The University of Trinidad and Tobago (UTT) which once enjoyed a financial surplus and recruited academia and consultants to bolster the university’s operations has now landed in the red, with staff having to pay the price, as hundreds have been sent home.

Records showed over a 20-month period UTT would have spent between $18 and $26 million to maintain 48 temporary academic staff on its payroll.

In addition, the university also paid exorbitant daily fees amounting to millions of dollars to seven contracted consultants to provide support in a number of areas.

Outside of the 55 recruits, UTT had to pay over 1,000 staff members plus non-staff costs.

Officials at UTT believe this wanton spending could have led the university to fall in a financial hole that they could not climb out of, forcing them to cut staff long before the COVID-19 pandemic crippled the economy.

In an interview with Guardian Media on Thursday, UTT’s newly appointed chairman Prof Clement Imbert admitted he had always advocated that UTT should not have hired additional staff, but when Prof Ken Julien came with suggestions, the board would agree.

In June, Julien was removed as UTT’s chairman following a restructuring of the board and replaced by Imbert.

The issue of the hirings was raised on June 26, 2017, in Parliament, when then Chaguanas East MP Fazal Karim asked then education minister Anthony Garcia under whose purview UTT fell, to provide a written response to a list of persons, their positions and remuneration UTT had retained as academic staff and consultants from October 2015 to date.

A copy of the written response provided by Parliament showed that UTT had retained 48 academic staff- three instructors 1, nine instructors II, 19 senior instructors, 11 assistant professors, two associate professors and four professors from October 2015 to May 2017 to “bolster the delivery of the institution’s academic programmes.”

The document revealed an instructor 1 received a salary between $12,000 to $15,000, an instructor II was paid between $15,000 to $18,000, a senior instructor’s salary fell within the bracket $18,000 to $28,000, an assistant professor collected between $22,000 to $32,000, the pay of an associate professor was between $24,000 to $34,000 while the numeration of a professor ranged between $35,000 to $45,0000.

During the 20 months the academic staff worked for the university, UTT paid between $18.8 million and $26.7 million.

The document also reported that UTT retained seven contracted consultants, some of whom received a “daily fee” of $3,000, $2,750 and $2,000 for a variety of services rendered to the university.

The names of the consultants were listed as David Bhajan, Lennard Prescod, Cedric Connor, Kenneth Butcher, Colin Stevenson, David Mc Gaw and Natasha David.

Bhajan who was assigned to cover matters relating to capital projects, maintenance and related operations worked from November 17, 2015 to May 17, 2016 at a daily fee of “$2,750 as required,” currently serves as UTT’s assistant vice president infrastructure and maintenance.

He also worked as UTT’s vice president of capital projects and institutional planning.

Prescod who served from November 17, 2015 to September 30, 2017 was paid a daily fee of “$2,750 as required” handling matters relating to governance and financial management systems.

Connor whose period of engagement was the same as Prescod dealt with matters relating to human resources and organisation development for a daily fee of $2,500 as required.

Retained from July 1 to December 31, 2016, Butcher was paid $3,000 a day to review sports programmes delivered by the Academy of Sport and Recreation.

Stevenson served from June 21 to 29 in 2016 and on August 11,15 and 22, 2016 at a daily rate of £350 to provide support to maritime programmes as well as “to interview instructors and meeting with UTT chairman in London.”

Mc Gaw received a daily fee of $2,000 as required for 12 days for assessment of the academic staff for current teaching programmes and identification of needs in the professorial ranks.

From November 16, 2015 to April 30 2016 David received a monthly fee of $18,000 while from May 1, 2016 to December 31, 2017 she collected $40,000 a month for “executive assistance in implementing and/or coordinating the discharge of responsibilities of the office of the chairman.”

In a bid to get more answers about the hirings, former UTT registrar Phillip Robinson submitted a Freedom of Information request on October 18, 2019 to UTT seeking:

1) request for proposals for the supply of consultancy services identified functions,

2) evidence of a transparent process to assess the independence/competence/suitability of each of the recommended consultants,

3) the endorsement by the Board of Governors (BOG) of the process for selection and recommendation.

