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Outstanding performances in track and field from local athletes at regional and international meets have not earned the sport renewed respect from the local business fraternity says Ken Barton, head coach of Concorde Athletics Club. While these athletes continue to energise this country’s reputation as a dynamic sporting nation–be it at the Olympics, World Championships, the Caribbean and Central American Championships and the Commonwealth Games– the sporting administrator lamented that in the eyes of the corporate community track and field seemed to be a bastard child. Barton said as an administrator he experienced this first hand.
“Funding is very, very difficult; at least for Concorde! You find sponsors (but) they will like to sponsor football clubs. Anything for football they will give. Track and Field is a little more difficult and track and field really needs that.
We have been operating over the years with no sponsor at all and we have been getting by, but that doesn’t mean we don’t need a sponsor. If we have a sponsor, we can attend some games in Florida. Once we get that mechanism going, to go to international meets. Concorde would just soar!” he said.
“We need to draft a letter to the Ministry of Sport to see if we can get some kind of assistance with respect to sending athletes away. We could train here. We have very good coaches here. If we just have some athletes exposed to that international standard–and come home and still participate in the games here–we could be big.” Following discussions with Ashwin Creed, the permanent secretary in the Sports Ministry, Barton said a business plan was being developed by his team for submission to the State agency, outlying the club’s development strategy to reposition Concorde as a progressive 27-year old institution.
In his review of Concorde’s performance in the 2013 season Barton described the performances of his athletes as “quite good”. “From the Carifta Sprint Day, we won three out of the four races which was quite good. Most of the women’s event for the year, we have won.
It’s only (the) national championships when the big athletes came down that we were in the finals, but we didn’t really win. But during the course of the year, our local woman have been tops. My mission has always been to get the athletes to do their best. We have a programme in place for continuous improvement and we have been doing that by and large. Athletes have gotten better; times have improved. I try not to say let us go for this game or that game–the nationals I (am) talking about. We progress right through the year. Having the objectives of the club realised was becoming an ever greater challenge,” said Barton.
“It has been more and more difficult every year. It seems as though the world has been changing. T&T has been changing. The youths have been changing. Years ago, it was much easier to train a young person. Now it is difficult because now they are distracted with all kinds of things: boyfriend, girlfriend, image and peer pressure. So it is always different to keep them on that track. Train, school, come back home?
No! It’s school! It’s pleasure! It’s party! …It is stay home one or two days because we train hard and those things really take away from success.” In a direct response, Barton has turned to the club’s accomplished athletes: John Mark Corey Constantine the male “Athletes of the Year” and Lisa Wickham, Concorde’s top performing athlete.
They have been winning national events and have represented T&T. He said the club’s management hoped top athletes like Constantine, Wickham and Nikita Paul, who was the top girl’s athlete in the Under- 17 category, could serve as beacons for those athletes that have not embraced the concepts of discipline and commitment to training 100 per cent, despite issues related to peer pressure.