TEN JUNIOR track and field athletes will be the first group to benefit from the Scotiabank/National Association of Athletics Administrations (NAAA) Deon Lendore Bursary programme, which is geared towards helping athletes achieve their potential in both sports and academics.
Lendore, one of TT's most promising athletes, died in a car accident in January in Texas, United States. He was 29.
Each athlete will receive $10,000 annually, which will be paid in four quarterly tranches.
Five girls and five boys will benefit from the programme.
The girls are Jenna Marie Thomas of IG Fast Lane and Holy Faith Convent, Keneisha Shelbourne (Oasis Athletic/ASJA Girls College), Natalia Eastman (RSS Phoenix/Scarborough Secondary), Rasheeda Cave (RSS Phoenix/Roxborough Secondary) and Kadija Pickering (Abilene Wildcats/St Francois Girls College).
The boys are Mahkaya Mahon (Oasics/St Anthony's College), Keone John (Memphis Pioneers/St Anthony's), Kyle Williams (Burnley AC/Trinity College East), Jaden De Souza (Phoenix AC/University of TT) and Omare Thompson (Plus One A Week/Diego Martin North Secondary).
On Saturday, at the launch of the programme at the Hilton Hotel in St Clair, president of the NAAA George Comissiong, said, "The programme is intended to provide support to ten junior athletes who show potential for greatness. It is intended to provide socio-economic support to help mitigate challenges that they may face to give them that little extra that may be needed so that they can realise their true potential."
The athletes will be educated on money management and financial independence.
Comissiong said NAAA's uniform sponsor Puma has committed to providing training wear and "possibly additional funding."
The programme will ask the athletes to be all-round students.
The athletes are encouraged to maintain an academic standard no lower than that of their most recent school report, maintain at least 80 per cent attendance at school, maintain at least 80 per cent attendance at training and maintain a performance standard no lower than their personal best over the 2023 season.
Comissiong thanked Scotiabank for their commitment.
"I must give credit to Scotiabank Foundation for partnering with us on this programme," Comissiong said.
Scotiabank Foundation director Peter Ghany said providing an avenue for youngsters to progress is part of the foundation's aim.
"Through the Scotiabank Foundation we continue to support the young people of TT and I am especially proud that we've been able to join forces with the association to help our athletes succeed," Ghany said.
Lendore's mother Crispina Edmund attended the launch.
Both Ghany and Comissiong acknowledged Edmund.
Edmund described her son as a "true patriot."
"It would have been truly an honour for him to be here, but God had other plans," she said.
Edmund urged the athletes to be confident, believe in God and never lose hope.
NAAA director and former World 400-metre hurdles champ Jehue Gordon also encouraged the athletes to give their best.