Former world champions, the T&T “Calypso Netballers” will come up against the top two teams in the world, host Australia and New Zealand in Pool A round-robin play at next year’s 14th Netball World Cup in Sydney Australia, from August 7-16.

This will be the second time that the World Championships are being held in Sydney, and the third time in Australia. Sydney last hosted the event in 1991, when Australia won a closely contested final against New Zealand.

All matches will be played at the 21,000 seat Allphones Arena (formerly known as the Sydney SuperDome and Acer Arena), Sydney Olympic Park.

T&T who won the American Federation of Netball Association (AFNA) world title back in 1979 as joint winners with the Aussies and New Zealand will also go head-to-head with Caribbean rivals Barbados, who they have beaten in their last three meetings.

Pool B of the 2015 Championship features world third and fourth ranked teams, England and Jamaica as well as Scotland and Samoa while Malawi, South Africa, Singapore and Sri Lanka comprise Pool C, and the quartet of Fiji, Wales, Uganda and Zambia make up Pool D.

Australia qualified automatically as host along with the next five highest ranked teams from the 2011 Championship inclusive of New Zealand, England, Jamaica, Malawi and South Africa.

The other 11 teams qualified via their regional qualifying competitions, with T&T topping Barbados in the AFNA qualifiers which were held in Alberta, Canada, in August.

The Australians are the defending champions having won the title for a record tenth three years ago while second-ranked New Zealand have captured the top prize on four ocassions, the last being in 2002 while it has ended in second spot no fewer than seven times, including the last two editions.

Australia is also the reigning Commonwealth Games gold medal winners after beating major rival New Zealand in the final earlier this year, 58-40.

It will be the second straight time the Pepe Gomes coached T&T women will face New Zealand in the group stages, having gone under to the Kiwis, 23-75 in 2007 while beating Wales (51-48) and Fiji (58-40) at the Singapore National Stadium.

The “Calypso Netballers” were then upstaged by Jamaica 42-79 in the quarterfinals and also went under to Malawi, 38-61 in their fifth to eight place semifinal ahead of its 56-38 beating of Northern Ireland for seventh spot in the 16-team tournament.

But despite the tough draw, T&T coach Wesley “Pepe” Gomes said he was quite happy with the opponents his team would face.

“My aim is for us to finish among the top six and if you want to be among the best you have to beat the best teams in the world.

“They have been the top teams in the world for a while now but we have been preparing as hard as we can.”

Currently, Gomes has a core of players in training and with the World Championships set for July he is hoping to get in some international matches and possibly two overseas tours.

“We know things are tough when it comes to financial support, but we are looking at some matches in Europe against Wales, Scotland and Ireland in early May and then some against the Jamaicans just before we head to Australia,” Gomes said.

“Our plans were to play some matches against Barbados but with us being drawn in the same pool and beating them on the last three to four times we have played each other, I don’t think they will agree to it this time around.”

Last night the T&T women continued training with another session at the Jean Pierre Complex, Mucurapo and depending on the availability of the venue will train again tomorrow morning or Monday afternoon from 6 pm to 8 pm to close out before the Christmas.

Gomes added: “The girls have been really committed to training but we are still having some issues in getting the facilities to train as much as we would hope for.

“Since our return from the AFNA Championships in Alberta, Canada, where we won the title, the players had a little break and have been training since. They will get the break for the Christmas and then we resume or programme on January 2, 2015.”

The T&T coach also praised the younger players who have been in training for their efforts.

“There are a few young players training with us and even though they may not make the final team for the major tournaments, training with their senior peers will help them to prepare well for Under-21 tournaments and I hope they take as much knowledge from the senior players as possible.

At the World Championship, the top two teams from each preliminary pool will qualify to the “first eight” second round series while the bottom two teams in each pool will play in the “second eight” competition.

And at the end of the end of the first eight second round two groups, the top two in each qualify to the semifinals, the ther bottom two battle for fifth to eight.

And the teams in the second eight groups will play round robin match, followed by crossover playoffs.

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Preliminary round groups:
Pool A: No 1 Australia, No 2 New Zealand, No 10 Barbados, No 9 T&T
Pool B: No 3 England, No 4 Jamaica, No 12 Scotland, No 14 Samoa
Pool C: No 5 Malawi, No 6 South Africa, No 19 Singapore, No 24 Sri Lanka
Pool D: No 7 Fiji, No 8 Wales, No 13 Uganda, No 18 Zambia

Qualification rounds:
First Eight:
Pool E: A-1, B-2, C-1, D-2
Pool F: A-2, B-1, C-2, D-1

NB: Top two teams from each pool qualify to the semifinals while the bottom two qualify to the fifth to eight playoffs.

