Academics, economists and public policy technocrats and theorists need to be more open-minded and less dismissive regarding sport in T&T and the social and economic benefits and opportunities that can be derived. Ignorance, either deliberate or unintentional, can no longer be an excuse as it is suffocating the possibilities that abound within sport.
According to the experts, we are facing grim economic prospects. The irony is that if this country is facing a grim economic future, it is the very same experts who have us in this situation.
Yet again, the experts roll out statements, views and opinions and policy perspectives that focus on manufacturing, agriculture, information and communication technology, renewable energy, film, and fashion as more promising candidates for making the T&T economy less vulnerable to world energy ups and downs.
Nothing about sport. Why ?
It can’t be that the experts and their clique are not unaware that the global sport industry is estimated at US $600 billion and that the economic growth has outpaced GDP across the developed world. Why ignore sport when meaningful discussions and debate take place about how T&T will rise above the grim economic situation.
The culture code in T&T seems to prejudice grassroots economy with the perception that there is a deliberate intent to stifle and keep outside the tent of the formal economy. Some have said it is more about a deep seated desire to keep the grassroots out of the commanding heights.
Globally, sport commands serious attention. But here, sport as a business sector is given even less consideration than music, art and entertainment. For a number of years, many have asked why. It’s as if there is a conspiracy to deny a seat at the table for those who may not meet the criteria, whatever that may be in the cloistered ivory tower.
There are micro, small and medium enterprise opportunities in sport. I have long advocated for sport entrepreneurship—even teaching for a semester a course in sport entrepreneurship at the UWI Masters in sport management programme.
I am not saying that sport or the business of sport will solve all the economic woes. That would be in unrealistic. But certainly sport can make a dent. This year, will be a great year for sport in T&T. It is an Olympic year. Our athletes are all capable of mounting the podium.
The critical factor is ensuring that they are as well prepared as they can possibly be for an event. Olympic Games comes every four years. It’s a special event that requires proper preparation. A couple of other reasons why 2016 is special include the fact that the TTOC was established in 1946 and will therefore celebrate 70 years.
Also Hasely Crawford Montreal Olympic gold medal was won in 1976. This year is the 40th anniversary. It will be a busy year for all those involved in the Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Movement. But sports is about the big stage and coping with all the pressure that is part and parcel of the Olympic games.
Its not for the faint-hearted. It is going to be exciting. On a related matter, the Trinidad and Tobago International Marathon will be held on January 17.
As I attempted to do last year, I will endeavour to complete the 26.2 mile journey so as to raise awareness and funding for the TTOC ten or more Olympic gold medals by 2024 athlete welfare and preparation fund.
• Brian Lewis is president of the T&T Olympic Committee (TTOC). The views expressed are not necessarily those of the Olympic Committee. Support #TeamTTO. Purchase your Olympic T-shirts at any branch of The Fan Club, Movietowne, Gulf City, Trincity or Aboutique Malls.