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Hockey triumph is inadequate cover for Sport dopes

The Trinidad and Tobago national men’s hockey team returned home this morning with bronze medals draped around their necks. No big deal really. It was only the first Pan American medal for a men’s national hockey team in 46 years.

Photo: The Trinidad and Tobago national men's hockey team show off their medals at the Piarco International Airport. (Courtesy Ayesha Cowie-Ayoung)
Photo: The Trinidad and Tobago national men’s hockey team show off their medals at the Piarco International Airport.

Sport Minister Anil Roberts, Permanent Secretary Ashwin Creed and the rest of the Ministry of Sport were conspicuous by their absence. Yet, Roberts’ snub was probably fitting.

The Sport Ministry was so late in providing funding for the team’s trip to Canada that only half the team got to Toronto in time. It took an extraordinarily generous gesture by the International Hockey Federation (IHF), which postponed Trinidad and Tobago’s first match by two days, to allow the “Calypso Stickmen” to compete at all.

The Stickmen took full advantage by storming into the 2013 Pan American Cup semi-finals and eventually bettered the United States 3-1 to take bronze. England-based star Kwandwane Browne was adjudged the tournament’s MVP—a fantastic feat considering that Argentina, ranked 10th in the world, took gold—while diminutive attacker Akim Toussaint also made the Pan American Cup’s all-star team.

The 35-year-old Browne is hockey’s answer to Brian Lara. He made his international debut at 14, played professional in Holland and England, represented his country in 287 games and, at just 22, was named among Trinidad and Tobago’s best athletes of the last millennium.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago star Kwan Browne (centre) glides through the Canada defence. (Courtesy Panamhockey.org)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago star Kwan Browne (centre) glides through the Canada defence.
(Courtesy Panamhockey.org)

But the Sport Minister was too busy to show up at the Piarco International Airport to say “well done” to Browne, team captain Darren Cowie and the rest of the squad for not only distinguishing themselves among the best hockey nations in this hemisphere but also rising above the ineptness of his Ministry.

Trinidad and Tobago’s last senior Pan American field hockey medal came in 1967 although the Pan American Cup is a new competition and serves as a qualifier for the Pan American Games. The junior women’s team also medalled at the 1992 Pan American Games.

Presumably, Roberts’ mind was on more personal matters. The Ministry of Sport and Sports Company stated this morning, via a press release, that national swimmer George Bovell III will receive a VIP welcome tomorrow evening for bronze at the recently concluded FINA World Championship.

Roberts, who happens to be Bovell’s coach, and Creed have already confirmed their attendance for that homecoming and subsequent press conference at the HYATT Hotel.

Mr Live Wire wishes to congratulate Bovell, who is Trinidad and Tobago’s most successful swimmer. It must be nice to have the Sport Minister on your staff though. Finger food, speeches and back rubs for your accomplishments are only the start; even better is avoiding the aggravation that the nation’s other sportsmen have put up with it since being burdened with an uncouth, radio talk show host as Minister.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago swim star George Bovell III continues to deliver in the pool. If only all local athletes did not have to worry about funding and respect from the Sport Ministry.
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago swim star George Bovell III continues to deliver in the pool.
If only all local athletes did not have to worry about funding and respect from the Sport Ministry.

Jehue Gordon, the new 400-metre hurdle champion, often could not find an appropriate training venue this year as the Hasely Crawford Stadium was down for repairs; ditto the Dwight Yorke, Larry Gomes and Mannie Ramjohn stadia.

The senior “Soca Warriors”, who got to the 2013 Gold Cup quarterfinals, almost withdrew from the tournament because Creed thought they were abysmal. And Roberts, who spent $382,000 on Nick Minaj in 2010, refused to wire a cent to the Warriors during the Caribbean Cup qualifiers when they were stranded by a tropical storm in St Kitts and Nevis without money for food or accommodation.

While Roberts travels first class to see Bovell swim, the Soca Warriors were forced to sleep in a Finnish airport en route from international duty in May and the national football coaches are still unpaid this year.

Photo: An unpaid Trinidad and Tobago technical staff member revels in the working conditions during the team's European tour.
Photo: An unpaid Trinidad and Tobago technical staff member revels in the working conditions during the team’s European tour.

Last week, Roberts again showed his appreciation for the country’s most popular sport as late funding from the Sport Ministry meant that the Trinidad and Tobago under-15 team became the first national football side in our history to forfeit a CONCACAF competition.

And, while work continues on the $193 million George Bovell III Aquatic Centre in Couva, the National Hockey Centre in Tacarigua has become so dangerous that at least two clubs refused to finish their fixtures this season out of fear for its players’ safety on the mossy surface.

Roberts has been vocal about drugs in sport recently after local sprinters Kelly-Ann Baptiste and Semoy Hackett left the Moscow 2013 World Championships in disgrace following failed drug tests.

There should certainly be no place for drugs on the field of sport. But the events of the last three years suggest that testing is urgently needed in administration too.

Photo: Sport Minister Anil Roberts has bullied Trinidad and Tobago's sporting bodies for the past three years.
Photo: Sport Minister Anil Roberts has bullied Trinidad and Tobago’s sporting bodies for the past three years.

The two dopes who are positively destroying the self-esteem of Trinidad and Tobago sport are not Baptiste and Hackett; but the Sport Minister and his mini-me Permanent Secretary. Our athletes deserve better than this.

 

Editor’s Note: The Sport Company of Trinidad and Tobago (SPORTT) threw a celebratory function for the Trinidad and Tobago national men’s hockey team after this article was published. Sport Minister Anil Roberts did not attend.