Second Eight:
Pool G: A-3, B-4, C-3, D-4
Pool H: A-4, B-3, C-4, D-3

At the end of the second eight matches, the teams will then face off in the playoff matches for positions ninth to 16th.
Winner’s row:
Year    Host    Placing 
1963    England    4th
1967    Australia    5th
1971    Jamaica    4th
1975    New Zealand    4th
1979    T&T    Joint 1st with Aus/NZ
1983    Singapore    3rd
1987    Scotland    Joint 2nd
1991    Australia    DNP
1995    England    6th
1999    New Zealand    8th
2003    Jamaica    10th
2007    New Zealand    11
2011    Singapore    7th


There is no shortage of talented footballers in this country. The problem, however, is that most lack in the departments of physical and mental strength. That may explain the shortage of T&T nationals in the top leagues around the world, according to head coach of the men’s senior team, Stephen Hart.

Hart, speaking with the Guardian said this is something that can be drastically changed when all stakeholders take a modern approach to the game.

In elaborating, Hart admitted: “the majority (of players) are not prepared physically to meet the challenges of international football.”

Most recently, Hart’s team placed runner-up at consecutive Caribbean Football Union (CFU) Caribbean Cups last month, losing in a penalty-shoot out to host nation Jamaica in the final.

There was no shortage of talent in that squad, yet the players seemingly failed to approach the match as a final and barely looked dangerous, even against an average Jamaica side.

There’s a factor expressed time and time again by Hart, which may contribute heavily to this.

Hart says he struggles with the fact that many of his regulars do not play consistently for their clubs outside of the T&T Pro League.

“This is a worrying factor,” he said. “Many do not play with a team, or league where you have to be competitive to the core; fight for selection in every training session (and) concentrate for 90 minutes, compete in every game for survival, or to win the league...These are essential elements of modern players.”

“We need to ask ourselves why more of our players are not playing in any major leagues around the world, compared to the T&T team of 2006, Costa Rica, USA and Honduras of 2014.

“In my opinion, most are not prepared physically or mentally to meet the demands and rigors of a full season.”

So what are the potential solutions?

“Staffing needs to be improved upon. Medical, a physical trainer and potentially an IT person. We need proper training equipment, et cetera...heart monitors and GPS monitors are essential for monitoring consistent physical testing for all national team players (and potential players) and recorded data.

“Many need individualised measured physical programmes. They also have to be convinced that this will vastly improve their personal development.”

Hart said training camps are essential.

“The only way to get things right for a football team is on the field of training and games...This allows both for individual and team evaluation.”

Asked if he believed Fifa international match windows for 2015 would be fully utilised, Hart said: “I have to believe​ this to be true. Fifa dates are now double dates.

“Financially we may not be able to play two games on every outing because travel is extensive and expensive.

“Then we can play one game on the second date. This will allow us to have preparation time together in camp. We also need a couple of camps, with International games, for local based players (preferably in the off season). Almost every major footballing country has this structure.

“Training Camps are essential; the only way to get things right for a football team is on the field of training and games. This allows for both individual and team evaluation,” he said.

Hart, along with other technical staff members, management and men’s senior team players received their respective arrears of salaries, match fees, stipends and bonuses following the CFU Caribbean Cup.

The Government also provided funds in advance for the use of salaries up to the 2015 Concacaf Gold Cup, which takes place in the United States in July.

Hart said this came as relief for him and the players.

“Yes (I am relieved). These are professional staff and players and they have the same needs and demands of any working man...This is how they feed their families. We also have to realise that the opposition are doing the same.”

Should it have been done in the full glare of the media in a ceremonial-like manner at the Office of the Prime Minister?

“​I am happy that an agreement was fulfilled,” Hart responded, adding, “Personally I am a private person...(I am) uncomfortable with publicity (but) the situation was not one that I had any control over.”


World Junior champion Machel Cedenio ended his junior (under 20) campaign as the world’s top 400m junior sprinter for 2014.

Despite racing sparingly due to injury, the lanky Point Fortin resident set world leading times almost every time he stepped on the track. He started his year by racing the first of his world leading times when he clocked 45.95 to retain his Carifta boys Under-20 400m title in Martinique in April.

