The honourable Shamfa Cudjoe delivers remarks at the opening of the NGB Office Space
Ribbon Cutting and Official Opening of the National Governing Bodies (NGBs) Office Space
National Cycling Velodrome
The Honourable Shamfa Cudjoe, MP
Minister of Sport and Community Development
Mr. Jason Williams, CEO, the Sport Company of Trinidad and Tobago Limited (SporTT)
Mr. Patrice Charles- George, Director of Sports, Ministry of Sport and Community Development
Mr Justin Latapy-George, Head of the Sport Development Unit (SDU), SporTT
Other members of staff of SporTT and the Ministry of Sport and Community Development
Mr. Dexter Voisin, Secretary General of the NAAA
Other representatives of national sporting bodies
Members of the media,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is indeed a pleasure to be here this afternoon to deliver these very brief remarks as we open this room which I think can safely be called the NGB room. This is a space that is dedicated specially to the business of our National Governing Bodies. Sports will play a more central, prominent and profound role in our economic diversification. Our National Governing Bodies will play a stronger and more effective role in ensuring that sport is front and centre in our development. We must do all that we can do; and this means putting your house in order, to contribute to the development of our economy.
Your purpose or role as NGBs is to strengthen or increase sports. Even though the actual playing of sports has been decreased with not much activity taking place, there is still much to be done, and there is no better time for NGBs, Government and stakeholders to utilize this time to improve the rules of play; to improve the state of play as it relates to sports; and to examine our own rules and regulations for culture or practices as it relates to scoring; succession planning; your handling and management of your books; how you administer the business of your different governing bodies; and seeking to develop capacity in your NGBs, sporting communities, and stakeholders at the community and school level.
I think now is that time for us to do this, so that when we actually get out there to play we are ready to do so.
The Government of Trinidad and Tobago remains committed to providing that necessary support to the sporting fraternity, especially the national governing bodies. Over the years we have provided office spaces for different sporting bodies from hockey, to badminton, to lawn tennis, to aquatics and cycling through Sport TT. I want to commend Sport TT for the incredible job that they have been doing with limited resources. They ‘bend and flex’ and make a dollar out of fifty cents in trying to cater to the needs of the sporting fraternity.
We have spent over the last five years at least 131 million in funding to the national governing bodies. We are going to continue to provide that support to the NGBs, especially those who are serious about their business, to ensure that you run your business effectively, and that we are able to continue to be there with you. This pandemic calls on everybody; state entities, the private sector, sporting bodies to do what we haven’t done before and to adapt to this new virtual world, this new way of doing things, of doing business. Some of our NGBs and other bodies do not even have a social media presence. So it now calls upon us to organize ourselves to be present virtually. Because in this day and age if you are not present virtually, you don’t know how to operate in this virtual world, it’s almost as though you do not exist. Therefore we are calling on the NGBs to get your house in order, to make good use of this space, to meet and make good use of the resources provided through this facility. Please utilize all that we have to offer from Sport TT and the Ministry of Sport and Community Development. We must utilize this time to truly maximize the full potential of sport. I think it is so timely that the Prime Ministry had decided to merge sport with community development. We didn’t foresee the covid 19 situation and we were getting ready to close the previous fiscal year, and as early as last September we have been working with Sport TT to develop a stronger community sport programme so it is very timely that now we have to move forward more boldly, more profoundly and actually get it done. There is no better way for us to get it done by partnering with Ministry of Community Development which already has a very robust structure and has a presence throughout the nine districts in Trinidad, in addition to the Tobago House of Assembly.
So this time is our time to utilize our resources , use all that we have to piggyback on all that exists in the communities and really take sport to the different areas of Trinidad and Tobago. We must improve our infrastructure, promote total participation in sport, get women on board, get people in rural communities and people with disabilities on board. We must work now so that when we can really go out and play, it is a more delightful and enjoyable experience. We must truly advance the business of sport and even get a bit more savvy with it. We must have serious conversations now. It’s not just about recreation. It’s about making a conscious decision and a conscious investment . So I am pleased that the Government of Trinidad and Tobago has decided to increase the stakes in encouraging corporate T&T to get involved, and present the opportunity for sporting entities to improve their profile. By doing this, you are not just attracting government funds or the tax payer dollar, but you can also partner with corporate T&T so you have to be serious about your business .
You must be willing to come on board and be that support because we all have to come out of Covid 19 stronger and present to the sporting fraternity in all of Trinidad and Tobago a better and brighter future. We would have been fresh out of hosting the CPL and we would have done so very well. When people are looking on and thought that Trinidad and Tobago could not pull this off, we did. We did so very successfully. So we look forward to continuing to set that example and to be seen as a host country among current sporting entities, and to encourage our international brothers and sisters that this is the place to play. This is the place to host your games. So we are going to be looking at improving your infrastructure and finding that necessary support.
We continue to look forward to hosting the Commonwealth Youth Games in 2023 and we are working with TTOC to do this. So the future is bright for sport, even with a smaller allocation. Everybody got a smaller allocation because it is a smaller pie. But we are going to make the very best out of piece of the pie and make the necessary investment in sport. We are asking for the NGBs to come on board and lets play our role and do our part in building the future for athletes, for managers and the entire sporting fraternity in all of Trinidad and Tobago. I am depending on us to make our contribution to sports development. So ladies and gentlemen, members of the media, I thank you and look forward to working with you throughout our communities, to really maximize our potential in sport for the fiscal year 2020-2021. I thank you.