Responding to the questions on January 8, 2020, UTT’s senior manager legal, Dayle Connelly wrote, “no request for proposals was issued by the university in respect of this particular consultancy services.”

The consultants, Connelly stated “were single-sourced on the basis of their knowledge and work experience in the related field and more so, their historical knowledge of the university” while “the engagement of the consultants was ratified by the BOG at its first meeting in December 2015.”

Earlier this month, Guardian Media reported exclusively that UTT was faced with a $57 million cash deficit for the fiscal year 2021, which could result in its 800 plus workers having to take a salary cut.

The news of the 16-year-old UTT’s financial troubles was documented in a letter sent to its acting president Prof Prakash Persad by financial controller Feona Lue Ping Wa informing him that the university had requested a budget allocation of $270 million prior to Finance Minister Colm Imbert delivering the 2021 fiscal package on October 5.

However, the university was only allocated $180 million which Lue Ping Wa stated, “cannot even meet payroll costs (salaries) much less non-payroll costs.”

Questioned if UTT has been mismanaging its funds and channelling its dwindling subventions into the multi-million dollar Tamana campus which is being built for the last 12 years, Imbert said the university got “very generous subventions” years ago.

“And they could not spend it. So UTT ended up with a huge surplus. But that surplus was for recurrent expenditure. And here you had a campus in Tamana languishing and could not be finished...and whatever, so, UTT asked for permission, quite rightly to transfer some of these recurrent savings to capital expenditure. And that is what happened.”

Pressed if this led to the financial downfall of UTT, Imbert replied “who is to anticipate that we would get smaller and smaller monies over the years? So here it had this chunk of money and we took about half of it ...not all of it.”

At that time, he said it was good to have savings.

“If we didn’t have those savings UTT would have been gone through three...four years ago. The savings have evaporated. It’s not a question of a downfall.”

He said when UTT began to expand its programmes they had to hire academic staff.

“The academic staff we have at UTT... they are overloaded. You just have to look at the numbers of how many courses these people are doing. So, if that happened in the past it certainly is not happening now.”

Did UTT bad spend money to hire consultants and additional academic staff?

“To attract top-level staff UTT paid good money. UTT had a lot of foreign staff because we just didn’t have the people in Trinidad and Tobago at the time,” Imbert said.

When hard times hit UTT, Imbert said they had to reduce staff and costs.

He said most universities in developing countries are financially supported 80 to 85 per cent by the State.

Many of the foreign workers, he said, have since been replaced by qualified local people.

But when asked how UTT arrived at paying such exorbitant daily fees, Imbert said there was a cap.

“We say a daily rate but you cannot get more than either $30,000 or $40,000 a month.”

He said the board placed a lot of faith in Julien.

“The chairman would come with suggestions and the board would agree. I have always advocated that we should not have all these people. Since taking over in June I told two of the consultants you’ll have been here for a long time…you used to work here, you can hand over very easily… two months just hand over for me.”

In September, Imbert said former Miss Universe Wendy Fitzwilliam’s contract came to an end.

Fitzwilliam, he said, helped with “outreach programmes” and had been assisting with “marketing of the fashion production facility” locally, regionally and internationally.

However, he said Fitzwilliam continues to work pro bono for the university.

“The only consultant we have there because that is the person who does work in the chairman’s office is Natasha David.”


When the Global Association of International Sports Federations (GAISF) General Assembly approved the International Federation of Teqball (FITEQ)’s application for full membership on November 10, naturally I was filled with a mixture of emotions.

My first instinct was to feel a sense of relief, which quickly turned to a feeling of gratitude for the GAISF family’s support for teqball.

However, at FITEQ we are not the type to celebrate our successes for too long and I was soon focused on the realisation that this was the opening of a new chapter in the teqball story.

