No time to sit on the fence

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The National Budget presented on Friday by Minister of Finance Colm Imbert made it abundantly clear that the days of spending what you don’t have are over. The Budget will have significant implications for sport organisations and governing bodies and their respective stakeholders.

Good governance reform in sport must be accelerated with a sense of urgency. Doing more with less requires greater legitimacy, effectiveness, efficiency, transparency and accountability. In simple language - better governance.

A not for profit national sport organisation serves the interest of beneficiaries with varying expectations on what benefits they should receive. No one person or group of people own a not for profit organisation. Individuals in a position of power or influence within a sport are temporary custodians there to protect the sport and pass the baton on to the next generation of leaders and decision-makers. The concept of membership rather than ownership, exists within the sport governance model.

All money earned by or donated to a not for profit organisation is reinvested to pursue the organisation’s purpose as defined by the objects articulated in the organisation’s constitution.

The difference between for profit and not for profit organisations is significant. Adopting best practice methods holistically from the corporate world would ignore the specificity of an NSO (National Sport Organisation).

Without improved sport governance there will be little positive progress.

The Ministry of Sport and Sport Company of Trinidad and Tobago, in line with their responsibility to distribute public/tax payers funds and account for it, must play an important role if sport governance is to improve.

This is not about interference or dictating to NSOs. Certainly not. One simple measure - NSOs must meet and comply with sport governance best practice and principles. NSOs that resist efforts to modernise their governance must understand that obtaining public funding requires compliance.

In an environment where the entire country is called to do more with less, good governance is an imperative. Further discussion aimed at strengthening T&T’s sport governance model is a front burner issue.

Good governance does not in itself guarantee success on the sports field, but its absence almost certainly guarantees failure. The need for ongoing governance improvement viewed in the context of social, commercial and financial challenges can’t be overstated.

National economic pressures mean that sports cannot rely on increased Government funding.

There is an inherent responsibility to the Trinidad and Tobago public to ensure that sports organizations, which receive taxpayer funding comply with modern best practice governance standards. This is not a negotiable obligation.

The TTOC held a governance workshop , met with all of it’s stakeholders, amended into its Constitution to include a good governance commitment, established a Governance commission, signed an MOU with the SIGA( Sport Integrity Global Alliance), all in an effort to support continuous governance reform across the sports system in Trinidad and Tobago.

Current economic challenges present an opportunity to accelerate sport governance reform in Trinidad and Tobago.

The MOU with SIGA requires the TTOC to adhere to a set of universal standards , core principles and practices for good governance - this includes training, education and capacity building.

A fundamental tenet is that sporting organizations must be built on and operate under democratic structures, including free and fair elections, transparent and representative sport governing bodies, and meaningful stakeholder engagement that ensures true representation.

• Brian Lewis is president of the T&T Olympic Committee. The views expressed here are not necessarily those of the T&TOC.

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