The introduction of development programmes that will see the sport of rugby being broadcasted on television, is one of many initiatives being put forward by presidential candidate Maria Thomas, ahead of the T&T Rugby Football Union's (TTRFU) annual general meeting (AGM) and election of officers on May 10.
Thomas, secretary of the TTRFU who was given the nod to challenge Collin Peters for the position of president of the union at the virtual event, has been quietly charting a pathway to first-world-status rugby, identifying the areas most vulnerable to achieving this goal, in spite of the challenges being posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The former T&T player who just graduated with a Masters Degree in Sports Administration told Guardian Media Sports she is seeking to bridge the gap that has been widening since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, and to date, she has identified two networks interested in doing the broadcast.
"Two networks have already expressed interest in broadcasting local rugby with local commentary. Until we are able to play and record new games live, I’ve been collecting footage from past games that many haven’t had the opportunity to watch. Televising rugby will expand our reach throughout T&T and the region. When we do return to play, more people will be familiar with and excited about the return of the sport," Thomas said.
Thomas' candidacy came via a nomination from champion local club Caribs RFC and seconded by Northerns. She has been quickly building momentum across the rugby fraternity as, if not the president, a valuable asset in the growth and development of the sport.
Despite the challenging times, Thomas said: "There are many proven strategies for administration, education, and participation that we can implement while adhering to the restrictions that are in place for our safety.
"We are fortunate to have a strong foundation and a tenacious community. The number of candidates who have stepped forward to volunteer their time and expertise to the executive committee is indicative of the quality and depth of members dedicated to working together to achieve our goals for Rugby in T&T.
"I have been working closely with stakeholders to develop innovative programmes that are specifically focused on the needs of our community in T&T. Through discussions with clubs, athletes, coaches, referees, and our own governing bodies, I am able to apply the extensive knowledge I have gained in my studies to the betterment of the TTRFU."
She believes that by supporting the focus of qualified individuals on specific long-standing goals, as well as utilising the abundance of expertise within the community, opportunities can be created and a pathway to success charted.
"Our greatest strength is our membership. It is a pleasure to represent and advocate for our community because I have every confidence in our ability to deliver. The opportunity to earn the same confidence in leadership is a great responsibility and honour," Thomas added.
While Thomas will contest the top position, another candidate Don Sucre who is contesting in an independent capacity will take on Nicholas Martinez for the post of vice president while the other positions to be contested are secretary and assistant secretary/treasurer.