PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, March 15, 2015 - Cristobal Marte Hoffiz, President of the North, Central America and Caribbean Volleyball Confederation (NORCECA) says he wants a more united  Caribbean Zonal Volleyball Association (CAZOVA).


This was the view of Marte Hoffiz during his detailed presentations at the CAZOVA congress held at Cascadia Hotel & Conference Centre.


Marte Hoffiz, who is also the First Vice-President of the International Volleyball Federation (FIVB) noted that of all three bodies –AFECAVOL (Central America) ECVA (Eastern Caribbean) and CAZOVA-  the latter seemed the least united.


A Dominican Republic native, Marte Hoffiz stated that with the work being done in the FIVB, the sport in NORCECA, which he sees as the second best run body behind Europe, is moving forward and at a quick pace.


However, his major concern is that some CAZOVA members are not keeping up with that shift and run the risk of being left behind, which in the end will work against its development and that of the overall body in the future.


Reflecting on the early days, Marte Hoffiz recalled when CAZOVA was now being put together back in the early 1990’s through the efforts of Curacao and now to have 14 full members, along with the ECVA and AFECAVOL combined has made for a strong 41 member NORCECA, a very powerful force in the FIVB.


During his opening remarks, Trinidad & Tobago Olympic Committee president, Brian Lewis send out a challenge to those present to put the sport they were entrusted to lead and govern first, by putting athletes first.


Lewis, said, “It is very important of sporting bodies to understand the importance they have on society today as we are called to serve through sport when we get elected as officials, however too often we tend to be self-serving when elected to serve our important assets, which are the athletes.


He added, “We need not focus on what we as officials can accumulate from the sport, but the positive difference we can make in the sport.


“Sports make a powerful positive difference, but it’s not able to show through when the leaders get it wrong,” warned Lewis.


Speaking directly to Trinidad & Tobago Volleyball Federation president, Daymian Stewart, Lewis said, “Personally as president of the Trinidad & Tobago Olympic Committee, I have set the target of us qualifying two national teams for team events by the 2024 Olympic Games, as part of my 10 gold medals vision, and I see no reason why volleyball can’t be one of those two sports to do so.”


“Over the years volleyball has shown it has the potential and it’s important it does not fall away from the momentum it has generated in recent years.”


The sport of track and field is to benefit from a significant financial injection over the next three years. The National Gas Company (NGC) has committed to contribute $4 million annually to the Athletic’s governing body, the National Association of Athletic Administrations (NAAA) from 2015 to 2017.

The announcement, made by the NGC president, Finance and Information Management Anand Ragbir, means funding from the State-owned company has almost doubled from last year’s input of just over $2.3 million.

Asserting that the company was “meticulous”in ensuring that funds donated through its programmes are used in ways to ensure the best return on investment, Ragbir added the NGC was satisfied its support fitted in with three of the four priorities in the NAAA’s 2012-2016 strategic plan. Those identified priorities were: improved governance, including accountability and capacity building among its member clubs, operational effectiveness and the development of corporate and other partnerships.
Ephraim Serrette, the NAAA president, said the three-year sponsorship would enable his organisation to better plan its programmes, knowing what they have to work with.

“In 2014 we were able to effect a lot more of our operational plans, based on what was set out in the strategic plan because of the intervention of the NGC to the tune of $2.3 million. In the past, we would have been planning with a hope of getting funding to do some of the programmes. It now leaves us with a better planning framework.”

Serrette added that targets set in the sponsorship agreement would provide the impetus to deliver and evaluate. “Our targets,” he said, “are with respect to development, how many more technical officials we are going to train over the next three years, how many more developmental programmes based on the coaches, programmes to deal with drugs in sport, all the different educational aspects of the sport.”

“We can now leave whatever allocation is given to us by the Sport Company towards team travel,” he added, “and the funding that we are getting from the NGC would deal with the administrative and development aspect of the sport.”

Yesterday’s announcement was made at the VIP Lounge of the Hasely Crawford Stadium. Among those in attendance were national icon Hasely Crawford, Minister of Sport Brent Sancho and TT Olympic Committee president Brian Lewis.


