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Preparing the modern sports administrator - Things that Matter column

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The Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee (TTOC) focus on capacity support for member national sport organisations (NSOs) is bearing fruit and the turning point is underway. Those who believe that sport administration is facing serious problems need not be alarmed. Based on the participants signing up for the TTOC sport administration courses there is  significant interest in learning about what it takes to be a forward thinking modern sport administrator.

The participants attending the course are determined to make a positive difference as they share experiences and discussions about the betterment of sport. No matter the problems they have an enthusiasm and passion that augurs well for the future. This is not to say that frustration may not set in. But there is a positivity and willingness to confront the issues and wrestle with the solutions that is admirable. They are fearless, inspired and motivated.

The intention of the TTOC in hosting annually a number of courses and workshops is a singular one—to help build capacity, knowledge and skill. Enhancing the ability of those who have a keen interest in sport administration is an important priority. Encouraging participants to take the initiative. To unlock their sport leadership potential so as to transform T&T sport is well worth the effort.

Recent participants include a number of past and current national level athletes who have signed up for the courses and workshops and have stuck it out to the end. Unearthing a new breed of sport administrators who are imaginative and bright these disruptors aren’t contented to complain and do nothing. They are willing to get up and get, hardworking, committed and willing.

They are honest in facing up to the major issues facing T&T sport—the economy and other matters of public concern. That there are structural and systemic social and economic problems facing sport isn’t overwhelming and intimidating the new breed of course participants. They are prepared to challenge the status quo and those who are ineffective in representing the position of sport and the athletes.

The modernisation of T&T sport is an ongoing process. It is important that the TTOC through Olympic Solidarity programmes and funding continue to strengthen national sport organisations management and governance structures. Through the tools provided by Olympic Solidarity the TTOC has been able to continue to develop sport administration training courses.

Moving past the sport administrators’ course is the advanced sports management course which is based on student participation, practical implementation of the material studied through case studies, sharing of experiences and the development of a learning community. The aim of the advanced course is to give a new perspective on sports organisations.

The case study approach is aimed at placing the participants in reality based situations while thinking about future solutions. The sports administrators course provides basic training over a short period. The advanced sports management course is comprised of several modules and an emphasis on acquisition of the skills necessary for sports management.

Sport in T&T will repeat the benefit. The real challenge is for the older heads and thought leaders to not feel threatened by the new ideas and fresh thinking. The TTOC courses and workshops are an incubator of creativity and innovation. The dawn of a new era of T&T sport managers and administrators is here and not a moment too soon. Let’s do it. Embrace and empower change.

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T&T Olympian Bertrand inducted into NYU Athletics hall of fame

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Former T&T Olympian and founder of Arima-based Abilene Wildcats Track Club, Clifton Bertrand, was inducted into the New York University (NYU) Athletics Hall Of Fame (class of 1962) at a posh ceremony, on Saturday. Bertrand, 79, is renowned as one of the institution’s most successful sprinters, particularly for his tenacity, commitment and prowess on the track, which had a significant impact on the success of the 1960s NYU track team.

With Bertrand heavily involved during one of those years, NYU Athletics achieved one of its most proud feats by winning every US track meet it competed in. Seated in the function, looking on proudly was Kenneth Ransome, a Trinidadian, who shared his experience on Saturday, a day he described as a proud moment for the university and for T&T.

“As I sat in the tenth floor grand room of the NYU Kimmel building, tastefully decorated for the affair, I was delightfully astonished at the ease with which he interacted with his former track teammates, and reasoned that character was another key reason he was an essential contributor to NYU track prowess in the 1960s, his charismatic leadership,” said Ransome.

Famously, Bertrand was the first man of African descent to coach the NYU track team “with heavily burdened responsibilities not just as a coach but also one of West Indian and African indigeneity,” according to Ransome. He is also believed to have been the first man of African descent to take become head coach of a major institution in New York and the first West Indian to take the job as a head coach of a major University team in the US.

