The uniqueness of sport and that human beings view sport as a special experience and having a special place in their lives underpin what some say is a love-hate relationship. In the best and worst  of times, sport is intangible, experiential and subjective. Bernard Mullin, Stephen Hardy and William Sutton probably said it best— sports are expressions of our humanity that can’t be bottled like water.

Read more: Sport cannot be bottled like water - Things That Matter column

In 2013 when the vision of ten or more Olympic gold medals by the year 2024 was announced by the Olympic movement, there were those who felt it was unrealistic. However, in 2014,  a sports sentiment survey commissioned by the Olympic Committee (TTOC) found that 76 per cent of the population believes that winning ten Olympic gold medals by 2024 is achievable with proper planning and implementation. 

Read more: Together we can achieve greatness - Things That Matter

After arch rivals South Africa had beaten the New Zeaand rugby team for the third straight time in 2009, New Zealand captain Richie McCaw laid an All Black jersey in front of his men at the Heritage Hotel and said: "There have been some great men who spilt blood for this jersey, made sacrifices. The toughness, ruthlessness, power, pace. The want. That's got to come from within, the inner desire if that's what it takes."

The above quote is an apt summary of what representing your country is about. All sportsmen and women can attest to that deep down emotional resonance. National pride. Sport stakeholders have national pride and commitment in abundance. It’s the power of sport. As we head into the final three weeks of general election campaigning,  many questions are being asked and platform promises are aplenty.

A question that come to mind is: are the political parties mindful that sport stakeholders have a vote? What will be the future like for sport in T&T? Will the cuts and belt tighten have a devastating impact on sport? What are the respective parties’ policy regarding to sport? Under which party and government will sport be better served?

There are pertinent questions that have to be asked by sport stakeholders. If sport is going to be looked at in the usual way then it is going to be a long hard road. Harbour no illusions of grandeur. If sport is to achieve any semblance of sustainable progress, growth and development it requires a quantum leap forward.

Sport stakeholders have a vote and like all citizens sport stakeholders have a stake in determining what T&T will look like post September 7. A fundamental, foundational and radical change in thinking is needed for sport to thrive in the coming years. The reality of falling oil and gas revenues is not an illusion. Sport stakeholders must value their vote.

These days are not the best of times for harried sport administrators,  athletes, coaches and sport clubs, sport fans and supporters and sport club members. Any one with a passion and keen interest in sport in T&T will be failing in their duty, responsibility and obligation if they didnt give serious consideration to the future of sport. 

So much is still needed to be done to develop a sporting culture in T&T. With media houses cutting back on the alloted time and space for sport in the election frenzy, it is very clear that sport is low down on the national value chain. Sport has a vote and that vote should not be taken for granted or underestimated. 

Sport has the power to make a difference in all areas of national life. If, however, sport stakeholders don’t have respect for their collective power then don’t expect anyone else to take sport seriously. Sport in T&T should not allow itself to be designated as insignificant and unimportant. It has been said that you can’t win or lose a general election on the basis of a lack of a sport policy or because you have one.

That may well be so but we are in changing times. Post  September 7, sport will move up the national value chain and be a serious topic on the national agenda. Sport matters. Sport has a vote and sport can and will make a positive difference.

Brian Lewis is the President of the Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee. The views expressed are not necessarily those of the Olympic Committee.  Support #10 Golds24 Athlete Welfare and Preparation Fund make your donations to any branch of Scotiabank account number 171188

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Post Life Sport, what do we need to do to achieve sustainable development of sport, recreation and physical activity? What must we do to make real the aspirations of 10 or more Olympic Gold medals by 2024? How do we promote world class standards in sport? Press re-boot and make structural and systemic changes including mindset and culture?

Read more: Sport more than leisure and pastime - Things That Matter column

The average person will tell you almost anything can be done. There is an old saying; all big ideas meet with opposition and all big things have been accomplished by men and women who stuck to their big idea. Tomorrow, Rio 2016 will celebrate one year to go to the opening ceremony of the first ever Olympic Games in South America.

The Olympics is about setting big goals. Rio and Brazil had a dream to host an Olympic Games. The South American nation hosted the 2007 Pan Am Games as a test of their capabilities. They would have learned some valuable lessons and used those lessons and experiences to inform their winning bid.

In the face of some well-publicised issues including the awful state of the location for sailing, Rio is in a stepped up mode with one year to go. Their ambition to host a successful Olympic Games is upon them. For national Olympic committees one year to go is also an important milestone since there is an intensity and focus that is elevated. The pressure starts to build.

With the increased focus on Rio 2016, sponsors wake up to the opportunity  but in most cases the long-standing partners become very rigorous in ensuring that their rights are activated. One year to go to Rio. The realisation that the big moment is on the horizon. Marketing efforts start to mount.
Rio 2016 one year to go.

Reports suggest that about 500,000 visitors will travel to Rio next year. Airlines will be stretched to the max. Finding accommodation is going to be challenging and with an Olympic premium.  The Rio Olympic Organisers have signed Airbnb. In respect of the commercial use of the Olympic properties there are standards, protection of the value of the Olympic properties.

The use of the Olympic properties must be aligned with the Olympic values. Any use of Olympic properties that is perceived to devalue the Olympic Movement, the Olympic Games, and that detract from the Olympic ideals will not be approved. All rights to the Olympic symbol and other Olympic properties belong exclusively to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and can only be used with the express prior written consent of the IOC.

It is important for the public and corporate T&T to appreciate that the role of partners in promoting the Olympic Movement and the Olympic values must not be underestimated. Olympic partners play a vital role in communicating the Olympic symbol by sponsorship activation not only during the period of the Olympic Games, but 365 days a year.

Everyone associated with the Olympic Games have big ideas and goals. The T&T Olympic Committee and its athletes, coaches, managers and administrators and medical support staff also have high aspirations. One year to go to Rio. One year to go is for some a wake up call, while for others it’s simply another phase in a well structured long term plan.

It is going to be an exciting but challenging 365 days.

Brian Lewis is the president of the T&T Olympic Committee. The views expressed are not necessarily those of the Olympic Committee. Support #10 Golds24 Athlete Welfare and Preparation Fund make your donations to any branch of Scotiabank account number 171188.

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