Is Trinidad and Tobago serious about Sport , sport development and high performance sport? Do the citizens of Trinidad and Tobago (1)consider Olympic Games and World Championship success important national objectives (2) Understand and appreciate the power and potential of sport?

The reality of the National budget for fiscal year 2014/2015 is that 57 million TT dollars has to be shared by 40 plus national sport organizations(NSOs) , the elite athlete assistance programme and other sport based programmes.

Isn't an allocation of 57 million dollars from a 60 billion  national budget  a clear and unambiguous  policy statement about sport in Trinidad and Tobago ?

57 million dollars out of 60 billion notwithstanding the outstanding contribution sport has made to the country's positive international image, the positive difference sport can make in the lives of  the children, youth and young people of the nation , the healthy lifestyle habits  sport can foster among  the general population , the significant economic potential of Sport and the sense of national pride when our sportsmen and women achieve excellence at the Olympic Games and on the World stage.

Billions invested in building sport facilities and millions spent on Ministry of Sport and Sport Company of Trinidad and Tobago salaries, goods and services.

Yet 40 plus national sport organizations/ national governing bodies each responsible and accountable for leading,managing and governing (1)the development of clubs,athletes,coaches,administrators and technical officials (2) participation growth and national and community development of their respective sports (3) for selecting, entering, preparing, outfitting national athletes and  teams to represent T&T in regional, continental and global tournaments and competitions(4)national competitions and tournaments have to share 57 million dollars in the context of a 60 billion national budget.

The National Gas Company (NGC) is pumping $12 million into the National Association of Athletics Administratons (NAAA) while NAAA president Ephraim Serrette mentioned the organisation is to introduce a board of directors by 2016.

NGC vice-president Finance and Management, Anand Ragbir, made the announcement of the deal at the VIP lounge of the Hasely Crawford Stadium yesterday. It will see the NAAA boosted by $4million annually over the next three years (2015-2017).

The sum represents a substantial increase from last year’s deal in which NGC contributed $2.3 million to the NAAA.

The funds are targetted at a kids athletic programme—similar to the NGC Right on Track programme of previous years)—developmental meets, participation and representation for international meets (for example Penn Relays, World Youth Championship, Pan Am Juniors and Pan Am Games) and capacity building which includes coaching courses and certification, club administration and management courses and officials training.

“NGC is meticulous in ensuring that funds donated through our programme are allocated in such a way as to ensure the best return on investment. We are satisfied, in fact, we rare very pleased that our sponsorship is aligned to the NAAA’s strategic plan 2012-2016,” Ragbir said, adding that the NAAA plan describes three priorities which are a good fit for NGC’s policy.

Ragbir said the first priority is improving governance, which he says will take place through constitutional reform and accountability in the management of athletics clubs.

Secondly the NAAA members will focus on operational effectiveness by increasing manpower and organisational restructuring.

Thirdly the NAAA will move towards developing corporate and other partnerships, leading to greater sustainability and improved financial independence.

“All of these goals are being sought in the context of the upcoming Olympic Games in Brazil next year, where we expect to see the fruits of our labours proudly on display on the international stage. No pressure,” Ragbir quipped.

“We would love to really thank the NGC for this intervention and I must say it is going to take us a long way , “ said Serrette, who had earlier recognised the NAAA for the First Citizens Sport Foundation Best Administration award. “The Association is on a new pathway with respect to restructuring and the whole reform of the constitution and to operate as a company, as a board and in order to do that you need to have some sort of sustainability to attract the skill set that would be necessary for us to function in such a manner. So an intervention like this over a three-year period would definitely be something good for the NAAA.”

Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee (TTOC) president Brian Lewis hailed the relationship between the NAAA and the NGC.

Lewis noted that athletics and track and field had contributed 14 of the 18 Olympic medals T&T have won in their history of participation in the quadrennial Games. And the former Harvard rugby player suggested the sport had not been given its just desserts.

