developing skills and building social interaction as opposed to focusing on competition and aggression, there is a greater probability that sports can be effective in reducing youth crime and violence. Therefore, one has to ask the question as to whether or not the Hoop of Life basketball competition is being fully effective as it is a case of the winner gets the most. The winner gets $1.5millions dollars, 2nd place $500,000 and 3rd place $250, 000 and 4th $100.000. What happens to the other 56 teams? As a result of this the gaps between the communities would only widen and thereby defeat the purpose of the objectives of the programme.

A critical factor highlighted for the success of many social programmes have been where coaches, mentors, and role models have been trained in conflict resolution, dealing with sensitive issues relating to youth and ensuring that the goals of the programme are always pursued. It will be interesting to find out whether or not the coaches, mentors etc that have been used in the various social sporting programmes were trained as to how to effectively interact with the targeted audience. It is important to note that former national players and or just carrying the title of coach does not necessarily indicate that these persons can deal with the social and psychological issues that may be related to youth. Additionally, not all successful sports personnel may be good role models for those persons who are striving to correct deviant behaviour.

Social sporting programmes have shown to be effective when parents, schools and community members are part of either the decision making process and or the implementation process. This will however, depend on the size of the programme. Getting established sporting organisations for instance sporting clubs in communities to be part of the programme may provide a good starting point for the programme being effective. Additionally, it may serve to minimise some of the negative stigma that is attached to state programmes if they stand alone.

It is also very important to acknowledge that “one size fits all” approaches may not necessarily work. What may be good for one community may not necessarily work in another. If communities are to be hooked into the various programmes they have to be part of the decision making process. The youth have to have a say or else they will feel marginalised and see the programme as yet another way for adults to tell what is good for them!

As we move into the future, it is important that politicians, technocrats and whoever else end up making public decisions take into consideration the following issues. Firstly, social sporting programmes must be developed on evidence and possible solutions are practical. Secondly, programmes should be sustainable.

This is problematic when the state is the main benefactor, for when the government changes there is no guarantee the programme will continue and thirdly, rigorous evaluations must be undertaken to identify that factors that influence crime reduction, pro-social behaviour and change in young people.

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GLASGOW, Scotland ----- Commonwealth sports ministers and senior officials have called for “the power of sport” to be recognised as an important driver for social and economic development. They made the call at the Commonwealth Sports Ministers Meeting in Glasgow this week.

Commonwealth governments also reiterated their collective commitment to combatting match-fixing and other issues affecting integrity in sport, and ensuring good governance and safeguards for children and other vulnerable participants.

Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma, who opened the meeting, said: “We are well aware of the important and transformational part sport plays in the lives of many young people. With over 60 percent of the population of the Commonwealth being under 30 years of age, sport has a unique potential to reach, engage and empower these young people.”

Shona Robison Member of the Scottish Parliament and Cabinet Secretary for the Commonwealth Games and Sport in the Scottish Government, chaired the meeting on behalf of the United Kingdom. The meeting brought together delegations from 45 countries.

Shona Robison said: “We recognise the valuable role of sport in development and peace, as an approach to addressing a range of challenges and delivering significant benefits,” said the national representatives in their Meeting communiqué.

“This work occurs in a wide diversity of cultural and demographic contexts, and contributes to various development goals such health, education, youth empowerment, gender equity, equality and inclusion, social cohesion, economic growth, and community and peace building.”

The call comes as governments globally look to agree a successor framework to the Millennium Development Goals, which expire at the end of 2015. The ministers noted in their statement how sport can support a range of development outcomes and is therefore important to the “successful delivery of the post-2015 development agenda”.

Other attendees at the sports ministers meeting were representatives of overseas territories of member states, as well as observers from organisations including the International Olympic Committee, World Anti-Doping Agency, UNICEF, UNESCO and members of the Commonwealth Advisory Body on Sport.

During their discussions, ministers commended the governments of Barbados, Rwanda and Sri Lanka for piloting a set of guidelines developed by the Commonwealth Secretariat, which focus on advancing development through sport. The national representatives also applauded the formation of a Commonwealth Youth Sport for Development and Peace working group and endorsed its call to give young people a voice in decision making in government sport processes and sporting organisations.

The Commonwealth Advisory Body on Sport, a 14-member group of sports policy experts, meeting which met the previous week, had earlier urged member countries to recognise and invest in sport as a key vehicle for improving the lives of citizens.

