Trinidad and Tobago’s Under 20 men’s team suffered their first defeat, going down disappointingly 2-0 to Guatemala on Wednesday but are still very much in the race to secure one of two World Cup playoff spots at the CONCACAF Championship in Jamaica.

The loss on Wednesday left T&T in fourth place with four points and a plus-two goal difference, level  on  points with United States who are ahead on a plus-seven goal difference after their 8-0 win over Aruba.
Panama are atop the group with nine points and Guatemala are second on seven. Jamaica are fifth with one point, while Aruba remain in the cellar position.
T&T have it in their own hands as victories in their next encounter against Panama on Sunday and against the USA next Wednesday in Montego Bay, are likely to push them into the playoffs from which the top two teams will advance to the FIFA Under-20 World Cup in New Zealand.
Head Coach Derek King expressed his disappointment with the manner in which T&T conceded and gave away Wednesday’s match to the Central Americans.
T&T outshot their opponents 11 to one but Martieon Watson’s unfortunate 25th minute own goal and a disastrous error by goalkeeper Johan Welch in the 88th proved to be the difference.
“I’m very disappointed because we were outstanding in the first 20 minutes. They scored against the run of play, the own goal off Watson. They didn’t create any chances until late in the game. In our final third we were still rushing that final pass which wasn’t always on but we still created a number of chances,” King told TTFA Media.
“Guatemala only dropped off and kept their shape and it worked for them, It’s a tough loss to accept because we were better on the day but the result went in their favour. Goals win matches and now we have to fix that for our next two games.”
King emphasised the importance of T&T bouncing back in their remaining two matches.
“Panama and USA will be very tough but we have it in our hands. We have a few days before those two games in Montego Bay and we’ll have to regroup and try to come back strong to keep the dream alive,” he added.

The incessant drum beat of doom and gloom emanating from the minds, mouths and pens of some of the country’s brightest and best business, political and economic minds may well be the dose of needed realism that is required.

But it is indicative of the lack of vision that has blighted our nation and fuelled a morose, almost desperate inferiority complex.

The plunging oil dollar is not a new situation. Those old enough will have experienced at least one such crisis. History will show we have survived and come through the rough seas. What history will also show is that we haven’t learned anything and keep making the same mistakes again and again.

So every time the oil price takes the not unexpected cyclical dip, our default position is hysteria and desperation masking as realism.

Whatever the economic and social challenges that may be on the horizon, I am confident that we will survive. What I would like to see us do is grab the opportunities to make the fundamental changes that we have avoided. The country’s economy is dependent on oil and gas. There is need to diversify. When would serious and tangible steps be made to transform the economy.

Sport can be an essential player in this transformation. Given appropriate measures that will aid the establishment of a structured policy framework to enable the development of a sport sector, sport will contribute to the growth and sustainability of the non-energy sector of the economy.

Creativity and thinking out of the box is required. Giving serious consideration to sport and a sport sector requires the conventional wisdom to think out of the box.

Structural transformation is urgently needed. We need to radically transform the way people look at sport.

The paradox is that a sport business sector will have to generate profit and return on investment for investors and banks. To successfully develop a sustainable, vibrant and dynamic sport business sector will require people who care deeply about sport, who have a greater sense of purpose other than just money.

Why? Because the battles are simply too tough to fight simply for money’s sake.

What makes a sports team successful? It depends on the sport. In general there is the need for talented, fit and well trained athletes and a competent coaching staff. One thing for sure is that every sport requires its athletes to be physically fit. In the same way establishing a sport sector will require people who have the fundamental skills, the basics without which no business can survive.

Being superbly fit is a basic requirement; it takes more than fitness to win an Olympic medal.

What separates the great athletes from the good and even extraordinary athlete? The greats consistently meet the critical success factors for their chosen sport. The ability to execute on the critical success factors is the difference between great and almost great.

It’s the same in business, medicine, law, entrepreneurship. The winners figure out what are the critical success factors and execute and deliver on them.

We live in a changing world. Trends are all around us. These trends provide an abundant source of opportunities.

What does it take to win?

A Margaret Mead quote points the way. She said: “never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world.”

All we need is a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens to change the fortunes and future of T&T.