As we look ahead, we cannot ignore that the sports industry is still facing significant challenges with the COVID-19 pandemic, which in my view has been the single biggest influence on the sports industry this millennium.

That being said, the sports family has shown resilience and tenacity this year, giving me confidence that, as a united family, we will overcome this difficult period.

As sport continues its road to recovery, next year promises to be our most exciting to date. Our goal of giving our athletes the platform to excel on the global stage will be realised at the Sanya Asian Beach Games in April, where teqball is making its debut as a medal sport.

We will then have the chance to once again showcase our youth-focused, dynamic and inclusive sport to the whole of Asia when teqball features as a demonstration sport at the 2021 Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games in Thailand.

These two major events are an opportunity for teqball to demonstrate its value to multisport games organisers, particularly the ability to attract the eyes of our more than three million social media followers.

Our overarching focus, however, remains the daily effort to welcome new players and fans to the teqball family. To do this, we must continue to offer our unwavering support to our existing, as well as new, National Federations.

As in all sports, they are the beating heart of teqball and through our National Federation and Club Development programmes, FITEQ will continue to invest in the future of our sport by giving them the tools to succeed.

There is still a long way to go but GAISF full membership gives us an important, additional layer of credibility and further impetus on our journey of taking teqball around the world. As we look to engage with more National Olympic Committees and Ministries of Sport to help take our sport to the next level, the guidance of GAISF will be invaluable.

Currently we have 82 National Federations, 53 of which are recognised by their NOC or Sports Ministry. This is a sign of the global nature of teqball’s growth, but this is also only the beginning of our story.

When we host our World Championships next year, we want close to 100 countries participating. We’re ambitious but we’re ambitious for a reason. In a year of uncertainty, postponements and ongoing challenges, the teqball family can still reflect on 2020 as one of significant progress and we have every reason to believe we can make 2021 even better.

This year, we have had the chance to work with some truly inspiring organisations. From the support of our regional partners like the Olympic Council of Asia, Association of National Olympic Committees of Africa and the Organisation of Sports Federations of Oceania, to partnering with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change on sport’s critical role in the climate change effort, all the way to working with the World Anti-Doping Agency and the International Testing Agency to develop robust anti-doping policies, we have an abundance of positive stories to tell.

However, as GAISF President Raffaele Chiulli told us this week, building on our GAISF full membership is where the hard and responsible work really starts! FITEQ is honoured to be recognised as a GAISF member and we are deeply grateful to the whole sports family for welcoming teqball with open arms.

But we are under no illusions that our journey is complete. In fact, our journey is just beginning. This is the start of a new chapter and we cannot wait to tell the world the teqball story.


Global Esports Federation looks to the future of esports, gears up to 2021 and beyond with its flagship international competitive esports event

[Source: Global Esports Federation] The Board of the Global Esports Federation confirmed its flagship event, the Global Esports Games (GEG),will be held for the first time in December 2021. The annual GEG will be hosted in December each year, featuring multi-title esports competitions, capped by world-class Opening and Closing Ceremonies, GEFcon – a thought-leadership convention, and GEFestival – a dynamic celebration of the inclusive esports culture, highlighting music, art, technology, fashion, food and more.

“The Global Esports Games serves as a platform to showcase the world’s best athletes, players, industry partners, brands, innovations and the responsible use of technology in esports,” said Chris Chan, President, Global Esports Federation. “In parallel, the GEF will stage GEFcon – a multi-platform conferencing showcase for dialogue on responsible gaming, technological advancement and shared learning – bringing people together for the celebration of esports.”

The GEF has received an unprecedented response following its global call for expressions of interest to host the Global Esports Games. Member Federations from 20 countries will attend an Applicant Briefing session on Friday, October 30, 2020, led by GEF Board Member, Lorenzo Giorgetti, as Chair of the GEF Selection Committee. The briefing will provide the applicants with detailed information on the opportunities, requirements and the selection process.

