Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley dedicated a chapter in his book, From Mason Hall to Whitehall, to his dismissal from the Cabinet of the late prime minister Patrick Manning.
The Ministry of Sports and Youth Affairs, through their Communications Manager Shabuka Kambon was quick to allay fears yesterday that Elite’s Athletes Funding for cyclist Njisane Phillips was not forthcoming.
Phillips (Njisane) complained recently about the withholding of Elite’s Athletes Funding (EAF) which athletes receive from government to help prepare for major international tournaments such as the Olympic Games and many others, as well as the need to train at home at the newly built Cycledrome in Balmain Couva. The young cyclist, who has fast made himself renown across the globe following his spate of impressive performances at the 2012 London Olympics, had also expressed major concerns that he did not have a coach presently.
Kambon told the Guardian yesterday that funding will be coming soon for Njisane. “His funding is presently being processed as a matter of urgency right now, so Njisane will have no problem” Kambon said. He added Njisane’s funding as well as monies for a number of other athletes in other sports, are being sorted out now and they will have it in time to prepare for the coming Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
According to the communications boss at the ministry, he understands how Njisane feels about the funding as it is an Olympic year, saying he will contact Phillips soon after the interview to relieve him of any fears. Phillips and other athletes have also been given the assurance that the amount given for the EAF has not be cut or adjusted in spite of the global fall in the prices of oil and gas.
Kambon promised also that other concerns expressed by Phillips about the use of the cycledrome will soon be a thing of the past. “I do not want to say too much about the state and readiness of the cycledrome but what I can tell you is that a lot of progress has been made from since the point when the issue was raised last year and like the elite’s athletes funding, it will be finished and opened soon for all who wants to use it” Kamboon said.
Meanwhile Kambon explained he was pleased to disclose that payments of elite athletes funding to Phillips have been up-to-date. But Phillip Whiteman, Njisane’s step father said it was not.
Whiteman explained, that Njisane has not received EAF from 2013 to most of last year (2015). He Pointed out that: “In 2015 the cyclist received one payment of $100, 000 although Njisane has met the criteria to qualify for the maximum $250, 000. But for the years 2013 and 2014 he got absolutely no funding.”
Asked how much EAF Njisane is supposed to receive, Whiteman said $250, 000. According to the criteria which was set by the ministry of sports, funding is referenced based on athletes ratings internationally, which, when investigated, indicated that athletes earning a rating of 40 and below in their respective sport, would qualify for the maximum amount of $250, 000.
However Njisane who is ranked fourth in the world, has never received that amount, his step father said. “Anytime we receive funding it is always cut by about one-third” Whiteman said.
He said he is grateful for the support of Njisane’s local club Rigtech Sonics which always try to help their member with his preparations. Apart from the local club, Njisane gets financial support from Direct TV, the Sport Company of T&T and products from Blue Waters and Gatorade. Outside of this group of people, Whiteman puts out the bulk of money to ensure that his step-son climbs as close to the top in the of cycling as much as best as he can.
Phillips is currently on the verge of earning a sport at the Olympics in the sprint as he will begin his preparation today at the last Cycling World Cup in Hong Kong. Whiteman said it will take something out of the ordinary for his step-son to not qualify in the sprints now.