“Of the three sports that have guided this country to Olympic medals-athletics, weight-lifting and swimming, two have never had the opportunity to have a state of the art, world class facility and a training centre so that those sports could have built on their Olympic medals - weight-lifting and athletics,” he said , adding that the country also has not seen it fit to establish a galleria where T&T’s Olympic medalists and history can be seen.

“Of the 200-plus participants in Olympic history, over 150 of them have come from athletics and the question to be asked is why is track and field and athletics not given the respect it deserves given its Olympic record and track record,” Lewis said.

Track and field clubs were also given racing blocks, relay batons and stop watches as part of the NGC package deal.

FLORIS “FLORRIE” Kelshall is pleased with what she has accomplished in the sport of hockey, as she awaits her 100th birthday on January 3 2016.

Kelshall, the former national hockey player and administrator, was specially recognised at last Friday’s First Citizens Sports Foundation Sports Awards at Queen’s Hall, St Ann’s.

And the well-spoken Kelshall admitted that she felt lovely to be recognised by hosts Wendell Constantine and Danielle Jones at the annual award ceremony.

The Humming Bird Medal Silver recipient (1983) noted on Friday night, “I met a lot of old friends that I haven’t seen for years. It’s lovely to have met them.”

Kelshall, who was inducted into the then West Indian Tobacco (WITCO) - now First Citizens Sports Foundation - Sports Hall of Fame in June 1985, also commented on the state of local hockey. “I don’t think we can compare now as it used to be, because, before we played, everybody had known everybody in hockey. Now I hardly hear any news about hockey.”

She continued, “I enjoyed my hockey days. I travelled with the hockey team and I went and played in different countries. I have thousands of friends in hockey.

The Trinidad and Tobago Hockey Board (TTHB) has embarked on a drive to promote the sport at the school level. And Kelshall pointed out, “hockey is a very good sport because (players are able) to share the game. You don’t have to keep it to yourself. You share it with 11 other people on the team.”

She was delighted to point out that, “in my time, we went (to the United States) twice to play and we played in the leagues here.”

Reflecting on how the sporting arena was in her days, Kelshall remarked, “everyone showed an interest in sports and on Saturdays, we’d (be) playing hockey. On Monday mornings people would stop you and say “you missed that goal” or “you got a very good goal”. People were very interested in sports.”

She admitted, “I was born in Barbados, then I went to school in England (at the Ursuline Convent at age 13 and then to the Manchester University to study medicine, specifically optics) and I came back (to the Caribbean) but, instead of going to Barbados, I came to Trinidad (in 1939).”

She continued, “and I played with Ventures Hockey Club, which is part of my life. Then I got married (but) he (Kenneth) didn’t interfere with my hockey at all. I still have a lot of friends from hockey. I made friends, apart from my team.”

Kelshall was in her glee when she spoke about the supporters at the Police Barracks in St James, who will constantly chant “run Florrie, run Florrie, run”. While she was adamant that “I enjoyed my hockey days,” she also noted, “I played badminton at nights and I enjoyed that. And I played tennis at St James Tennis Club and I enjoyed that. I got married and had children (three girls), but the children didn’t interfere with my sport.”

Asked how she possessed the energies to play a variety of sport, she replied, “I was full of energy and I had a very considerate husband. All he said was “don’t involve me in anything, do what you like but don’t involve me”. None of her daughters - Kay, Joy and Kim, played sport, but Kelshall also represented Trinidad and Tobago in the sport of bridge, after she ended her active playing career. As far as her profession was concerned, she was a qualified optician but she also distinguished herself in sporting administration, having been made an honorary life member of the now-defunct TT Women’s Hockey Administration (she was the president from 1955-1962), the first female honorary life member of the TTHB and an honorary life member of Ventures (she was a member since 1940).

She ended, “my family life has been good. I now live with my two daughters in Cascade, one daughter lives in Venezuela.”


It may be passing unnoticed in much of the world but large pockets of the planet have been transfixed over recent weeks by the ongoing Cricket World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.

In particular, by the incredible feast of top class hitting we have seen from the likes of South Africa's AB De Villiers and the West Indies Chris Gayle, two of the most swashbuckling sporting specimens on the planet, in any sport.

