On Wednesday, March 9th the Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee hosted its first Sports Marketing and Business of Sport Conference under the theme "Towards Economic Growth and Diversification - Trinidad and Tobago Sport Rising to the Challenge at the Hyatt. In delivering welcome remarks to sports stakeholders including entrepreneurs, athletes, executives of National Sport Organizations (NSOs) and members of the business community, Brian Lewis,
President of the TTOC stressed that there was a "need to stop depending on state financing. There is a big wide world out there that we need to tap into." Lewis in introducing Ephraim Serrette, President of the National Association of Athletic Administrations Trinidad and Tobago (NAAA) said that the conference aimed to answer the question, "how do we make sport in Trinidad attractive to investors."
Serrette focused his address on the local sport industry and Policy in Trinidad and Tobago, saying, "in Trinidad we tend to just look at the social aspect of sport, we don't look at the economic aspect." The Global Sport Industry however is worth an estimated $500-600 billion USD, which is approximately 1.5% of Global GDP. In highlighting some of the key challenges facing Trinidad and Tobago in developing a sport industry, Serrette stressed the lack of data which hampers the ability of sports administrators to make effective decisions and accurately measure the output of our investments in sport. He lamented that there was at this time no data to measure the contribution of sport to Trinidad and Tobago.
Serrette was followed by Kevin Roberts, Founding Editor of Sports Business International who delivered a captivating keynote address highlighting the value of the Global Sports Industry and key trends including polarization, intense completion to host events, the increased globalization of domestic sports, how a lack of market mass can hinder growth and poor standards of governance and professionalism. Roberts indicated that the challenge facing sport stakeholders in Trinidad was converting sport from simply "a love thing to a business thing."
Minister of Sport and Youth Affairs, the Honourable Darryl Smith closed off the morning session highlighting the steps the Government was taking to improve Sport Administration in Trinidad and Tobago. These include the development of a data analysis unit at the Ministry of Sport to assist in the collection of data, making it easier for citizens to donate directly to sports and or athletes, the establishment of proper maintenance schedules for new sporting facilities and the use of technology to help Non Governmental Organizations work with the Ministry of Sport to access both funds and facilities.
Other topics highlighted throughout the day included the business of sport investment and strategies for financing sports along with legal protection. National athlete and former World Champion, Jehue Gordon was also in attendance.