Cedenio’s next run was even better when he won the Cayman Islands Invitational men’s one lap event on May 7 against his seniors, lowering his world leading time to 45.23 and also breaking the national junior mark of 45.74 set by Renny Quow in 2006.

The six-time Carifta champion came close to a new national mark when he took the CAC Junior crown in 45.28. He went to the 2014 World Juniors Champs in Eugene, Orgeon, USA in July as the overwhelming favourite and duly delivered with a dominant run to capture the gold medal in yet another world-leading and national junior clocking of 45.13. Cedenio’s winning time pushed the Florida-based sprinter up to joint 21st on the all-time junior lists along with triple Olympic gold medalist and five-time World champion Jeremy Wariner of the USA.

His 45.13 clocking is also the 33rd best for the year in the senior rankings. In addition to holding the fastest time on the planet, the Presentation College, San Fernando graduate has four of the six quickest clockings for the year and has dipped under the 46 second barrier on seven occasions over the last twelve months.

Cedenio showed his world-class potential two years earlier when he was fifth at the 2012 World Juniors finals as a 16 year old. That year, he also qualified for this country’s Olympic team as a reserve on the men’s 4x400m team and ended the season as the top Youth quarter-miler for 2012 again dominating the rankings with eight of the top ten times.

Cedenio is the lone T&T athlete ranked in the top ten on the latest IAAF World Junior rankings. However, he anchored the Carifta’s boys Under-20 4x400m team, which included Asa Guevara, Breon Mullings and Nathan Farinha to victory to the fourth best time in the world (3:06.02).

Triple World Junior finalist Jonathan Farinha is the next best placed local at 11th in the men’s 100m standings. Fellow World Junior finalists Reubin Walters (men’s 110m hurdles-99cm) and Shakeil Waithe (men’s javelin) are at 13th in their events.

Farinha sits outside the top ten in the men’s sprint with his personal best (pb) run of 10.25 which he set in winning the national junior title at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, Port-of-Spain, on May 31.

John-Mark Constantine is at 25th with a pb of 10.35 which he established in finishing runner-up to Farinha at the National Junior Champs. Farinha is at 16th in the men’s 200m following another personal run of 20.68 set in taking the National Junior half lap crown. At the World Juniors the QRC student was eighth in the 100m and 200m finals and led the men’s 4x100m team of Constantine, Holland Cabara, Micah Ballantyne and Akanni Hislop to sixth place in the finals.

Walters was 13th in the men’s sprints hurdles finals in a pb of 13.52. The final was a historic one as the winner, Wilhem Belocian of France, took the gold in a new world junior record of 12.99 with Jamaican Tyler Mason in second in 13.06 (also under the previous world junior mark).

Walters is also at 29th in the men’s 400m hurdles with a pb run of 51.46 at the Twightlight Games at the Hasely Crawford on May 02. Waithe, the Carifta and CAC Junior Champion, sits at number 13 on the men’s javelin listing with his pb throw of 72.75 in taking the national open title on June 22.

Among the women, Zakiya Denoon is the best ranked at 15th in the women’s 100m with her 11.41 pb clocking in capturing the national junior title on May 31. Aaliyah Telesford is at 23rd with 11.47 while Carifta girls under 20 champion Kayelle Clarke is 25th in the women’s half lap event with 23.44. Denoon, Telesford, Clarke combined with Maurica Preito to clocked the third fastest time in the world in the women’s 4x100m running 44.23 to take the CAC Junior gold. The quartet missed out on a medal at the World Juniors finished fourth.

Cedenio, Denoon and Waithe are the top junior performers in their events in the Central American and Caribbean (CAC) region. Walters and Nicholas Landeau (1:49.51) are at two in the sprint hurdles and the men’s 800m respectively. Kayelle Clarke is third in the women’s 200m. Jonathan Farinha is at number three in the 100m and five in the 200. Akila McShine (13.80-pb) is fifth in the women’s 100m hurdles.

Aaron Lewis (13.85 sec-pb) and Portious Warren (14.47m-pb) sit at sixth in the men’s sprints hurdles and the women’s shot put respectively. In the men’s shot put Shervorne Worrell (16.22m) and Kenejah Williams (16.06m) are eighth and ninth respectively. While in the discus Williams is at 12th (47.17m) and Worrell 20th (45.81).

