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Sancho wants greater support for TT women

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FORMER TRINIDAD and Tobago defender Brent Sancho is calling for greater support for the national women’s team, as they prepare for their 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup qualification CONCACAF-CONMEBOL playoff against Ecuador, on November 8 (in Ecuador) and December 2 (in TT).

The winner of the two-leg playoff will progress to the Women’s World Cup in Canada.

Trinidad and Tobago failed to gain automatic qualification on Sunday, when they fell to a 4-2 defeat, in extra-time, by Mexico in the third-place playoff of the CONCACAF Women’s Championships at the PPL Park in Chester, Pennsylvania, United States.

According to Sancho, in a telephone interview yesterday, “I think, first and foremost, we failed these women, with the preparation that they had, not just the (US) $500 fiasco but even before that. I think we failed them miserably, in terms of making sure that everything was in place for their preparation to be successful.

“I think it’s imperative that we, not just the governing body but also Government and corporate Trinidad and Tobago give priority to these bunch of girls (for them to qualify) to the World Cup by making sure that we give them every single thing needed to assist with their qualification,” he added. “I don’t think we should leave any stone unturned to make sure that we put all that we need to be put in place, and we don’t spare any expense.”

Sancho was a member of the “Soca Warriors” team, under the guidance of Dutch coach Leo Beenhakker, that qualified for the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany.

But the national women squad, dubbed the Soca Princesses, will have to play the first leg of the playoff at altitude in Quito, Ecuador.

Asked about the altitude factor, Sancho replied, “from my experience playing the sport, it’s always a difficult proposition for any team. I’ve seen World Champions and all struggle to play at altitude. Our CONCACAF neighbours Mexico have consistently used it to their advantage.”

He continued, “scientifically, there are procedures that are available to at least give yourself a fighting chance when it comes to altitude. I think that is the realm that we need to go down.”

TT women coach Randy Waldrum was unable to maintain consistency in the starting line-up, as injuries took its toll, with midfielders Tasha St Louis, Karyn Forbes, Ayanna Russell and Janine Francois all spending time on the treatment table.

Sancho, currently the managing director of local club Central FC, noted, “I feel that we can’t leave any stone unturned. I know for a fact there are many players that have Trinidad parentage that play in the US, and here as well. I think we really need to go out there and scratch the surface, and see if we can get players that are of the calibre that could give us that added impetus to push the team forward.”

He added, “when you look at the adversity that this team had throughout the campaign, not just the off-the-field fiasco but the injuries, we need to go out there and probably the players that are within our reach, we need to get them here and make sure they are part of the programme.

“We need to get a pool of players ready, fit and available, to make sure that qualification is our number one goal,” he ended.

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NOT SO FAST

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Cycling Federation names trio for World Cup

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A TRIO of cyclists - Kwesi Browne, Quincy Alexander and Jude Codrington, will represent Trinidad and Tobago at the first leg of the 2014-2015 UCI (International Cycling Union) World Cup series in Guadalajara, Mexico.

The first leg series will be contested on November 8 and 9.

According to a media release from the Trinidad and Tobago Cycling Federation (TTCF), “this World Cup, which acts as the second of ten Olympic qualification events, will see Trinidad and Tobago represented by a strong three-man team who will participate in the events of Keirin, Sprint and Team Sprint.”

Desmond Dickie will serve as coach of the team, while Joel Browne has been appointed as the manager and Kevin Tinto will be the team’s mechanic.

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T&T becoming relic of bygone age - Things that Matter Column

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Recently I read an article about the reasons why the New Zealand 7s rugby team was so successful under Gordon Tietjens. Tietjens coached the New Zealand team for 20 years. His success is legendary. He expects his players to make extreme sacrifices. He revealed that the players have to undergo tests for strength, repeated speed and Beep/YoYo testing.

Tietjens stated that players have to comply with conditioners’ standards.” If they don’t, I don’t pick them”. He expects his players to look after their nutrition, fitness levels and to manage their lifestyles.

Success is mandatory and selection is ruthless. He told the reporter that success in sport, just as in business, depends on culture.

His approach and ethos is mirrored in almost every high performance sport programme across the developed world.

Here in T&T, some people label our sportsmen and women pampered and mentally soft. This is an unfair and judgmental statement meant to cover over the deficiencies of sport leaders, decision makers and the sport system.

There are two sides to every story. What are our athletes saying?

Individual and national team sport athletes determined to maintain their focus and attention on becoming a Continental, Olympic or World champion feel they are being impeded in their efforts by a dysfunctional, bureaucratic, inefficient, ineffective and unsympathetic sport system.

That there are gaps along the pathway from junior to development level and the system is failing those who have the talent and potential to be successful elite level sportsmen and sportswomen.

To achieve excellence they need excellent coaches, excellent training programmes, access to facilities and financial support.

They perceive there is a lack of financial support, lack of coaching expertise and support, lack of training/competition opportunities.

Sportsmen and women perceive the sport system here as an obstacle rather than a success factor.

It makes little sense hiding the extent of the problem.

Lack of support is an obstacle that can negatively impact performance excellence.

In the modern world of elite sport, an amateur athlete or national team is required to train full time to the detriment of other areas of their lives.

Our sportsmen and women need help now, not tomorrow. We have to stop putting the bandwagon before the horse.

Several conclusions can be drawn from the responses of our athletes and national teams.

We are selling our sportsmen and women and national teams short. Our sport system is too far behind.

There is a growing gulf between our sportsmen and women, elite level athletes and national teams and national sport organisations, national governing bodies, Ministry of Sport and the TTOC. The problem needs to be addressed now not later. The landscape is evolving rapidly.

We are fast becoming a relic of a bygone age.

The deficiency has been collective. Elite and Olympic level sport isn’t nebulous. It is performance driven.

Successful athletes and national teams inspire a generation of young people.

We need successful athletes and national teams. Sport provides almost immediate feedback of what you have achieved or not achieved.

People generally have passionate views for a reason. We have to create the sport environment that will inspire our athletes and national teams to strive, achieve and maintain excellence.

Our athletes feel that those in power sit in their ivory tower and remain detached from the feelings and concerns of sportsmen and women. This is not only frustrating but should be of concern to those entrusted with the power and authority to make a positive difference.

The time to start is now.

• Brian Lewis is the President of the Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee. The views expressed are not necessarily those of the National Olympic Committee.

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Time for Urgent review of Elite Athlete Assistance Policy

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Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee (TTOC) president Brian Lewis has called for an urgent review of The Ministry of Sport's Elite  Athlete Assistance Programme (EAAP) policy guidelines. Lewis believes if the review isn't conducted Trinidad and Tobago's  Rio 2016 Olympic medal prospects will be compromised.
According to the national Olympic chief the issue of national teams and support for team sport athletes seeking to qualify for Rio 2016 Olympic Games is another area that requires discussion.
Recently the TTOC had seven applications for Elite Athlete Assistance rejected by the Ministry of Sport on the basis that the applications don't meet the EAAP policy guidelines.
Some of the athletes are in the  4 x 100 and 4 x 400 men and women relay pool.
'We can't adopt the attitude that the athlete don't  meet the guidelines and shut the door in our athletes' faces. Athletes who are part of the relay pool and those with the potential to win medals are placed at a disadvantaged. The policy guidelines should be reviewed. " said Lewis.

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