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For the love of sport

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

There is a cadre of hardworking people who put their heart and soul into the development of young people through sport every single day of life. They do it purely for the love of sport. They are living their passion. These volunteers are not always sure the decision makers and those with access to the resources appreciate their tireless and unwavering efforts and sincerity. All these tireless soldiers want is a simple acknowledgement—a thank you but instead they feel unwanted and disrespected. National sport organisations (NSOs) cannot afford to be disconnected from the cadre of volunteers who make a positive difference on a daily basis. The sport infrastructure will collapse without volunteers. The power of sport to effect change is most evident at the grassroots level where people come together to explore the use of sport as a catalyst for social change. Over the years sport has shown that it can have a positive impact.


Encouraging those who contribute to keep doing so is not as challenging as some may make it out to be. All that is required is respect for the commitment, dedication and passion of those who give to sport out of an abundance of love. The simple belief that sport can make a positive difference and that together we can achieve remarkable things is the motivation for hundreds of volunteers. That the issues may be more complex in no way diminishes their contribution. As Mark Twain once said; “great people are those who make others feel that they too can become great. “How many lives have the tireless and unwavering foot soldiers—the volunteers changed for the better? On any given day look around the playing fields and empty spaces and you will see someone dedicated to using sport to make a positive difference. These individuals use sport to communicate simple life values and to motivate and inspire youths from different backgrounds. Some do so individually while others are very involved in sport and community clubs. As we come to the end of 2013 here in T&T, December is not usually the most active-sporting wise. 


It’s an appropriate period to take a step back and reflect. Sport locally and globally is at a cross roads. A lot of change is coming. To keep pace both the TTOC and NSOs have to innovate and evolve if they want to engage young people in sport as active participants. The same can be said about the IOC. Another challenge is finding the delicate balance between working with government while maintaining a necessary level of independence and autonomy. No challenge is big enough. How do we advocate the positive values that sport can instil in young people and protect the integrity of sport?  How can NSOs and the TTOC promote positive messages about sport and its character building potential, integrity and honesty given the powerful temptations facing almost everyone involved in sport?  How can NSOs build equity and value in their brands and assets? By responding to the contemporary realities none of the challenges are insurmountable on the contrary there are opportunities aplenty for those sport organisations that can market themselves differently, more effectively and creatively.  It requires creative destruction—a reinvention and a transformation while at the same time remaining true to the core values, and acknowledging the role of the volunteers in an era of professionalisation. The potential is enormous for those NSOs who are willing to push the envelope and redefine how they act, think and behave. The future is bright indeed. Sport matters, integrity matters, people matter and the youth matter.



Brian Lewis is the president of the Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee. The views expressed are not necessarily those of the TTOC. For more information about the IOC, TTOC and Olympism visit


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