But a chance to continue the global expansion and popularity of the game are hardly being helped by the International Cricket Council's decision to reduce the number of teams from 14 to 10 by the time the next World Cup rolls around in England and Wales in 2019.

The decision was made predominantly to reduce the length of the tournament and avoid the kind of mismatches seen in the past, where minnows have been invariably beaten out of sight by the world's finest. Yet, this has generally not been the case over the last two weeks, and the so called "minnow" teams, who do not play in the traditional five-day Test format of the game, have not only held their own but have been involved in many of the most entertaining matches so far.

We have seen shocks, most notably when lowly Ireland edged out the West Indies, a composite team consisting of players from the cricket-mad Caribbean Islands and Guyana which won the first two editions of the World Cup in 1975 and 1979. There have also been thrillingly close clashes between these minnows, with Ireland defeating United Arab Emirates and Afghanistan overcoming Scotland in painfully tight, topsy-turvy and nail-biting fashion.

There would surely must be better ways of reducing the length of the competition than by sacrificing the added spice that these four countries have produced.

There are nagging fears that similar changes may be seen elsewhere in the world of sport, including at the Olympic Games, where the Agenda 2020 reform process is seeking to keep the total number of athletes competing the same, while opening the door to the possibility of new sports and disciplines.

It is therefore possible the number of athletes competing in some events could be cut to accommodate changes, with the lesser participants ostensibly most at risk.

This has not been directly suggested, but protecting the smaller nations was the subject of several questions therein from International Olympic Committee members at December's Session in Monte Carlo.

But minnows are a key part of the Olympics, just as they are the Cricket World Cup and so many other sporting events. One of my best memories at insidethegames was a cricket match at the Asian Games in Incheon, where Kuwait, essentially a village team whose best players were a father and son combination, took on the might of a Bangladesh side packed with international pedigree.

Kuwait got walloped, but that was not the point. It was great to watch and nothing beat the looks of ecstasy on the faces of the Kuwaiti players every time they enjoyed any success, as they did when they won one of their earlier matches via the toss of the coin.

Similar underdogs are seen at most sporting events, from the Trinidad and Tobago rugby sevens team at least summer's Commonwealth Games, to the exploits of Equatorial Guinean swimmer Eric "the Eel" Moussambani at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games.

Further back we had Eddie "the Eagle" Edwards, the British ski jumper known essentially for being useless, but surely the most famous exponent of his sport in history.

Sometimes, arguably in the case of Edwards, and certainly in a sport like boxing, it would be dangerous for the tiniest of minnows to take on the very best, but usually it is a great component and a reason people watch sport.

What's more, it is the best way nations can improve. It is interesting that, in the first years of professionalism in many sports, the top players were getting so much better, contests were becoming more and more lopsided. But a trickle-down effect, in coaching, officiating as well as in players, appears to have taken place, and that is why contests are becoming closer, with cricket one good example.

Another is rugby union, where, although a handful of nations still dominate the 15-a-side game, rugby sevens has got and more competitive, with teams like Kenya, United States, Russia and Brazil competitive along with the likes of New Zealand, South Africa and England.

Although rugby sevens is a sport that lends itself to upsets more than others, the experience these nations have gained by being able to take on the world's best regularly has undoubtedly been a key part of their evolution.

This was a point brought home to me today when attending the formal launch of the bid process for the 2022 Commonwealth Games, where Durban, the sole city left standing following the surprise withdrawal of Edmonton last month, is poised to become the first African host of any major global multi-sport event.

No continent symbolises the underdog more than Africa, and, after hosting World Cups in rugby, cricket and football, the Commonwealth Games would be another step of huge significance.

The last edition of the Games in Glasgow, also produced one of the great victories for a minnows when Kiribati weightlifter David Katoatau triumphed in the under 105 kilogram division.

A wonderful sporting moment predominantly for its unpredictability and significance to a tiny nation of just 100,000 people, unaccustomed to global success.

That would not happen if we did not encourage new countries to participate and it is therefore imperative that, as so many changes are played out across international sport, the plight of the so-called minnows is something that does not get overlooked.