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Reports of a decline in the level of female participation across various sporting disciplines in T&T, over the past five years, is a major cause of concern for Annette Knott, secretary general of the T&T Olympic Committee (TTOC).
The TTOC official expressed fears that such a negative trend could severely affect the progress this country has made on the field of play.
“My fear is that the numbers are dropping for girls and women in sports. And if anything, we would need to embark on a drive through the Olympic Committee and through national federations for women in sports. How do we increase participation, love and passion for the sports that we have had as women, when we were younger?
“We have one or two young, brilliant sporting women, but if you went to every national sporting organisation and you asked what were the numbers five years ago, I think the majority would tell you that there’s a decline in the number of girls participating. We need to examine that and find out how we can get our young women back on the field of play,” Knott said.
But Knott was not alone in her assessment of this worrying development.
Ephraim Serrette, president of the National Association of Athletic Administrations (NAAA) said the present decline in female athletes was nothing short of a national crisis. It was for that reason, he said, that the NAAA established a women’s committee that was focused on educating—by way of seminars—and recruiting girls in sport.
It has emerged that the T&T Tennis Federation was also wrangling with a similar situation. Kendall Cuffy, president of the Federation took no comfort in the fact female participation in the sport was dwindling.
There exists, he said, a huge gap in the girl’s 15-16 age group. A key focus of the Federation’s development plan, therefore, was to recruit female athletes for the long-term growth of this sport.
While Gary Morales, secretary of the Amateur Swimming Association of T&T and Rowena Williams, president of the Cycling Federation of T&T both reported a balance in participation among male and female athletes in their respective disciplines, Leslie Figaro, president of the Rugby Football Union was comforted by the upsurge in female participation in his sport. He said this was quite the reverse citing that many parents do not want their sons to play this sport for fear on injury.
“My figures are increasing. Girls, women are taking more to the sport than boys. Girls love the sport. They love that element of contact. That’s why our national women teams are doing so well,” he said.
In the case of canoeing and kayaking the figures were said to be average according to association president Meryl See Tai.