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Is T&T’s Carnival mentality a curse or a blessing?

Published: 
Tuesday, May 20, 2014
Things that Matter
Hurdler Jehue Gordon, left, greets Lance Walker, MJP’s global performance director.

During the bpTT/Michael Johnson Performance (MJP)/Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee (TTOC) high performance workshop held last week at Olympic House. Lance Walker, MJP’s global performance director of MJP expressed the point of view that the much talked about T&T carnival mentality is a blessing that can be used to drive, develop and maintain a high performance culture and mind set. 

 

As set out in the Olympic Charter one of the many roles of the TTOC is to encourage the development of high performance sport as well as sport for all- as such High performance is a priority for the TTOC and significant effort and investment has been made to develop the TTOC High performance programme.

 

Whenever a discussion is taking place in respect of high performance sport there are many views and opinions about the status of high performance sport in T&T.

 

At last week’s workshop, which was attended by 30 coaches all of whom were involved in some form or fashion with the high performance end of local sport, there was in-depth discussion around the question of is there a high performance culture and mind-set within national sport organisations?

 

There is an obvious need for ongoing attention. Most of the coaches present felt they still had much learning to undergo. 

 

The onus is on the TTOC to live up to its role and mandate and encourage the development of high performance sport.

 

Moving off the high performance topic there are some disturbing trends developing in the world of sport especially around major sport events.

 

Sport around the world is facing serious and potentially damaging risks to the credibility and integrity of sport. 

 

This increasing risk is further exacerbated by the failure of sport leaders to come to grips with the reality and balance that is needed when sport is used as a political tool. 

 

The old rhetoric that sport and politics shouldn’t mix is just that old. Sport is now perceived as an important political tool and driver of policy.

 

Many world sport leaders openly court governments and politicians and even though the IOC and FIFA to name two international sport governing bodies have within their statues rules that appear to protect the autonomy of sport. 

 

In recent years there has been an exponential growth in the public and political profile of sport. An expanded social agenda has seen the use of sport as a tool to address social inequality, crime and conflict. 

 

The power of sport to make a positive difference and the relevance of the values of sport has been shown to have a significant and transformative impact. The social agenda and the perceived legacy benefits encourage major cities and countries to invest not just funding but emotion and policy objectives. 

 

But it has come at a price that sport leaders worldwide don’t seem to have considered or contemplated.

 

Cue Brazil and the fraught build up to the FIFA World Cup. The IOC has cause for serious concern in respect of Rio 2016.

 

Trinidad and Tobago sport leaders are well advised to take heed—when your neighbour house on fire wet yours.

 

When facilitating the use of sport as a political tool sport leaders must be mindful that motives and values aren’t always shared or common. Is sport the means or the end?

 

There are consequences for those who fail to ensure that the best interest of their sport is the priority. It is important that there be a strategy and a risk management process in place.

 

 

Brian Lewis is the President of the TTOC. The views expressed may not necessarily be those of the TTOC.