In the World Youth (Under 18) rankings, two time Carifta and CAC Junior long jump champion Andwuelle Wright is the top rated T&T competitor at 17th in the boys long jump with a pb of 7.42m set in taking third at the Hampton Games at the Hasely Crawford Stadium on May 17.

Youth Olympic finalist Jeminise Parris is at 18th on the girls 100m hurdles (76.2cm) performance list. Parris clocked 13.62 sec (pb) in the heats of the Youth Olympics in Nanjing China on Aug 20 before finished fifth in the finals three days later in 13.76. Youth Olympic Games boys 200m fourth place finisher Akanni Hislop missed on a place on the rankings. The 16 year old clocked 21.28 sec in the heats of the men’s 200m at this year’s National Championships and when on to capture the B finals beating the field despite being the youngest.


PRESIDENT of the Trinidad and Tobago Cricket Board (TTCB) Azim Bassarath has echoed the call by Communications Minister Vasant Bharath for a ministerial review of the special audit into the Sports Company.

Bassarath, in a speech delivered at an end-of-year function of the Christian Conquerors Sports Club of Rio Claro last weekend, again called for action to be taken against the former board of Sportt which was fired in the light of the Life Sport scandal where millions of dollars were paid for ghost programmes.
Bassarath, who  also serves as a Minister in the Ministry of Finance, recently described the findings of a special audit by the Office of the Auditor General into the operations of Sportt as “alarming.”
Line minister Larry Howai has since ordered a ministerial review of the report’s findings.
According to a Trinidad and Tobago Cricket Board release yesterday, Bassarath said that while hundreds of millions of dollars were mis-spent by Sportt, cricket has been the biggest loser as more than $23 million pledged to the national organisation over the past four years, has been withheld which has seriously affected its youth development programmes.
He called on Minister Howai to extend the investigation into the activities of the fired board of Sportt .
He also called on Government to pay keen attention to the quality of individuals that are recommended for positions as it relates to sports.
Bassarath said despite the tough challenges they face, the board has applied prudent financial strategies and forged valuable partnerships with corporate T&T to ensure that the young people all over get a fair shot at maximising their potential on the cricket field.
Bassarath said that it was telling that the Auditor General’s overall conclusion is that Sportt is not giving sufficient attention to financial planning and risk management in the development and implementation of important projects, which has impacted the economy, efficiency and efficiency and effectiveness of delivery of sporting facilities.
Bassarath also gave his audience an update on his board’s recent meeting with Minister of Sport Dr Rupert Griffith whom he described as honest and straight-forward and who has shown a willingness to address the issues he is faced with in an atmosphere of openness and transparency.
“Our discussions were frank and amicable and we are hopeful we can work with the minister to resolve our problems for the benefit of cricket and the many thousands it offers hope and a future for on and off the field,” said Bassarath.

TTOC president launches Olympic Preparation programme

Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee president Brian Lewis yesterday announced the launch of the Ten Olympic Medals by 2024 Olympic Athlete Preparation Foundation at Olympic House on Abercromby Street yesterday.

As a start, Lewis will participate in the Trinidad and Tobago International Marathon on January 25 and hopes to raise $500,000 from the venture.

Lewis, who suffers with some ailments, plans to walk the 26.2 mile race in seven hours.

“I am an avid walker... but at about three hours, certain things start to happen to me physically that indicate I am sort of at the end of my limit. I know for sure seven hours will require some real effort,” Lewis said.

The former TTOC general secretary said the goal of ten medals by the 2024 Olympics has been criticised in some quarters.

“Many people have had issues with that, have said it is unrealistic or unattainable, and while I respect other people’s view, I share a different opinion. I think we have the potential to do more than we have done in terms of qualifying athletes to the Olympics and winning medals at the Olympic Games,” Lewis said.

Lewis added the launch of this foundation is more than just an elusive objective or big target, but about creating a culture and a system that supports the athletes.

Lewis said the integration and alignment of the sport policies through the national sporting organisations, the Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee, the Ministry of Sport and the Sports Company of Trinidad and Tobago (SPORTT) will lead to more streamlined and more consistent results at regional, international and global games.

“We have seen too much based on good ideas in the absence of a structure. We have seen within recent times what happens when good ideas are not supported by good governance and structure,” he said.

Lewis revealed that a TTOC commissioned survey revealed that over 70 per cent of citizens love hearing the national anthem and seeing the red, white and black flag raised.

It is part of the expectations being put on T&T’s high performance, elite athletes. But Lewis said the expectation of medal-winning athletes must not exceed the athletes’ financial funding and preparation.

