MINISTER OF Sport and Youth Affairs Shamfa Cudjoe says, “Trinidadians need to understand the beauty of Trinidad and we need to work on that as a people and when we reach that level then we can look at Sport Tourism.”

She was addressing the audience yesterday when the TT Olympic Committee (TTOC) hosted its second annual forum on Advancing Women in Leadership at the National Racquet Centre, Tacarigua.

She spoke to an audience of 70, including representatives from Suriname, Barbados and St Kitts/Nevis.

“We need to get more partnership from the private sector and the coming together of stakeholders. Also, there is a need for better management amongst the non-governing bodies (NGBs). We provide assistance to over 50 sporting bodies and everyone wants their share, and that in itself is a challenge.”

She said the country must strike a balance between usage of its facilities and rental income.

“Millions of dollars are spent on over 300 sporting facilities throughout TT. It costs us over $1 million per month to maintain some of these facilities ,and then you have athletes and NGBs wanting to use them and do not want to pay the minimum fees to use the facilities. Then everyone wants sporting facilities and there are so many of them underutilised.”

President of TTOC Brian Lewis was in fiery mood when he said, “The reality is, the majority of the national associations are male-dominated, so whether you like it or not, we have to work together. It is not only about men, but women that get the opportunity to be on international federations have to stop joining the boys 'club and remain at the head table. Stand up and speak out!”

TT Pro League CEO Julia Baptiste, Yolande Agard- Simmons and Kwanieze John were panellists on the topic Challenges and Obstacles. Nicole Duke-Westfield and Lorraine Waldropt-Fergusson spoke on Leveraging Media to Advocate for Women`s Sport.

Other speakers included head of sport for development and peace at the Commonwealth Secretariat Oliver Dudfield, Catherine Forde, Diane Henderson, Lucretia Burns, Dzifa Job and Ytannia Wiggins of Barbados.