Things That Matter Column


Things that Matter by Brian LewisIn some vital aspects, sport in T&T remains very much in the dark ages, in particular, in respect to concepts such as long-term athlete development (LTAD), sport science, good governance, sports law, sports marketing and sport management. The Ministry of Sport is doing its part. Since 1997 the TTOC has hosted numerous workshops and seminars in an effort to build capacity within NSOs. UWI and UTT cannot be faulted. Dunning-Kruger, however, remains pronounced. However, there is a silver lining behind the dark cloud. As there is a growing band of young men and women who have studied and qualified in sport science technologies or sport management. ul practitioners don’t have it easy as they find themselves between the proverbial rock and hard place—pioneers and therefore a bit ahead of their time.

Asking these young and passionate newcomers to volunteer their time and effort in a labour of love is a bit harsh. But unfortunately it is the reality of the situation. The perception may be somewhat different. But that is just what it is—perception, not reality. No national team can survive, far less, thrive in the international crucible without legal and ethical sport science interventions. It is impossible to get on to the podium without the use of sports science and all its branches. It is also difficult to raise participation levels and retention rates without a LTAD approach to sport development.In the modern world of sport, sportsmen and women are given individual programmes and daily computerised data on their training performances, the attention to detail ensures that every move is now monitored and analysed.

National teams adopt the GPS (Global Positioning System) tracking device. Worn in training vests, the GPS tracker enables sports scientists to give an individual rundown of each athlete’s performance following training. Heart-rate monitors, ice baths, vitamin D beds, deep-freeze refrigeration technology, eye coaches, Tai Chi.

There are gravity-free treadmills and underwater treadmills. World class sportsmen and women now include yoga as part of their fitness routine. Computerised analysis of opponents is the new norm rather than the exception to the rule. Many of our NSOs are populated by traditionalists who refuse to adapt their thinking to the modern realities of grassroots and elite level sport and as a result continue to place our athletes—elite, age grade and developing in situations where they can only fail. They live in the past—their thinking and methods locked in backward time travel, in an age where Facebook, the Internet and GPS are now part of everyday conversations in sport. NSOs must embrace the modern realities and challenges. Instead of beating a steady path to the Ministry of Sport and Sport Company begging for a hand out as if money is the panacea. The responsibility of regulating, administrating, managing, marketing and developing a particular sport is the purview of national and international governing bodies. Through the process of affiliation with international bodies NSOs are granted the exclusive right to run their respective sport. NSOs must remember they are membership bodies and not public authorities.

Addressing the problems, solving the issues and meeting the challenges head on cannot be delegated. Sport leaders must lead. Sport leaders must innovate, create and inspire. Lead from the front. Don’t pass the buck. In the absence of vibrant, dynamic well organised NSOs, it can be argued there is no need for a Ministry of Sport or Sport Company. There is an evolution taking place in 21st century T&T. It is exciting. T&T Sport can be a legitimate and authentic contributor to this evolution. But NSOs cannot solve modern problems with caveman tools.

Brian Lewis is the Honorary Secretary General of the Trinidad and Tobago Olympic The views expressed are not necessarily those of the TTOC.