“Dr Cliff Bertrand accepted his award honorably and humbly. His family and friends, many of whom were from T&T, were filled with pride and ineffable joy,” Ransome added. Bertrand represented T&T at the 1964 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan and at the 1960 Olympic Games in Italy with the British West Indian Federation (the lone T&T athlete). He won four gold medals and one silver at the British West Indies Championships from 1957-1959 during which he won the 200m, 400m and high jump.

At two editions of the Pan American Games in 1959 and 1963, Bertrand won three medals. At the latter, Bertrand won the 400m bronze and another bronze in the 4x400m relay. In 1961, Bertrand was a member of the 4×400-yard team that set the indoor world record at the time (3:16:00), at the Millrose Games, Madison Square Gardens in 1961.

Among other achievements was once being on the receiving end of the prestigious Martin Luther King Award. He was a former coach of Jamaica High School in New York, Daytona Club and Mausica Teachers’ College of T&T.

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Njisane is Keirin king

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After retaining his coveted sprint title along the Arima Velodrome track on night-two of the 2015 National Cycling Championships, Rigtech Sonics hitman Njisane Phillip doubled-up with another golden showing in the Elite Men Keirin event which sped off on Sunday night.

Lining up in the 1-6 final, Phillip faced off against long-time sprint rival Quincy Alexander (Team DPS) and his club-mates Jude Codrington and Justin Roberts, Kwesi Browne (Arima Wheelers) and Rigtech’s Keron Bramble.

Having ousted Alexander in the final of the Men’s Sprint one night prior, Phillip affirmed authority once more when he blasted to victory ahead of the bunch to capture the Keirin crown. Alexander was again forced to settle for the silver medal while youngster Browne held on to the bronze.

Rounding off the top six finishers were Codrington, Roberts and Bramble respectively. And in the 7-10 final, Nevin Malco (Bike Smith) was first and seventh overall while Jonathan Harding (PSL) was relegated.

The two remaining finalists, Azikiwe Kellar (PSL) and Thireef Smart (Petrotrin), did not start.

Meanwhile, Varun Maharajh (Rigtech Sonics) proved to be the most promising endurance rider for the twin-island republic as he pedalled to gold in the Elite Men Omnium, winning four of the six stages contested.

In the final event — Points Race — Maharajh lapped the field a mesmerising six times while Campbell trailed closely behind, lapping the bunch on five occasions.

Finishing in a highly credible runner-up position was senior National debutant Akil Campbell.

The 2014 Caribbean Junior Road and Time Trial champion placed second in four of the six events, with victories coming ahead of Maharajh in the Flying 250m and 1km Time Trial.

Placing third overall was Gavyn Nero (Team DPS) while Sheldon Ramjit (Hummingbird) was fourth.

Team DPS finished among the medals as Codrington saved his energy for the Elite Men Standing 250m, where he produced a new National record of 18.672 at a speed of 48.201km/h.

Holding on to runner-up position this time around was Harding and third placed Kellar.

In the women’s equivalent, in-form rider and Pan Am Junior double gold medallist Kollyn St George (Breakaway) bagged her second gold of the Championships in 21.210.

She beat to the line Arima Wheelers’ Aziza Browne and fellow Pan American Team Sprint gold medallist Keiana Lester, who were second and third respectively.

Lester would however take top honours in the Junior Women Keirin, ousting Teneil Campbell (Rigtech Sonics) and Dominique Lovell (Arima Wheelers) respectively.

Sei Daniel also copped his second title of the tourney when he rode to victory in the Junior Men Keirin.

On his journey to the top, Daniel successfully fended off runner-up David Orr (Bike Smith) and bronze receiver Akim Constantine.

The Elite Women edition of this event also saw Jodi Goodridge (Arima Wheelers) top the field ahead of eventual runner-up Aziza Browne and Cheyenne Awai, also of Arima, respectively.

The final leg of the 2015 National Cycling Championships rode off from 7pm last night with the Time Trial and Individual Pursuit events.