“To be competitive and to win medals, high performance athletes in elite sports need to dedicate more time and money into their athletic endeavours,” Lewis said, “How do we give our elite high performance athletes peace of mind, enable or empower career athletes from falling below the poverty and middle wage line (while) training to be an Olympic champion is a full-time commitment,”

Lewis said the pursuit of excellence and qualifying for the Olympic Games demands years of dedication, sacrifice and single-minded focus. He added that financial support or the lack of it across the stages of an athlete’s career development “ have ended or compromised the dreams of many of our talented men and women in sport”.

He said the Foundation is expected to evolve into an entity where sums of money are raised and is endowed so that there is an end for athletes that meet a defined criteria based on their needs.

Lewis said the Foundation is expected lend direct support, offer athletes stipends and out-of-pocket expenses, a medal bonus and health and accident insurance. Lewis said the TTOC is discussing with corporate T&T the possibility of internships to prepare athletes for life after sport and life skills training. The Foundation will also host an anti-doping workshop to educate athletes about the new law coming into place from January 1 ,2015.

Lewis said the Rio 2016 Olympic solidarity scholarship will afford eight athletes the opportunity to get assistance for training and the TTOC is targeting 75 athletes for the Brazil-based quadrennial games, including two team sports qualifiers.

The Olympic Committee president added that the Foundation will be complementary to the Ministry of Sport Elite Athletes Assistance Programme (EAAP)

“In terms of what is required to be able to properly prepare, with the proper competition technology, sports psychologists....having a fund that is dedicated to the high performance effort, other countries have identified the need to deepen the support they provide to elite athletes. If we are serious about winning medals at the Olympics and other international and global events, we cannot expect our athletes to do it in current circumstances,” Lewis said.

Former world boxing champion Ria Ramnarine is calling on the guardians of boxing to take note of the absence of female boxers in the country. “After the foundation set by myself and the late Giselle Salandy, it is unfortunate that there is a significant lack of women in the sport at this time.

Even the national female team is not encouraged to continue in the pursuit of their boxing goals simply because of the lack of focus and opportunities provided by the sport’s custodians”, said Ramnarine. Currently Ramnarine is the only female 3-Star AIBA certified coach in the region and has indicated that she is disappointed that women’s boxing seem to be a “thing of the past” in T&T. 
Except for the National Championships and one local boxing card which featured the female boxers, there was no other local competition for the women.

Ramnarine noted that the few women in the sport lost interest because of the lack of incentive. “All the girls wanted was to be able to put their training to use. To box. To compete. Some of them spent time at the national camp but returned to their homes and jobs after some months when it was evident that they were not being given the chance to compete. For example, Chimere Taylor has the skill to succeed on the international level, but without match practice, she gains no experience and as such, it is difficult for her to capitalise on her skills”.

There are so few women in the sport in T&T that regional opponents have to be flown in which makes it costly to promote the female bouts. However, Ramnarine believes that with the inclusion of women boxing in the Olympics, the efforts should be made to give the women boxers a chance to ply their trade. She indicated that this year they failed at an international level but attributed this to the lack of experience.

Having walked the road, albeit that of a professional, Ramnarine said it was very difficult to maintain a high level of skill, commitment and motivation without competition. She has called specifically on Boxu Potts to explain why there has been no focus on the female boxers of late. Ramnarine went on to say, “Mr Potts has been one of the promoters of women’s boxing and has been recognized internationally for his efforts.

I am asking why he is now absent from lobbying for women’s boxing. He is the special advisor to the Boxing Board of Control and I would have thought that he would have simply advised that the women boxers should be focused on as well. Having promoted Salandy and myself with great success, and although he is not actually a promoter nowadays, I think his position would allow him to properly advise the Board that we have a chance at Olympic qualification if the women are given the necessary competitions and tools to prepare”.

Noting the 2014 success of the Michael Alexander in the amateur circuit and Prince-Lee Isidore on the pro scene, Ramnarine believes that given the chance, the women can succeed also. Having been afforded the opportunity by the Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee to be part of the International Coaching Enrichment Certification Program in the USA, Ramnarine indicated that she is currently working on a program to encourage more young women and girls to participate in the sport as part of her thesis. “Boxing on the whole has been in a slumber. Only the likes of Alexander and Isidore have given a shimmer of hope and they too need assistance to continue their success. I sincerely hope that the guardians of the sport can wake up before we lose all hope”, ended Ramnarine.