Home / Rio 2016 / Some of Marisa’s critics would make Trump blush; Shaka joins gymnastics debate

Some of Marisa’s critics would make Trump blush; Shaka joins gymnastics debate

I see, in Trinidad and Tobago, the discrimination against foreign-born athletes is alive and kicking.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago gymnast Marisa Dick performs at the Toronto 2015 Pan American Games. Dick was born in Canada to a Trinidadian mother, Hannifer. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago gymnast Marisa Dick performs at the Toronto 2015 Pan American Games.
Dick was born in Canada to a Trinidadian mother, Hannifer.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

Full disclosure: I was born in the UK and represented T&T with all of my pride. I also have more than a passing interest in gymnastics. So I have followed the personalities, issues and discussion around Trinidad and Tobago gymnastics very closely.

My second daughter, Khazia, was also born outside of T&T and, at one point, she also considered representing the “Red, Black and White” but for an elbow injury which required surgery.

I have no side in the latest wrangling involving Thema Williams and Marisa Dick. They are both exceptionally talented, hard-working gymnasts and admirable young women. The recent furore surrounding them both has highlighted some issues that seem to be thriving in our culture, which I find alarming.

This story only serves as a backdrop to a much wider issue. One that I have been subjected to and which my kids may have to endure—and so is of major concern to me, hence my writing.

Firstly, the gymnastics issue.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago gymnast Thema Williams performs at the Toronto 2015 Pan American Games. Williams is in line to be Trinidad and Tobago's first gymnast to perform at an Olympic Games. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago gymnast Thema Williams performs at the Toronto 2015 Pan American Games.
Williams is in line to be Trinidad and Tobago’s first gymnast to perform at an Olympic Games.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

I’m not pointing fingers, apportioning blame or accusing either of the gymnasts or their teams for the apparent tit-for-tat leaking of photos. Photos that were totally inoffensive in my opinion.

I currently work for ESPN, a Disney-owned company. Every year, ESPN Magazine put out the “Body Issue”, where dozens of fully naked athletes—women from basketball player Britney Griner to auto racing driver Danika Patrick—pose showing their physiques.

I am yet to see an uproar about that, either on these pages or elsewhere. And I couldn’t help but wonder if “Georgette Heinz”, who wrote that initial email complaining of Thema’s Instagram post, will also stop her daughter from watching Disney movies, or playing with her Snow White doll in response to ESPN Magazine’s Body publication.

Or whether “Kamara Heinz” will follow suit.

If not, then her hypocrisy is about the only thing worthy of the venom that followed Wired868’s articles on the matter.

Photo: USA heptathlete Chantae McMillan is one of dozens of athletes who appeared nude in ESPN's Body Issue Magazine. (Copyright ESPN/Carlos Serrao)
Photo: USA heptathlete Chantae McMillan is one of dozens of athletes who appeared nude in ESPN’s Body Issue Magazine.
(Copyright ESPN/Carlos Serrao)

Further, Ms Melissa Grant, while I agree with most of what you said in your email in defense of Thema, please don’t make assumptions on athletes’ funding about who gets what or when. The truth may surprise you.

That aside, more importantly, as it is being discussed and commented on, please remember that you are talking about two young women who are both trying to find their way in an increasingly confusing world.

They are at an age where they are both discovering their sexuality, recognising the strength of their shared heritage, and trying to do so in a world in which women of every colour are asserting their equality.

You are discussing two young women who have both committed countless hours to gymnastics. You are discussing two young women whose only ‘crime’ is to harbour ambition of representing Trinidad and Tobago in their sport of choice.

Some of the discourse and rhetoric used in the comments section right here on Wired868 in discussing this top were enough to make Donald Trump blush—totally lacking of respect and compassion.

As a parent with a daughter who very well may have been the subject of such diatribe, it was hard to read.

Photo: Khazia Hislop finished first in level 10 of the US gymnastics nationals in 2013 and fifth in 2014. Hislop was set to represent Trinidad and Tobago at the 2014 Commonwealth Games before multiple elbow operations ended her international aspirations. (Courtesy Shaka Hislop)
Photo: Khazia Hislop finished fifth in level 10 of the US gymnastics nationals in 2014.
Hislop was set to represent Trinidad and Tobago at the 2014 Commonwealth Games before multiple elbow operations ended her international aspirations.
(Courtesy Shaka Hislop)

Still, I thought it was important that my 17 year old gymnast daughter read the article. Her response was profound in its maturity: “What people don’t seem to get is that gymnastics is a team sport.”

That’s an issue for the TTGF and TTOC to address.

And now to the wider issue at hand. My wife and I are both from Trinidad. We have done everything in our parental powers to make sure our children fully understood and appreciated their “Trinbagonian roots.”

Though none of them were born there, we see them all as ‘parent-displaced Trinis’, and have tried to get them to see themselves as such.

It can sometimes be confusing to a young mind, but we know that they’ll appreciate it later in life. This confusion sometimes manifests itself in different ways. But as Trini parents we remain committed in the strength and value of our heritage.