The Board of the GEF has confirmed that a Coordination Commission will be established to oversee the planning, preparation and staging of the Global Esports Games. Four-time Olympian and acclaimed global business and sports leader, Angela Ruggiero (USA), will head the Commission together with Senior Advisor to the GEF Board and Vice President of the Olympic Council of Asia, Luzeng Song (China),as Co-chairs of the Commission. The experienced duo will lead a team of Members of the GEF Board, experts and advisors, adding their distinguished leadership experience to the planning, preparation and staging of the GEG.

“I look forward to ensuring that esports athletes have the optimal conditions to shine. I am particularly interested in the vast potential and diverse opportunities esports can offer the world,” said Angela Ruggiero, Co-Chair, Coordination Commission, Global Esports Federation. “I believe esports is delivering in new ways, leveraging on technology that can appeal to younger audiences and fans across the world. The Global Esports Games will be an exciting new frontier for the convergence of esports and traditional sports.”

As esports continues to advance on the global stage, the Global Esports Games is positioned to reset the bar and offer a new level for athletes and players and the entire esports community. Song Luzeng brings with him close to 40 years of experience in the Olympic movement and will contribute to the complex task of overseeing the successful preparations and staging of the Global Esports Games.

The Global Esports Games is an unprecedented multi-title esports event of a global scale to combine the gaming, performance, education, and business aspects of esports onto one international stage. The GEG paves the way for the future of esports – convening some of the best-known names in esports globally, elevating the credibility, legitimacy and prestige of esports.


Host City 2020 takes place on 8-9 December, hosted online from Glasgow, Scotland, set to reach a global audience of 1,000 major event industry professionals

Host City, renowned for the highest level of speakers and content, is excelling itself at this year’s event with an unprecedented level and diversity of representation from the world’s greatest event owners, organisers and hosts.

In addition to great content, the digital platform enables all the other hallmarks of Host City – world class networking, and an exhibition of events, hosts and expert suppliers.

Paul Bush OBE, Director of Events, VisitScotland and Bridget McConnell CBE, Chief Executive, Glasgow Life open proceedings addressing the conference theme, The Big Restart: Hosting with a Purpose for the Digital Age. Further keynotes follow from Sir Craig Reedie GBE, Member, International Olympic Committee (IOC) and Etienne Thobois CEO Paris 2024 Organising Committee for the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

The opening session also stars Roxana Mărăcineanu, Minister of Sports, France, Ian Reid, CEO, Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games, Khunying Patama Leeswadtrakul, IOC Member and Vice President, Badminton World Federation and Fanta Diallo, Director of Sports, Youth and Community, City of Dakar.

The world’s two biggest sports events go head to head at Host City with Georgina Grenon, Director of Environmental Excellence, Paris 2024 Organising Committee for the Olympic and Paralympic Games and Federico Addiechi, Head of Sustainability and Environment, FIFA discussing how major events are contributing to environmental goals. Tim Briercliffe, Secretary General, International Association of Horticultural Producers will also share his perspective on greening cities.

Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games Director Tatsuo Ogura will give an update on preparations to host the Olympic Games in Tokyo.

Brian Lewis, President, Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee and Densign White, Chair, Sporting Equals tackle another dominating issue of 2020: the impact of the Black Lives Matter movement, while Sabrina Ibanez, President of the Association of Paralympic Sports Associations leads the panel on inclusion and diversity.

Day Two kicks off with a keynote speech from Sir Russell Coutts KNZM CBE, CEO, SailGP.

World Athletics is well represented at Host City 2020 by CEO Jon Ridgeon and Jakob Larsen, Director of Competition and Events. Niels de Vos, CEO Oregon 21 LLC is also giving an insight into preparations for the upcoming World Athletics Championships.

With digitalisation accelerating rapidly, Bruno Marie-Rose, Director of Technology Paris 2024 Organising Committee for the Olympic and Paralympic Games, Michael Cole Chief Technology Officer European Tour and Alban Dechelotte, Head of Sponsorship & Business Development EU Esport, Riot Games share views on future event delivery and the convergence of digital and real-world events.