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St Augustine v-ball women hope to stop Bajans

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IT’S FAIR COMMENT to say that when the UWI Games get underway in TT on May 21, the hosts campus will be hard-pressed to turn home advantage into victory. While not impossible, the odds are clearly against them. One has to look further back than the last three editions to find St Augustine top of the heap, and that fact is not lost on any of the campus squads preparing for the event, among which is the Women’s Volleyball outfit.

Trinidad and Tobago may boast of having the top national women’s volleyball team in the English-speaking Caribbean, but the records are not so flattering for St Augustine at the UWI Games. The women’s title has eluded them in recent times; Mona Campus took it in TT 2009, the hosts Cave Hill did so in 2011 and repeated as women’s champions at Mona in 2013.

Macsood Ali, the long-standing St Augustine women’s coach, could not immediately recall their last victory. “Over the years, we win some and we normally come second,” he told Newsday. “We never really come third.” Ali has been a national coach since 1992; he is head coach at El Socorro-based Glamorgan and he also coaches a number of secondary school teams, as well as the St Augustine campus squad.

Fine-tuning for this month’s campaign was moved to the Eastern Credit Union La Joya auditorium, as the UWI Sports and Physical Education Centre (UWI-SPEC) facility is booked for campus examinations.

Exams are also playing havoc with their sessions, but the players are quite upbeat in spite of all the challenges. Shushanna Marshall, an outside-hitter, says they make adjustments as necessary. “Some of the players aren’t here right now, but we understand that education is priority. You would like everyone to come out, but at vital times, once we have a setter and you have the outside attackers like myself, Avi and Mershawna, who’s also a libero, it works.”

Marshall, a 25-year-old Masters student in Agri Safety & Quality Assurance, has developed rapidly as a player since taking up the sport eight years ago; she was a member of the team that finished runners-up at Mona in 2013, and recently captained Glamorgan in the Super League.

Avoni Seymour, a Bahamian national team player is another the team will rely heavily on. “I understand some of the girls are new, but some of them are really good, like Shushanna.” An outside-hitter and defensive specialist, Avoni says she enjoys helping her less-experienced teammates. One of three players who are studying medicine, she says that by means of time management, the sport is an asset in her academic pursuits. “I love sports in general, but I focus my time on my schooling and my part-time job at the university, as well as training for volleyball; and volleyball is also a stress reliever for me so I use it to help balance off my schooling with my job.”

The team also includes two players who have represented TT at junior international level. Assisted by his son Saleem, a former national Men’s player, Coach Ali says they basically work on every aspect of the game. “Physical fitness, drills, then probably one part of the game you want to work on, maybe tonight, middle-blocking; you work on parts of the game you think you’re weak in, and try to develop all aspects.”

If they can pull it off, victory would go a long way towards St Augustine taking the title of champion Campus.

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Joseph preparing for World, Olympic Games

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Melissa Joseph, 20, is keen on bringing glory to Trinidad and Tobago at the 2015 World Taekwondo Championships and 2016 Olympics.

Joseph, is a US-based, American born, WTF Global Licensed Taekwondo athlete, born to TT parents.

She represented the USA, competing at an International level, but has switched allegiances to Trinidad and Tobago.

Joseph is a multiple international taekwondo medallist and has performed at the top “G” ranked status tournaments.

She has displayed resounding ambition and talent, exemplifying a serious nature regarding her career. Such testament to her diversity is that Joseph is a former Miss Horizonte Pageant (representing Trinidad and Tobago) third runner-up in 2012.

She has been selected by the Trinidad and Tobago Taekwondo Association to represent the national team, with two main goals — the 2015 WTF World Taekwondo Championships in Chelybinsk, Russia from May 12-18, as well as the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio. These games are the dual pinnacle in the world for taekwondo.

Joseph is currently a medical student at the University of South Florida in Tampa, Florida, so between studies, charity work and professional competition, her goals are lofty but she believes they are attainable because of her ambitious nature.

Training out of two taekwondo training bases in Orlando and Tampa, Florida, Joseph is intent on pursuing excellence. Persons interested in funding Joseph’s quest for these Games can go to http://www.gofundme.com/r63bq5g. Joseph can be contacted via her fan club email at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

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