In their communiqué, ministers reaffirmed their request for the sports advisory body to work towards a framework Commonwealth consensus on integrity issues in sport, such as good governance, safeguarding of participants and combatting match-fixing.

The meeting took place as Glasgow city began welcoming visitors for the 20th Commonwealth Games. In this major sporting event, approximately 6,500 athletes from 71 countries and territories will be competing in 17 sports over 11 days from 23 July to 3 August.

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France-based Darlene Ramdin led three players in double-figures as T&T’s “Calypso Spikers” crushed Jamaica in three sets (25-12, 25-13, 25-12) in the Women’s Division final of the 15th Senior Caribbean Zonal Volleyball Association (Cazova) Championship at the Jean Pierre Complex, Mucurapo, on Sunday.

The win for T&T led by first year head coach Nicholson Drakes was a historic one in many ways. It was achieved on home soil and led by captain Kelly-Anne Billingy after finishing third in 1993 and second in 2002 in tournaments won by Barbados.

In addition, the victory which came in 72 minutes was a record fifth straight (2006, 2008, 2010, 2012 and 2014) to go past Barbados which won in 1998, 2000, 2002 and 2004 as the teams with the most wins on the trot, while both teams now have the same amount of titles overall as well, six.

Barbados was also crowned champions in 1993 and 1994 while T&T got its first in 1996.

Bahamas with its victories in 1992 and 1995, and the now defunct Netherlands Antilles, which won the inaugural title in 1991 are the only other teams to have won.

For T&T, Ramdin who copped one of the “Best Spiker” awards had nine kills, three blocks and three kills in her 15 points output and she was well supported by fellow France-based starlet and ‘Best Spiker” awardee Channon Thompson with 12, inclusive of ten kills while Marisha Herbert added ten.

Thompson also collected the “Best Server” and “Most Valuable Player” of the tournament

The 31st world ranked “Calypso Spikers” dominated the Jamaica “Riddim Girlz” to lead 35-14 on spikes, 10-2 on blocks and 6-1 on service aces while committing only 20 errors to their opponent’s 24.

Chicago-born Jamaican captain, Simone Asque who has played professionally in Cyprus and Denmark had six points and Karenza Beckford, four in the loss.

The second placed finish was the third for Jamaica, having done so in a 1996 loss to T&T, and in 2004 to Barbados.

An elated Billingy speaking after yet another triumph for her team which is now unbeaten at the Cazova level since losing in the 2004 semifinals, said her team was happy to accomplish its goal of a record fifth straight title to equal Barbados with six titles overall.

“During the tournament I don’t think we played our best volleyball and tonight the girls really stepped it up a bit by saving their best for last.

Billingy also praised for the crowd support saying, “We are thankful for the extra energy they brought.

Drakes after capturing his maiden crown as coach said he was happy to see the improvement of the team from the first match to the final.

“As the tournament went along we had to make adjustments and tonight our serving, passing and blocking was at a level that we have come to expect, which made it difficult for Jamaica.”

Honour roll:

Best Spiker: Channon Thompson (T&T)

Best Spiker: Darlene Ramdin (T&T)

Best Opposite: Sandrina Hunsel (Suriname)

Best Receiver: Rheeza Grant (T&T)

Best Digger: Farahnaz Levens (Suriname)

Best Blocker: Shani Leacock (Barbados)

Best Blocker: Thonya Joseph (Barbados)

Best Setter: Cheryl Brunnings (Suriname)

Best Libero: Farahnaz Levens (Suriname)

Best Server: Channon Thompson (T&T)

Best Scorer: Sandrina Hunsel (Suriname)

Most Valuable Player: Channon Thompson (T&T)

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Outside-hitter Simon Blake and opposite Ryan Stewart showed the future of T&T was in safe hands as they tallied 18 points each in a 22-25, 25-23, 25-18, 25-19 defeat of Barbados in the men’s final of the 15th Caribbean Zonal Volleyball Association (Cazova) Championship at the Jean Pierre Complex, Mucurapo on Sunday night.

The win secured a second title in four years for the Gideon Dickson-coached T&T after it lifted the crown for the first time four years ago in Suriname by beating Barbados as well before going under to Bahamas in the 2012 final in St Croix, US Virgin Islands.

Having beaten T&T in four sets in their round-robin Pool B decider earlier in the week, the Barbadians went into the contest as slight favourites, and took the first set.

However, Blake, the “Best Spiker”, “Best Scorer” and eventual tournament “Most Valuable Player” award recipient and Stewart, who had 17 and 12 kills respectively rallied the host to a come-from-behind win in two hours and seven minutes.