Brian Lewis is the president of the T&T Olympic Committee. The views expressed are not necessarily those of the national Olympic committee.

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Recently, I was reviewing the programmes and work undertaken over the past 17 years by the T&T Olympic Committee (TTOC).

One programme that has had a significant impact is the TTOC’s community based sport and recreation programmes.

The concept behind the community programmes is built on the TTOC working along and side by side with various stakeholders in sport, including national sport organisations, coaches, athletes, other sport leaders, corporate partners and government.

An example of such a programme would have been the Shape the Community programme in Point Fortin which was an ambitious programme that set out to fill gaps in sport education in the community through the training of community coaches and the involvement of community members, schools, NSOs and other partners.

Shape your Community focused on integrating sustainable sport and physical activity into the lives of the youth and elderly.

In conjunction with Atlantic LNG, the TTOC afforded children from primary schools in Point Fortin the opportunity to participate in sports that they would not normally be exposed to during the period 2008—2013.

In October 2008, the TTOC launched its legacy programme, Shape the Community. The objectives of the programme in the community are:

• Increase participation in sport, recreation and physical education across all age groups in the communities

• Integrate physical education programmes in primary schools

• Increase corporate involvement in the development of youth through sport

• Develop coaching as a profession

• Create sustainable employment opportunities for the profession of coaching

• Expose youth to sports of varying types in a structured manner

• Increase the reach of the TTOC’s and the IOC’s vision and goals for Olympism

• Establish a developmental pathway for sport in the communities in collaboration with national sport organisations and the Ministry of Sport.

Point Fortin was chosen as the pilot community. Ten primary schools in Point Fortin were chosen to participate in the programme after careful consultation with principals and teachers in the community, the three sports chosen were tennis, swimming and gymnastics.

Training and participation took place between Mondays and Fridays. Each session was one hour long and each class was assigned four hours of activity per month.

The TTOC arranged for the children and supervising teachers to be transported to the various venues. Coaches and volunteers were all recruited from within the community of Point Fortin.

The Point Fortin Borough Corporation supported the programme by waiving the fees for the use of their facilities—the Point Fortin Civic Centre, the Baby Lucas and Guapo Recreational Grounds.

Swimming took place at the Point Fortin community swimming pool in Egypt Village.

The gymnastics programme took place at the South West regional indoor facility.

Coaches were exposed to training along with the volunteers.

The Shape your Community programme was extended to Mayaro with plans to take the programme to other communities and was evaluated by researchers at the Sport and Leisure Academy at the University of T&T.

The intention of the evaluation included highlighting challenges, to work out solutions to these challenges, and to establish baseline measures for other communities across the country.

The Shape your Community project was the brainchild of TTOC past president Larry Romany. It is a programme that made a positive difference and showed that Olympism, the Olympic values and ideals had practical application and wasn’t just a nebulous idealistic notion.

On behalf of the TTOC I wish everyone a Merry Christmas. Be safe and keep Christ in Christmas. He is the reason for the season.

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In 2005, during a Stanford graduation ceremony speech, Steve Jobs, the co-founder of Apple, told the audience: “Stay hungry. Stay foolish.” His message? Don’t settle, don’t be afraid to take risks. Don’t be afraid to be daring and ambitious! Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

The contemporary world whose purchase of choice is the newest smart phone or software and emerging nations with new found spending power are redefining what sport means. Part of the new attitude to sport is the digital transformation—a world where it seems you are only as good as your internet connection.

The sheer talent, promise and potential of the nation’s youth and young people as represented by our athletes is simply breathtaking but you have to watch and pay close attention. In pursuit of their dream, in striving for excellence, our Olympic and Commonwealth athletes endure punishing hours of training and the arduous task of endless repetition.

Often their inspiration, dedication, resilience, commitment and self-discipline go unnoticed. Through sport, our talented sons and daughters break boundaries on the global platform that is the Olympic, Commonwealth and other multi-sport games.

For us at the Olympic Committee, we remain indomitable and passionate in our belief that the goal of the movement to use sport to educate and serve young people, is as relevant today as it was 2000 plus years ago.

One thing is certain: When we engage children and young people and reach out to them to bring them to sport, to show them the power of sport and the Olympic values, we must ensure that their inspirational role models our athletes are at the centre of what we do and why we do what we do.

