PROVIDING A local based platform where Tobago track and field athletes can develop to compete on the world stage without having to attend an overseas university, is the vision of Kyle Joseph, the founder and head coach of the Tobago Select Sports Academy.
Joseph's passion as a track and field coach may surprise many as he was recognised for his goalkeeping skills and subsequently an assistant coach role at St Clair Coaching School.
While at St Clair Coaching School, Joseph also attained a football scholarship to attend the Kansas City Community college in the United States.
Tobago Select Sports Academy, which has close ties with the Pentecostal Light and Life Secondary School where Joseph was the football coach, actually started as a football club in 2012.
Recognising his success with the school's football team during the 2018 season, Joseph was asked by the physical education teacher to transfer his coaching ability to the school's track and field programme.
While Joseph said it was a tough decision to consider, he took up the challenge as he was frustrated with the numerous problems in the football fraternity at that time.
With his academy making a complete switch to athletics, Joseph experienced immediate success the following year for his organisation at the Pentecostal Light and Life Secondary School.
Tobago Select athletes, headlined by N' Kosi Toney and Arlette Olivierre, enjoyed numerous successes in the middle to long distance events during the 2019 cross country and track and field season.
The high point for Tobago Select during the 2019 season was the selection of both Ryan Campbell and Veyon Joseph on the national team for the Carifta Games held in the Cayman Islands.
Campbell formed part of the national quartet which captured a silver medal in the boys Under-17 4x400-metre relay while Joseph earned bronze in the boys Under-17 javelin and subsequently received a scholarship to attend the Jamaica College in Jamaica.
With the 2020 track and field season shortened due to the covid19 pandemic, Tobago Select proved to their critics that they could also roll out champions in the sprint events.
Elijah Irvine did the golden double in the boys Under-20 100 and 200 metres sprints at the National Secondary Schools Track and Field Championships which was held at the Dwight Yorke Stadium in Bacolet, while Xiah Tobias, who is already touted as a future star, captured the girls Under-11 100 and 200 metres titles at the Tobago Primary Schools Track and Field Championships.
Among the Tobago athletic clubs, Tobago Select Sports Academy earned the most invitations from the National Association of Athletics Administration (NAAA) to participate in the National Olympic Trials, based on performances in the current season.
Hurdler Shanika Belfon, quarter-milers Roshane Symister and Callis Mc Letchie, along with long-distance runner Arlette Olivierre will aim for 2020 Tokyo Olympics selection at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, Mucurapo on Sunday.
While he expressed his dissatisfaction with the current leadership of the Tobago athletic committee, Joseph indicated that he would like to see the Dwight Yorke Stadium made available for training as it puts the Tobago athletes at a disadvantage against their Trinidad peers who have use of their stadiums for training, even during the current pandemic.
Joseph who is the holder of a degree in sports medicine from the Clayton State University in the United States, credits as his mentors Bertille St Clair for the discipline and professionalism he learnt while being a member of St Clair Coaching School, and Ashworth Creed, coach of the Rebirth Athletic club in Trinidad.
Joseph further emphasised that, while he is engaged in full-time livestock farming, he is motivated to help young persons because he understands the value of being given an opportunity.
He also intends to structure his sports academy to re-introduce football and initiate a netball programme when the pandemic is minimised.