The sporting contribution of our athletes locally, regionally and internationally have helped defined T&T 56 years of political Independence and 42 years (August 1st 1976) of Republicanism. Coming out of the throes of colonialism and cast with the responsibility of managing the challenges of economic, political and socio-cultural development, the country's sportsmen and women have constantly offered a beacon of hope and great expectations where our leaders have sometimes been bereft of ideas and bland.
The relatively young twin-island of 1.3 million has produced athletes who have been able to stand tall consistently at age group and senior levels on the regional, hemisphere and global stage. Some of the stellar international performances (not limited) include:
*Hasley Crawford and Keshorn Walcott- Olympic Gold medallists
*Akeem Stewart- World record holder Para Athletics (Shot Putt)
*T&T was crowned joint World Netball Champions with Australia and New Zealand in 1979
*National Men Senior team finalist at FIFA Germany World Cup 2006
*National U20 team finalist at U20 FIFA World Cup, Portugal, 1990
*Claude Noel first world champion, Mexican Rodolfo Gonzalez to win the WBA World Lightweight title,1981
*Leslie Stewart won the WBA World Light Heavyweight title in 1987 defeating Marvin 'pops' Johnson
*Ria Ramnarine T&T first female world champion, defeated Ana Fernandez to win the WIBA Mini Flyweight World title, 2005
*Giselle Salandy multiple World champion- WBA, WBC and WIBA middleweight titles
*Brian Lara world record holder for the highest first-class score (501 not out) and highest test score (400 not out).
*T&T Men's Indoor hockey team- World Cup finalist, Germany, 2018
*T&T Women's Volleyball team finalist at FIVB World Championship, Japan 2018
To provide support the state over the years have ramped-up the delivery of sporting facilities throughout the country as well as developing two-sport policies- 2002 and 2017-2027. The implementation of the national sports reward policy scheduled for September 12 is a landmark accomplishment to acknowledge sporting accomplishments in an organised manner. Time and evidence will be the judge of how well the other aspects of the 2017-2027 sports policy is achieved.
Additionally, the development of a sports tourism policy is urgently required to provide a basis upon which sporting facilities especially the aquatic centre, cycling velodrome and racquet centre can be converted into generating its own revenue.
Off the field, issues of good governance interwoven into a power struggle are casting a huge shadow of uncertainty about a strategic development path for two of the major sporting disciplines in the country- cricket and football. If these fires are not appropriately extinguished it can regrettably spread to other sporting disciplines.
So there is a lot to celebrate in the country's short sporting history (Independence/Republicanism), however, there is a lot more to be done at the governance level- state and national governing bodies- to ensure that the sportsmen and women of today and tomorrow will have the right environment to improve on the stellar performances of their predecessors.
"I don't feel it is necessary to know exactly what I am. The main interest in life and work is to become someone else that you were not in the beginning." Michel Foucault
Dr. Anand Rampersad