media_artricles :: 2017
Sports Ministry unhappy with athletes’ criticismNewsday :: 04.02.2017
THE MINISTRY of Sport and Youth Affairs has responded to the criticism it has been receiving over the past week, concerning national elite athlete funding.
After the Trinidad and Tobago men's 4x100-metre 2008 Beijing Olympic relay team learned that they will be upgraded to gold, there has been criticism from national athletes with regards to elite funding and the availability of Sports Minister Darryl Smith to address their concerns.
Richard Thompson and Emmanuel Callender, two members of the 2008 relay team, both stated their displeasure with funding issues facing national athletes in recent years.
Thompson reminded the Government to remember its promise of retroactive compensation for their upgraded 2012 London Olympics silver medals following the disqualification of second- placed USA for a doping violation.
He also hit out at the red tape athletes are forced to deal with to access funding.
In a press release yesterday, the Ministry of Sport and Youth Affairs responded by saying, "The Ministry finds it regrettable that some athletes have decided to take to social media to air their concerns, instead of seeking more details about how they can ensure compliance with the process to access elite funding, which has not changed since its inception.
"Further, with the drafting and consultations for the National Sport Policy ongoing, the concept of elite funding and reward for athletic achievement will be included so as to formalise the Government's philosophy and approach to sporting excellence and to high performance sport." The National Sport Policy will alleviate any doubt in the minds of athletes when they achieve success, as the sport policy is expected to clearly state how athletes will be rewarded.
The release further stated that the success of TT 's athletes was part of the reason the Eilte Athlete Assistance Policy was implemented.
"The Ministry of Sport and Youth Affairs wishes to inform the public that Trinidad and Tobago's success at the international level, particularly in track and field, was one of the motivations behind the Elite Athlete Assistance Policy (EAAP) in 2006.
The Cabinet-approved Policy led to a formal mechanism, using a tiered system, to contribute to the preparation and continued improvement of the country's multisport games medallists and world-ranked athletes.
The applications of teams and of athletes in non-Olympic sports are considered on a case-by-case basis to ensure that the financial support is available to a wide range of athletes who meet the criteria and have the potential to attain world-ranking or other benchmarks in their sport.
There are currently 33 athletes in eight disciplines on the EAAP roster, who have received funding for the last fiscal year 2015/16.
"The Policy clearly states that the payment of grants are subject to the availability of funds in any given year.
Despite this and other prevailing constraints, however, for the quadrennial period 2012-2016, the Ministry has disbursed in excess of TT $24 million to athletes and teams in 13 disciplines.
Predictably, and given the large number of elite athletes, track and field received 73% of that sum, followed by cycling (8.1%) and swimming (7.7%). Additionally, the Ministry also contributed TT $996,950.00 to the Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee's Olympic Preparation Fund in 2016 which supported a pre-Olympic Camp.
"Also in 2016, the Ministry's implementation arm, the Sports Company of Trinidad and Tobago assisted 11 Olympians in seven sports with direct reimbursement or payment of expenses (travel, accommodation, medical, coaching) to a total of just over TT $600,000.
This does not include a range of free services which has been accessed by 135 plus athletes during 2015-16, such as psychology, nutrition, gym access, massage therapy and recovery, through its Elite Development and Performance Unit (EDPU).
"Some of the notable athletes on the programme for the period 2012-2016, were Keshorn Walcott, Cleopatra Borel, Andrew Lewis, Thompson, Njisane Phillip and Nyoshia Cain."