Moreover, it is essential that we meet the integrity challenge by protecting Olympic and Commonwealth sports from the dangerous threat posed by doping, gambling, the cycle of corruption and poor governance.

If we don’t face these challenges our right to self-regulate, our autonomy, legitimacy our stewardship will be taken away from us. To whom much is given much is expected.

Therefore, I propose that the TTOC will continue to vigorously promote the adoption of good governance and ethics across the country’s Olympic and Commonwealth Sport movement and that we be unwavering and advocate and vigorously promote a good governance code for sport in T&T and ensure that affiliated NSOs align with the Olympic Charter and include in their constitutions basic universal principles of good governance.

The TTOC must lead from the front in championing for the development of a sport industry. This will require not just lobbying and finger pointing but the articulation of the conceptual framework that will inform the policy debate.

Our collective challenge is to take sport mainstream. Sport is still on the margins of T&T society. The children, youth and young people have a lot of different interests that present a threat to active sport and healthy lifestyles.

The responsibility to create and shape a bright sustainable future for tomorrow’s athletes and for sport on the whole falls to our generation of sport leaders, administrators, athletes and coaches.  We have to modernise how we market, promote and brand Olympic and Commonwealth sport and the Olympic and Commonwealth values and ideals to the current and future generation of public, media and corporate audiences.

The climb is steep. The hurdles are high. It is a challenge we must accept. It is a dream we must live and honour. Failure is not an option. There is no excuse. Let us fear not nor impose limits on ourselves.

Let us unite under the tent of our shared values and vision for sport and arm in arm walk our talk and be the change we want to see in doing so let us accept the advice of the late Steve Jobs and Stay hungry, Stay foolish.

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Storm clouds, dark and ominous have enveloped the economic landscape. The price of oil is falling and with it optimism and high hopes.

Finance and Economy Minister Larry Howai last week in a statement to the House of Representatives announced that ministries will be ordered to review spending in light of an oil price beneath that budgeted.

“Ministries will therefore be required to review their budgets to determine areas where expenditure can be suppressed,” Howai said.

“The ministry will continue to monitor what is happening in the global environment and to refine our remedial fiscal measures to ensure that the country can respond appropriately to changes in the market for oil and gas.”

National sport organisations in T&T are impacted by the economy. Any reduction in revenue must be of concern to national sport organisations.

The Finance Minister indicated that all ministries must immediately reduce their expense by 45 million dollars each. He also indicated that further adjustments may be necessary as the situation continues.

National sport organisations must have conversations with their membership to prepare for the volatility that can be expected in light of the economic realities.

From a strategic management perspective, not many national sport organisations would have made allowances for the threat posed by falling oil prices.

In fact most national sport organisations have indicated that they were already faced with significant cuts based on what they had budgeted and submitted.

Sport administrators have suggested that they will have to take drastic measures in respect of their plans and programmes.

The next 12 months are critical in the context of Rio 2016 Olympics.

Any drastic curtailing of programmes and plans to properly prepare this country’s elite and high performance athletes and national teams will prove detrimental and may well put an end to any realistic chances of qualifying for Rio 2016 and for those who do qualify, hamper hopes of winning a coveted medal.

Uncertainty for national sport organisations and athletes can prove distracting but it need not derail efforts to achieve podium targets.

Overcoming the financial challenges will not be easy but remaining positive and determined is the perfect antidote.

Falling oil prices highlight the downside of the dependency on oil and gas as the main pillar of the economy.

Sport presents a number of opportunities and regardless of the price of oil, life will go on.

National sport organisations that are able to forge the appropriate strategic response will cope with the turbulence.

The main concern will be for our athletes. It will be the responsibility of the sport administrators to negate the pitfalls.

The importance of a well-structured resource allocation process becomes a critical success factor. How will national sport organisations invest resources? How will national sport organisations evaluate if its resource allocation is effective?

Falling oil prices and austerity measures need not be detrimental to national sport organisations and athletes. In fact it may well turn out to be a positive turning point for resource allocation within the T&T sport ecosystem.

In a very real sense falling oil prices and the adverse impact on the economy while troubling, presents the opportunity for national sport organisations to become more strategic.

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

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