Brian Lewis, President of the T&T Olympic Committee (TTOC) deserves commendation for his visibly proactive effort to lay a solid foundation for T&T elite athletes to win at least 10 gold medals by the 2024 Summer Olympics through the Athlete Welfare and Preparation initiative.
Any unbiased observer will quickly acknowledge that Lewis is discharging his responsibilities with passion, optimism and practicality.
He is clear about what he would like to achieve, is passionately optimistic and is making every effort to ensure that these goals are attainable.
The success of modern day sports is dependent upon a number of primary and secondary stakeholders. The primary stakeholders are the athletes who through their respective skills and talent perform outstanding feats to the satisfaction of supporters, sponsors and everyone else who appreciate the value of outstanding performances.
However, it is important to appreciate that the success of athletes is connected to the organizational and managerial skills of sporting administrators. This may be more so in developing countries where economic resources and other infrastructural requirements may be lacking.
Behind the public scenes administrators work assiduously to ensure that all the relevant resources and opportunities are available so that elite athletes can train without undue non-training issues.
Administrators are responsible for the development and implementation strategic plans that will ensure continuous improvement of programmes to achieve clearly identifiable goals.
These plans are not only about the athletes but also the requisite human resource support.
This is required to ensure that athletes are provided with the current scientific training that is available so that they can compete internationally on an equal footing.
The TTOC Athlete Welfare and Preparation initiative is a manifestation of the importance of a dynamic and proactive sports administrator. Achieving 10 gold medals or more will be a costly activity as potential Olympians have to be exposed to the best training and other resources available.
Therefore, instead of sitting back and awaiting for the state to dole out funds, Lewis and the TTOC have embarked upon creatively proactive strategies to raise funds.
Lewis’ appeal has been to both corporate T&T and the general public for sponsorship.
To raise awareness and to personally market the goal of the TTOC he put his body through the grueling demands of walking the 26.2 miles T&T marathon last Sunday from Freeport junction to the Queen’s Park Savannah.
It was a clear demonstration of leading from the front. The goal of this venture was to raise $500 000.
His feat was well supported by family, friends and members of the sporting fraternity.
At the end of the walk he reflected on the wide ranging support he received by stating “I am glad it (the walk) resonated so deeply with the public and it just goes to show there are still wonderful and tremendous people in this country who want to see the country progress.”
Lewis’s effort has immediately had an impact as the country’s first Olympic gold medalist, Hasely Crawford.
Crawford has pledged his support by offering for lease his gold medal and full outfit he wore when he defeated Donald Quarrie (Jamaica) silver medal and Valeriy Borzov (Russia) bronze medal to win 100 metres in 10.06 seconds at the Montreal Games. Crawford reiterated that winning an Olympic gold medal is no easy feat and hence the importance of providing support to young athletes in order for them to realise their goals.
Corporate T&T have also responded positively. The Guardian Group have donated $250,000 and other sponsors have been Columbus Communications, Deloitte & Touche and Southern Sales, Toyota. These gestures may be the cue for other corporate entities to follow.
The TTOC is also appealing to corporate T&T to provide internship, mentorship and work opportunities for elite athletes. This strategy will help provide the athletes with an important living comfort which will allow them to train freely without the burden of having to search for financial support.
Lewis has also used his weekly Guardian column to articulate his ideas about the administration of sports and also the importance of sports as a means of building the social and economic capital of the country. There are important lessons for administrators of other sporting administrators to follow.
There is an indeterminacy about sports so success is not guaranteed. There will be constructive critics and there will be the outright naysayers. The latter is an unfortunate feature of our culture- crab in barrel syndrome- some bask in failures or shortcomings of others. However, one cannot fault Lewis and the TTOC for making a concerted effort to achieve their goals of #10golds24 Athlete Welfare and Preparation Fund.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Donations to #10golds24 Athlete Welfare and Preparation Fund can be made at any Scotia Bank Branch the TTOC Account number is 171188 or by cheque made payable to TTOC which can be dropped off or posted to TTOC Olympic House 121 Abercromby Street, Port of Spain, Trinidad.