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Cricket legend Walsh, Jackson in spotlight

Monday, April 7, 2014
Sports Desk Leadership Conference
Courtney Walsh, former West Indies cricketer.

Some of the world’s most inspirational and influential personalities in sports and beauty will take the spotlight at today’s start of the 15th Annual Sports Desk Leadership Conference to share their ideas and ideals with the nation’s youth.


The four-day meeting of minds takes place at the Cascadia Hotel in St Ann’s, Port-of-Spain and was being held with the backing of title sponsors the Ministry of Sport and energy company Atlantic. Starting time is 9.25am.


An estimated 400 secondary school students, shortlisted from more than 1,000 applicants would engage ambassador Courtney Walsh, former West Indies and International cricket legend, Olympic and world swimming champion George Bovell III, Miss World 1986 Giselle La Ronde-West and Miss Universe 1998 Wendy Fitzwilliam.


The roster of speakers will also include champion swim coach and Sports Minister Anil Roberts, UCI World Cup medallist Njisane Phillip, former T&T cricket captain ambassador Daren Ganga, World Youth swimming champion Shanntol Ince and four-time Olympic and world champion medallist Ato Boldon,


Powerlifter and First Citizen Sport Foundation Sportswoman of the Year 2013 Giselle Ann Jackman, also confirmed her attendance to speak on the topic Mind Games, while world boxing champion Ria Ramnarine, would express thoughts on the subject Beating the Pain Barrier.


Caroline Toni Sirju Ramnarine, vice-president of corporate operations at Atlantic and Camille Salandy, head of sustainability and corporate communications at the energy company would also contribute to the conference focusing their experiences as women in leadership. 


The Sports Desk, a registered non-profit organisation, is the brainchild of T&T Guardian sport editor Valentino Singh.


At the time its conceptualisation Singh was of the view that the Sport Desk could improve the lives of young people and journalists through an association with those in the field of sport.


The symposium started with close to 40 journalists from across the Caribbean, sport administrators and students in a room at T&T Guardian’s head office on St Vincent Street in Port-of-Spain.


It has since evolved.


Last year’s conference was one of revelations. Cricket legend Brian Charles Lara clarified his relationship with his former cricket compatriot Walsh. Boxing champion Ramnarine also used the opportunity to make a similar declaration regarding her ties with the late Jizelle Salandy.


Fielding questions from participants, Lara hailed Walsh as an exceptional leader and role model who became his friend, while Ramnarine made it clear that she and Salandy were friends although there were forces that wanted the public to believe otherwise.


Olympic medallist Marc Burns questioned the poor marketing of accomplished athletes in an effort to fire up those waiting in the development bay with hopes of attaining future sporting accolades, while the sports minister, painstakingly, used the forum to explain why Olympic medallist Keshorn Walcott deserved to be named the First Sports Foundation Sportsman of the Year 2012.


Interview Singh expressed satisfaction about the level of good the programme does for the nation’s youth. He said the excitement on their faces when see, touch and actually engage Ato Boldon, Jehue Gordon and Wendy Fitzwilliam.


Asked about the ability of the Sport Desk to secure partnerships with corporate T&T, Singh said the business community was satisfied with focus, presentation and results of the mentorship programme.


“The Ministry of Sport has been with us ever since. This is Atlantic’s third year. We have a three-year contract with our title sponsors. People are lining up to come and be part of this event. This is not about the Sport Desk. It’s an attempt to try and eliminate some of the negativity that is attached to some of the young people in T&T; and more importantly to show them a formula for success. We have icons who have all achieved something. We have icons who have been down on the ground, who have fallen flat on their faces and have been able to rise and get back to the levels of achievement that we all know they have been able to do,” he said.


Singh added, “These are the kinds of things that corporate T&T loves to see. They love to see young people moving in a positive direction. The programme has grown over the years. More and more children are getting involved. We have to turn back more children every year. This says a lot about the impact that it is having. Any youth could be successful in life. We just have to show them the way. We just have to give them a template, show them the formula. This programme is about finding a recipe. This programme is about finding a recipe for them to go forward into adulthood in a way that is meaningful. Nothing is impossible.”


Supporting sponsors include the ANSA McAL Group, Angostura, the Sport Company of T&T, the T&T Civil Aviation Authority, Toyota, The National Gas Company, The Fan Club, the blink/bmobile Foundation and Petrotrin. 


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