MEMBERS of national sporting organisations and other stakeholder yesterday were taught the importance of entrepreneurship and self sustainability as the Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee (TTOC) held its 2nd Future of Sport Conference at the Normandie Hotel in St Ann’s.

Among the topics discussed during the conference were entrepreneurship and the entrepreneur mindset, using creativity to design and construct the business idea, protecting the business idea and funding a business venture. 

The purpose of the conference was to educate local stakeholders about the importance of sport as a powerful economic tool and how to maximise its potential here. 

Feature speaker Dr Terrance Farrell stressed to an attentive audience the magnitude of the global sporting industry not only in terms of fans but its monetary value. 

“Sports are an essential part of our lives, whether as spectators or participants. Competition resonates with the human spirit whether it is the drama of a close game of cricket, a last minute goal in soccer, the thrill of a Formula One race, the tactics of a marathon or a game of chess, or the sheer brutality of an MMA contest,” he said. 

The former Central Bank Deputy Governor continued: “Sport is also business. Indeed, sport is a very big business. Estimates of the size of the global sports industry vary widely depending on what is counted -- gate receipts, media rights, merchandising, sponsorships, infrastructure, software, etc. FIFA is one of the biggest businesses in the world. So is the National Football League and the NBA in the United States, the English Premier League, Formula One racing, and professional tennis. Participants in those sports are able to earn substantial salaries in careers which may span 10-15 years but which, assuming no injuries, can set them up for life.” He pointed out that it’s not just the athletes who make a living off sport but all stakeholders - club owners, managers, doctors, coaches, lawyers, advertising agencies etc. 

Discussing the importance of local sporting bodies being self sufficient, president of the TTO C Brian Lewis said, “There is the belief that Government has a key role to play in terms of the funding of sport. 

I am saying that the reality is that sport has to strive to become self sufficient and to do it we must be entrepreneurial. 

The core business of the new sport organisation is about service and it is about being market oriented.” Chairman of the Sport Company of Trinidad and Tobago Michael Phillips encouraged those in attendance to start “small” when trying to organise sporting events. 

Phillip also encouraged those in attendance to provide reports on their events to become more accountable. 

Also speaking about accountability, Je Anne Borneo, group risk manager at Sagicor Life said, “Most of the time sponsors want to see what value you are bringing to their brand. We need to account to the people that gave us, so that they will have some loyalty in us and some confidence in what we are doing so it won’t be a one off thing.” Borneo explained that after an event, sports organisers must show sponsors their return on investment, profitability, and the attendance at the events to encourage investors. 

Carina Cockburn, who is an economic development professional from Jamaica, said the Caribbean needs to capitalise on the popularity of athletes such as the selling of merchandise.