TT$5 million was distributed to national athletes yesterday at a function hosted by the Minister of Sport and Youth Affairs, Shamfa Cudjoe at the National Racquet Centre in Tacarigua where the minister used the opportunity to officially launch the National Policy on Sport 2017 – 2027.
It was done in the presence of a number of sporting dignitaries including T&T’s first Olympic gold medallist Hasely Crawford, world batting champion Brian Lara and talented footballer Russell Latapy, who were each presented a copy of the 64-page policy.
“Sports have the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire, the power to unite people in a way that little else does”. said Minister Cudjoe, quoting the former famous South African president Nelson Mandela.
“I am surrounded by heroes,” said Cudjoe, who also had the attention of Minister of Education Anthony Garcia, Minister of Social Development and Family Services Cherrie-Ann Crichlow-Cockburn and Lyndell Hoyte-Sanchez, Technical Director of Sport at the Tobago House of Assembly (THA). “It is my privilege and pleasure to be here to launch the National Policy on Sports 2017-2027 as we recognise sporting excellence with our national athletes who would have medalled at the regional and international Games,
“The 2002 policy focused on the development of sport under two main areas, total participation in sport and high-performance sport. Though at the time the 2oo2 policy was considered to be holistic in its approach to sports development, it was never fully implemented.
“The national policy on sports 2017-2027 would have capitalised on any deficiencies identified with the previous policy and rectified. The new policy adopts a comprehensive and collaborative framework for action.”
Cudjoe promised that her ministry will ensure that all individuals and institutions responsible for servicing the needs of the sport are equipped with the necessary skill and competencies to adequately do same. Assuring that the sports ministry will work with the relevant stakeholders towards the development and implementation of marketing and business development plans for national governing bodies.
She said: “We will establish the sporting industry as a viable candidate for economic diversification by capitalising and maximising revenue generating potential and capabilities. And establish T&T as a regional development centre for sport in the English-speaking Caribbean Region and capitalise on existing sports infrastructure and market them to the wider Caribbean.
Cudjoe also indicated that her ministry wants to install structured physical education programmes in primary and secondary schools which received a rousing round of applause from the audience which also included Commonwealth champion Jereem Richards, Sprinter Kyle Greaux, hurdler Ruebin Walters, boxer Nigel Paul, sprinter Reyare Thomas who collected on behalf of the silver-winning women’s relay team (Semoy Hackett, Kalifa St Fort, Zakiya Denoon), members of both the men’s hockey team and the women’s volleyball team, both bronze medallists at the CAC Games in Barranquilla, Colombia and Parathletes Akeem Stewart and Nyoshia Cain.
Denise Arneaud, deputy permanent secretary in the Ministry of Sport, gave the opening remarks while permanent secretary Nicolette Duke presented an overview on the policy.
Later on, T&T Olympic Committee (TTOC) president Brian Lewis and chairman of the Sports Company of T&T, Douglas Comacho, expressed their pleasure in being part of the process and Patrice Charles, Director Physical Education and Sport in the Sports Ministry closed with a vote of thanks.
Cudjoe advised that Cabinet approved the reward of national teams which create history by qualifying for their respective World Cups for the first time, like the women’s senior volleyball team, who will make their debut at the World Women’s Volleyball Championships in Japan later this year.
So appreciative of the support, the Renele Forde-led team presented Cudjoe with an autographed volleyball and token of appreciation to the Sports Minister.
Entertainment included pannist Derron Ellies and singer Nehilet Blackman, who sang “Sweet Music” off her Legacy album.