...host delighted with visit

Sport and Youth Affairs Minister Darryl Smith provided early evidence on how he intends to approach his job when he made an impromptu visit to the studios of I95 on Saturday evening and took part in the weekly sports show hosted by the popular Andre Baptiste.

The programme, which started around 6.15 pm and included among the panel Guardian Sports Editor Valentino Singh, well known sports promoter Tony Harford and investigative sports reporter Lasana Liburd, was into its first ten minutes, when to the surprise of the quartet, the minister entered the studio and joined the discussion.

Pointing out that he was an avid follower of the programme, the minister who had just attended the Secondary Schools match between St Mary’s and St Anthony’s Colleges, gave a brief history of his involvement in sport as a national youth footballer, and pointed out that anyone who knew him would testify to his passion for sport.

The quartet was impressed at the ease with which Smith responded to their questions, promising that he intends to be in the ministry for the full five years.

“I don’t want my legacy to be about buildings. I want it to be about our athletes, not only those who are national athletes but all the young people who would want to use sport as a social tool to improve their lives.”

Reminded that sport and culture were the two major areas of the nation’s life that united the people, but which appeared to be treated as ‘lightweights’ by government, Smith said he has no doubt that under the current leadership of the new Prime Minister, Dr Keith Rowley, this would change.

“I believe that Dr Rowley, more than any other Prime Minister understands the value of sport. After all, he is still involved in sport almost on a daily basis through his love for golf. I am sure he knows what sport can do for a nation, and I have little doubt he will make sure we get as fair treatment as possible.”

Smith revealed that he was on the job minutes after being sworn into office. This included meeting with staff at both the Ministry of Sport and the Sports Company of T&T. “I toured all the floors, met everyone who was present and I think there is a sense of relief among the workers.”

Told by the panel that there appeared to be lots of tension and demotivated people at the Ministry, Smith promised to bring the work environment up to be acceptable standards, even if it meant relocating the ministry.

He promised to listen to the voice of stakeholders before making decisions, and to ensure that the legacy of the country’s sporting personalities received the respect it deserved through the national sports archives.

Told by Baptiste that most ministers appeared on his programme when they first come into office and then refused to return, Smith promised that he would be the exception.

“There is a lot to be done, I have no doubt, and at the end of my five years, I intend to be available to return for you all to judge me.”

The panellists later agreed that the minister’s decision to make his way to the studio was a refreshing move that augurs well for the future.

Baptiste noted it was the first time that a minister had exercised such an initiative, and he was surprised, pleased and looking forward to the Minister returning in the future.