National Security Minister Jack Warner, with typical pizzazz, yesterday unveiled his first crime fighting plan with a little help from seven foot one ex-NBA star Shaquille O’Neal.
O’Neal and PM Kamla Persad-Bissessar launched the “Hoops of Life” competition in the Beetham Gardens, which will pay out $1.75 million in prize money and should easily top $2 million when stipends to participating teams and administrative costs are factored. It is meant to encourage star struck youths to leave crime behind and throw their efforts into sport.
It costs the government, according to the Trinidad Guardian, some $10 million to arrange the O’Neal-led project minus “final touches” and it is uncertain whether that includes costs for travel, hotel and other allowances.
Money well spent? Of course!
Wired868 believes that the local youngsters, mesmerized by O’Neal’s charm, would already be gearing up for action and anyone with a criminal record after the tournament’s start becomes ineligible.
If those youth ignore negative influences and marry natural ability with years of sacrifice and more than a dash of fortune, they could yet rise to the top of the local game and earn a living from the sport like Trinidad and Tobago’s national football coaches who are still waiting for salaries promised by the Sport Ministry. Or local Pro League players whose industry is always on the brink of financial collapse.
Maybe they might conquer the Caribbean like Caledonia AIA and still be left frustrated by a government sponsor, NLCB, that allegedly thinks you’re not worth the money promised to you.
Perhaps—and this is a tall order—a Beetham teenager might push Trinidad and Tobago into a senior FIFA World Cup. Then, he or she can spend the next six years in the High Court listening to a Judge beg Warner to pay promised bonuses while your legal fees mount and the PM ignores your letters for intervention.
Even more improbably, an inspired youngster from this tiny twin island republic may climb to the pinnacle of his profession in the world like cricketer Brian Lara or track star Ato Boldon.
And then, like Dwight Yorke, Russell Latapy, Shaka Hislop, Richard Thompson, Kwandwane Browne, Dwayne Bravo and scores of other globally recognised local athletes, he or she will have the opportunity to look on from the outside as the government ignores their efforts and spends millions of taxpayers’ money on a cameo appearance and photo shoot with a foreigner.