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Women power shines brightly in sports

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Over the last few months I have spoken with several women involved in sports in this country. In one way or another some are still involved in their sport, from athlete to official to retirement. Some are mothers, others grandparents, some are single but all tell one story, one tale of hope and perseverance.

In nearly all the cases, against the odds, and despite the male dominated sporting environment, these women have and are still contributing significantly. However, and there is one here, it is clear that the pathway for some is traversed with thorns and itchy fingers. And while many can easily step over with experience the correct support, there will be those in the future that will be deterred and possibly make early exits.

Therefore, as a society intent on reducing abuse of a sexual nature, we must not lose sight of the physiological abuse inflicted on women by men in sports and particuarly by those in authority in sports. This is not only about equal pay and equal opportunity to compete in some male dominated roles, like athletic therapists, physiotherapists, strength and conditioning, but overall a sense of fairness and objectivity.

Nearly all of the ladies who spoke with me were determined to be the best in their respective roles and interestingly, it did not matter which era they fell into or in which timeline they were born. Whether it was the 60’s where parents looked on in doubt when their daughters were heavily involved in sports, at the expense of being a mother, or the 70’s and 80’s where gender changes began in the world to the present, where women compete adequately for any role.

Perhaps—and this is purely my thoughts—it is the simple fact, the black and white fact that men dominate the hierarchy of administration in sports, from the Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee (although Brian Lewis to his credit, has been pioneering the drive for more inclusion of women on this sporting body), to the Ministry of Sports and the Sports Company of Trinidad and Tobago. Many have already stated that some diversity is required going forward, let us hope in this land of ours, where persons find it so easy to talk and talk with no action, that change comes quickly.

As I spoke with each of the women in sports, I sensed one thing though, they would not be denied, they would not be stopped, they were all focused on achieving not only their dreams, but also those of their teammates, their supporting personnel and most of all, this country called Trinidad and Tobago, which they all loved.

As a society it is also important that women in powerful positions need to stand up for one another and understand that even if they may have achieved certain goals, there is still the opportunity to assist others. Even though it is not openly discussed it is true even in sports, where some women may be their own worst enemy.

So, from Dr Patricia Butcher, Asha De Freitas, Cleopatra Borel, Maylee Attin-Johnson, Sharisse Hosein, Senator Melissa Ramkissoon, Mary Sui Butt, Candice Scott, Stephanie Power, Ria Ramnarine, Sarah Coutou, Mariella Martinez, Johanna Coutou, Stacey Ann King, Stacey Sui Butt, Sharon Ferreira, Aleena Edwards, Karen Dieffenthaler, Gabriella Donahue and Shari John, there has been a collection of brilliant women with brilliant and attentive minds, both spiritually and emotionally focused on their job at hand with their respective sports and with their families.

All these women are inspirational and demonstrate a drive to conquer and succeed.

I know that there are many more women in this country, daughters of the soil, that have represented us proudly and with honour, in all spheres of their sporting life, and we must never lose sight of that.


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