And another thing; what about the Auditor General’s report which lambasted the behaviour of the Sport Ministry and its failure to account for taxpayers’ money?

Click here to read more about the farce and why the Wired868 editor has called for Anil Roberts’ resignation.

AboutLasana Liburd

Lasana Liburd
Lasana Liburd is the CEO and Editor at Wired868.com and a journalist with over 20 years experience at several Trinidad and Tobago and international publications including Play the Game, World Soccer, UK Guardian and the Trinidad Express.

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12 comments

  1. Even more astonishing/deplorable for the hockey men and women who trained on the now very dangerous artificial turf was the fact that the poor conditions at the National Hockey Centre could have been remedied with the purchase of a (one time cost) TT$80,000 machine. Instead the artificial turf is power-washed (usually for the Windball Cricket League) at an annual cost – you guessed it TT$80,000. The powerwashing does little but shift the dirt around, and falls/injuries are now common place because of the very bad state of the surface.
    King Austins “Progress” begs the real question. ‘When will it end’?

  2. Nothing before it is time. Anil will leave eventually along with numerous other ministers. Any ill gotten gains will be of no benefit to them or their families, Karma has no timetable, appearing to live the good life and really living it are two different kettle of fish.
    To the sportsmen of T&T and their associations its time to come together and demand better administration and less micro management by the Sports minister and or his PS. Their job is to facilitate not threaten athletes, Associations must also attempt to be accountable in all their actions, team selection, training, long term training and coaching. Athletes must also develop the killer instinct to want to win and want to work hard in order to win, that seems to be absent in many of you
    Forget the spitty mouth loud boy, demand performance.

  3. While I’m disappointed to put it mildly with the minister’s performance, the way this piece is written diminishes the efforts of George Bovell to a great extent, makes it seem as though he hasn’t earned all of what has achieved, nor does it highlight the struggles he has had in terms of training etc. For the better part of a decade the aquatic center has been proposed. It is right that it is finally being built. You are correct in saying that other sports deserve as much attention, but you are wrong in implying that George Bovell doesn’t deserve all the attention he is getting.

    • Feel free to point out the passage in this article that diminishes George Bovell’s accomplishments. The fact that he is properly funded and supported is a plus for him and not a detraction. It is also something that every national athlete should have. Anil Roberts should be Sport Minister to ever athlete; not just one.
      Bovell is a big boy and he made the conscious decision to have Anil Roberts as part of his entourage. Any suggestion that he did not expect questions to be raised based on his decision to have Roberts as his coach is insulting to Bovell’s intelligence.
      You cannot have it both ways. If Bovell wants Trinidad and Tobago to see him as just another national athlete with the same struggles as everyone else; then he should rethink the composition of his coaching staff.
      Hundreds or thousands of persons over the years have had to change doctors, attorneys, teachers and so on because that person became a Minister and left private practice. Even the likes of Michael Phelps and Roger Federer managed to change coaches without crumbling.
      Either you’re insinuating that Anil Roberts is the greatest coach that sport has ever seen… Or Bovell has another reason entirely for sticking with him.

      • You do congratulate Bovell’s accomplishments to date, but in the very next sentence you diminish his achievements by saying it must be nice to have the minister of sport on his staff. What he has accomplished is mainly due to his work ethic and commitment, not because of who he has on his staff.

        As for Mr. Roberts’ abilities as a swimming coach, I can’t say, maybe he is a good coach. I have no information on the training regimen, nor on his qualifications. Perhaps you do.

        Fact of the matter is I agree with you, all sports, sportsmen and sportswomen should be given the same attention and resources. Do you not think that it’s about time the aquatic center is built? I personally think it’s a crying shame we have sporting facilities falling to ruin when so much effort was put into building them as do you.

        • But the Sport Minister in your camp is on his staff… So why should anyone be affronted that I point that out? That does not say he does not have work ethic and so on. The under-15 footballers might have been just as committed with incredible work ethic. But the fact that Anil Roberts was not as interested in their development meant they never got the chance to even compete in the Cayman Islands.
          I don’t mean to take anything away from what Bovell does in the pool because he is certainly not cheating or breaking any rules. But he is an adult and Roberts and Bovell must both live with the ethical implications of their professional relationship. That is their business.
          As for the aquatic centre, I do not know that it will be of more benefit to Trinidad and Tobago than more or improved facilities for more populous sport. I am not saying yay or nay at this point until I have more evidence.
          But I would say that the Government should take care of the facilities it has before spending $200 million and more on new ones.
          I can seem combative on the keyboard. In truth, I do appreciate your comment, the feedback and an alternative viewpoint.
          Thanks for writing in Ashnaff.

          • Thank you Mr. Liburd, I think that person is missing the point. Why must our U15 go through what they had to?
            Where was the MINISTER When our young TABLE TENNIS players came back with all those MEDALS, which was the first time in a while again? FUNDING? Hahahaaha. PARENTS again had to make it happen.
            But as soon as Mr Bovell has to swim, he gone and how is the funding there?
            Look that person missing the point, that man took an OATH and is failing bad bad bad. No diss to MR Bovell but it’s taxpayers money not ANIL’s own.

  4. Congrats to the T&T Mens Hockey Team. To date there are still outstanding payments from the Localizeitt concert in 2010. A HOST of people are yet to be paid. Anil and Creed are refusing to pay the young persons a host of local artiste and other vendors…Ask Maximus Dan if he has ever been paid…Localizeitt needs to be investigated still…FULL Commission of Inquiry.

  5. The only good thing is that we don’t have to hear his garbage on the radio these days!

  6. Shame shame shame @ this Sports Minister. He doesn’t even have the decency to resign!