Other great speakers include John Langford, Chief Operating Officer, AEG Europe, Michelle Hooper, Tournament Director Rugby World Cup New Zealand 2021, Michael D'hulst Co-Founder & CEO Super League Triathlon.

Major congresses are well represented by Aileen Crawford of Glasgow Convention Bureau, Emily Blitz of the International AIDS Society, Sven Bossu, CEO of the International Association of Convention Centres (AIPC) and Aoife Delmas of the European Society of Cardiology.

Other participating organisations include Aggreko, Department for International Trade, Sport Event Denmark, Global Esports Federation, European Sponsorship Association, International Association of Event Hosts, Association of Global Event Suppliers and many more to be announced.

Speakers, sponsors and exhibitors have access to invitation-only VIP structured networking.

Host City is the largest meeting of cities and sports, business and cultural events. To exhibit contact For speaking opportunities contact


As TT continues to gradually lift its public covid19 restrictions, national athletes are gearing up for an anticipated return to elite training.

With the Tokyo Olympic Games just eight months away and a packed schedule of regional and international tournaments scheduled for early 2021, athlete-preparation remains top priority.

This was the sentiment shared by Minister of Sport and Community Development Shamfa Cudjoe during a meeting of the nation’s top sport administrators at the ministry’s Nicholas Tower office, in Port of Spain, on Monday.

“Preparedness must be high on our agenda for sport. As such, we need to address the issues that directly and indirectly affect our athletes especially as we re-strategise to get them back into training,” said Cudjoe.

Also present at Monday’s meeting were Sport Company of TT (SporTT) CEO Jason Williams and chairman Douglas Camacho, TT Olympic (TTOC) president Brian Lewis and National Association of Athletics Administrations (NAAA) president Ephraim Serrette.

Cudjoe was supported by the ministry’s permanent secretary Angela Edwards and acting director of physical education and sports Patrice Charles.

During his address to the minister and other sporting administrators, Camacho said based on the SporTT’s analysis and trajectory, most sporting facilities are ready for athletes to return but with very strict protocols for use.

He said use of the facilities will be properly controlled and with processes and infrastructure in place for sanitisation.

As it relates to high-performance athletes, Camacho said SporTT continues to focus on offering services and support to them and intends to pay more attention to providing support in the area of sport psychology.

“We need to work with athlete right throughout their development, not just for tournaments,” he said.

Additionally, Lewis reminded members that even as they deliberate a return to sport and the revamping of TT’s sports calendar, attention must be placed on the impact of covid19 on the welfare, performance and health of all athletes.

He said, “We have an inherent responsibility to safeguard the health of athletes in our efforts to support their long term growth and career development.”

The meeting also discussed upcoming qualifiers, training programmes, and the administration of the Ministry’s Elite Athletes Assistance Programme (EAAP).

With the Olympics high on the agenda, Serrette spoke to the organisation’s development agenda and preparation for Carifta Games as a lead up to the 2021 Summer Games.

The NAAA president shared his organisation’s ongoing thrust to attract sponsorship from both the private and public sectors. He praised National Gas Company (NGC) for its continued support.

However, he indicated there was a need for other companies to come forward and partner given the potential of both the NAAA’s Youth Elite Athletes Programme and the Kids Athlete Programme.

Serrette was also pleased to see the merging of the sport portfolio with that of community development under one ministry. He reiterated the need for greater attention and investment in training coaches to support school and community programmes.

Minister Cudjoe commended Serrette for his service to the national sporting fraternity, and expressed the ministry’s commitment to working with the NAAA, TTOC and all sporting entities towards maximising the full potential of sport development in TT.


National teams allowed to resume training

National athletes can finally get back to some semblance of normal training activities after Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley announced a relaxing of restrictions for Trinidad and Tobago teams preparing for international competition.

However, Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee president Brian Lewis...