Policy makers leave sport in no-man’s land - Things That Matter

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What are the barriers to new thinking and innovation and how do they impact on sports’ growth? I believe there has been an absence of self-belief and clear thinking that has left local sport in no-man’s land in respect of policy makers and those who influence policy.

Local economic experts continue to describe sport infrastructure as “unnecessary expenditure.” The economic development advisory board, loaded with esteemed holders of doctorates, points to creative industries as one opportunity for integration in national development but no apparent inclusion of the sport industry.

Innovation and creativity are the engines of economic growth, but other factors create barriers. How do you overcome them and keep innovation ongoing?

Those who are afraid of risk miss valuable opportunities for innovation and growth. We have to foster a culture of calculated risk-taking. Innovation struggles in organisations that promote micromanagement and a “command and control” style of leadership.

Decision makers need to listen when someone suggests a new idea, discuss how it could work. Try saying ‘yes’ more often and provide opportunities for feedback and improvement.

Don’t let the past kill the future. Times change and what worked well in the past may not do so now- that can be a hard thing for conventional wisdom and the status quo to accept. As a result, barriers are created and innovation fails to flourish and new ideas are killed.

Curbing non-essential capital expenditure will substantially help growth, but that doesn’t have to mean putting a stop to spending. It just means redirecting finances in a more efficient way, freeing up funds for other strategic investments.

T&T boxer Nigel Paul shot into the national spotlight by earning a place in the Rio Olympics boxing competition. The super heavyweight is one year into his boxing career - a case of calculated risk taking for the 26-year-old, his family, his coach Floyd Trumpet, and the Trinidad and Tobago Olympic, and the Boxing Association led by its president Cecil Forde.

Paul, a 6ft 4 inches, then 325 lbs basketball player, decided to take up boxing. According to Paul, his coach told him from day one that he would qualify for the Rio Olympics. An articulate and confident Paul spoke eloquently on his arrival at the Diplomatic lounge at the Piarco Airport on his return from Argentina.

His feat highlights the latent potential of T&T sport in general when creativity, imagination and innovation is allowed space to make a difference. Paul, in only his 11th career fight, sealed a place at the Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games in Brazil later this year.

lt is my firm conviction that the potential for T&T sports, events and athletes over the long-term is huge and sustainable. The power of sport will define T&T's standing on the international stage. T&T sport is a key part of T&T's soft power arsenal and contributor to T&T's brand, standing and influence. According to Joseph S Nye Jr. soft power is a quick and cost effective way of getting things done. It is the ability to ensure your voice is heard and acknowledged and is linked to the branding of nations and their brand appeal.

Sport is on the cusp of a golden decade both on and off the field. As local sport stakeholders harness the potential of digital, social media and mobile, we must understand its real value and how to monetise that value. Those who doubt the strategic investment importance of sport to economic and national development and raising the international profile of T&T will in the fullness of time jump on the Team TTO bandwagon.

Brian Lewis is president of the T&T Olympic Committee ( TTOC ). The views expressed are not necessarily those of the Olympic Committee. Support #10 Golds24 Athlete Welfare and Preparation Fund. Donations can be made at any branch of Scotiabank account number 171188.

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