Portugal-based middle-blocker Marc-Anthony Honore and USA-based Mikheil Hoyte chipped in with 13 and 12 points respectively while captain, Nolan Tash who was playing in his final Cazova Championship after 20 years in the sport added six.

The locals also outscored their rivals on all key aspects of the match, 47-43 on kills, 18-4 on blocks and 4-1 on aces.

In a very closely fought contest, T&T was also able to take full advantage of an injury to Barbadian captain and setter Alain London, who twisted his left ankle near to his team’s bench with the score 20-15 in the third set.

The lone disappointment for the home team on the night was its 37 errors committed to Barbados’ 28, however it still held firm to avenged the round-robin loss and claim the title, its first on home soil after placing fourth in 1993 and 2002 when its opponent were crowned champions.

The title triumph had a similar feel to 2010 as back then T&T was beaten by Barbados in the preliminary round, before ousting Bahamas in the semifinals and then exacting revenge on the Bajans in the title match.

Shawn Simpson had a team-high 12 points all on kills, Jabari Goodridge 11, and Fabian Cox, nine for the Barbadians who were after their first title since beating T&T in the 2006 decider for its last of its record ten-titles.

Barbados, the record 12-time finalists was also crowned champions from 1992-1996 as well as 1998, 2000, 2002 and 2004 while they were also runners-up in 2008 to Martinique before ending third in 2012, its lowest finish ever.

Commenting on the win, veteran Tash said it was a very emotional victory for many reasons.

“Firstly, coming into the tournament we were under a lot of pressure to do well and I don’t think we were looked at as favourites.”

“However, we knew the strength of our team and wanted to take the title on home soil for the first time because with this victory it opens up doors for our team to compete at the higher Norceca level.

“The match was also dedicated to me as this will surely be my last Cazova event and what a way to go out, as champions. I could not have asked for anything better, so thanks to my team-mates and the crowd for their tremendous support.”

Barbadian coach Niles Ludger credited T&T for playing a good match and noted that the level of support by the crowd played a key role on keeping them on a high.

T&T coach Gideon Dickson said his team executed its game plan accordingly to get the win.

“We knew going into the match it would not be easy, but the guys stuck to their task and got the required result.”

Honour roll:

Best Spiker: Kevin Sporkslede (Suriname)

Best Spiker: Simon Blake (T&T)

Best Opposite: Shawn Simpson (Barbados)

Best Receiver: Renaldo Mota (Curacao)

Best Digger: Ricardo Chong (Jamaica)

Best Blocker: Byron Ferguson (Bahamas)

Best Blocker: Rachid Isenia (Curacao)

Best Setter: Giandro Tokaay (Curacao)

Best Libero: Ryan Mahadeo (T&T)

Best Server: Ryck Mc Kenzie-Webb (Jamaica)

Best Scorer: Simon Blake (T&T)

Most Valuable Player: Simon Blake (T&T)

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National female shot putter Cleopatra Borel continued her medal winning performances, striking gold at the World Challenge Meet in Brazil on Sunday.

Borel, who has been consistent this year, threw the shot put 18.29 metres to snatch the glory despite arriving at the hotel only 10 hours before the start of the meet.

Last month she secured silver at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland with a 18.52m throw.

Meanwhile last Friday, Deandra Daniel was fourth in the women’s high jump, clearing 1.73m at the North American, Central American and Caribbean (NACAC) Under-23 Championships held in Kamloops, Canada. Alyxandria Treasure of Canada was first with 1.85m followed by American Shanay Briscoe (1.76) and Rebecca Haworth (1.76) of Canada. Also, Moriba Morian failed to qualify for the finals of the men 100m, finishing third in his heat in 10.57 seconds. Steve Waithe and Akeem Stewart captured silver and bronze respectively, though, Waithe was second in the triple jump with a distance of 15.94m behind Eric Sloan (16.20) of United States, Lathone Collie Minns of Bahamas was third with 15.86m.

Stewart settled for third place in the shot put with a 17.76m throw while Americans Willy Irwin (19.44) and Darrell Hill (18.85) were first and second respectively.

Mark London failed to secure a medal in the men’s 800 event, finishing seventh in the final after crossing the line in one minute 52.87 seconds. Mexican Bryan Martinez Sanchez won with a time of one minute 47.90 followed by Thomas Riva (1:48.19) of Canada and American Christopher Low (1:48.19) who were second and third respectively.

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