Nothing would have brought me more pride than to see one of my children representing T&T. Nothing.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago defender and 2014 TTFA Player of the Year Arin King (left) dives in to tackle Colombia's Tatiana Ariza during the Toronto 2015 Pan American Games. (Copyright AFP 2016)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago defender and 2014 TTFA Player of the Year Arin King (left) dives in to tackle Colombia’s Tatiana Ariza during the Toronto 2015 Pan American Games.
(Copyright AFP 2016)

I’m not alone in feeling this way. Our national teams are increasingly represented by foreign born athletes, with an honour that echoes their parents’ own pride in our country.

From David Rudder’s son, Adam, to my former teammate Jerron Nixon’s son, Jerron Jr. From Leroy De Leon’s son, Nick—who recently indicated his willingness to represent T&T—to 2014 Women’s Player of the Year Arin King.

So to see the way our young athletes are treated, labelled and discriminated against by their own, our own, makes me wonder about a bigger picture of national identity and pride.

I also cannot help but feel it is reflective of some of the wider issues that our country faces today.

So please, while you chastise our young and aspiring, understand that these young boys and girls, men and women—whether born in Trinidad and Tobago or outside of our shores—have as much right to be proud of who they are as any of us. And many times make way better citizens that we often are.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago gymnast Marisa Dick competes at the Toronto 2015 Pan American Games. Dick placed 14th with a total of 51.25. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago gymnast Marisa Dick competes at the Toronto 2015 Pan American Games.
Dick placed 14th with a total of 51.25.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

Editor’s Note: Story updated by Shaka Hislop to reference other overseas-born Trinidad and Tobago players.

AboutShaka Hislop

Shaka Hislop
Shaka Hislop is a football analyst with ESPN and a 2006 World Cup player with Trinidad and Tobago. He played professionally in England with Reading, Newcastle, West Ham and Portsmouth and has an Executive MBA in Business Administration and a Mechanical Engineering degree from Howard University. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame athlete in Trinidad and Tobago and Howard while he was the inaugural winner of the England PFA's Special Merit Award for his services to football.

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120 comments

  1. The truth will soon be revealed, those we believe are innocent will soon be proven otherwise.

  2. Very well said, Shaka! As a proud Trini myself whose entire family migrated to Canada when I was 18, and whose seven siblings and their children all currently reside abroad (I am the only one who resides here), I find it ‘farse and outta place’ for anyone to be so bold as to pronounce on who is more Trini than whom. As Shaka intimated, many of these displaced Trinis are far more nationalistic and proud of their heritage and their country than many current residents.

    • I was/am not impressed. People are forgetting that Marisa had the public’s attention and support up til the news of TTGF’s shenanigans became public. I would venture to say we’re quick to claim the Trini connection. There’s a lot more that people are responding to that is manifesting in Canada vs Trini. It wasn’t automatic.

  3. Thanks Chabeth Haynes didn’t realize that, but it still applies.

  4. This is actually an older piece. From February. It was written around the time that the picture of Marisa saying that her heart belonged to Canada first surfaced (at least here in the group)

  5. While I do understand Mr Hislops concerns regarding foreign athletes, maybe in this case he should ask himself this. What manifested this disregard for Marissa Dick in this case? The answer is the TTGF itself is what fueled the dislike of this young lady. This is, and was never about foreign based athlete vs local athlete, this was about bias, lack of integrity, lack of sportsmanship and plain and simply put a personal vendetta against certain people who not only questioned the TTGFs running of the organization, but insisted on transparency and decency. I mean, imagine if it was Mr Hislops daughter in Themas situation? Regarding sending no representative to rio, I believe that should not now, or ever be and option. We earned a spot, we deserve it, namely T&T. To not send and athlete will no doubt not only hurt the sport of gymnastics here in T&T, but also destroy any hope of us saving face in the international arena. What should now be done, is all clubs should withdraw their membership from the federation, pay no dues, and write the international body demanding a full and transparent investigation into the process and situations that led to this travesty. Until then, let the TTGF operate as a 5 person club, The TTGF has now become our local FIFA and as such they should be made to face the full brunt of the law and the people of Trinidad and Tobago.

  6. Totally missed the boat on his analysis…. This has moved beyond nationality. This has moved to the issue of process and how process was flouted to benefit one athlete. That is the discrimination that should be looked at….. Smh

  7. I have no issue with her being foreign born and repping for TT but I have a problem with her saying she is Trini on the floor but Canadian in her heart. what did she mean by that.

  8. I have experienced some progress with the treatment of foreign born/based athletes. My USA born son, Noah Powder last year captained our U17 MNT in CONCACAF World Cup Qualifiers. A foreign born player selected to captain one of our Men’s National football teams, maybe a first? To take this to another level, his TnT roots are from Tobago where another level of discrimination is perceived towards athletes. Is the treatment of foreign born athletes just an extension of our historical treatment of Tobago athletes?

    We are not unique with this foreign born mistreatment. Klinsman, USA National Coach has come under fire from many in America for selecting German born American players. A racial dynamic also exists as some are the children of African-American soldiers.

    For me at the core of this matter is competition for a spot,some people will say,do or use anything to justify their desire to be selected. As a society we have should practice two things: 1. same rules and standards for everyone and 2. maintain a commitment to excellence where the best are selected.

    I wonder whether we extend the poor treatment and discrimination towards our foreign based/born lawyers, psychologists, doctors, nurses, educators, journalists, engineers, social workers, economists, etc. That would cause much greater detriment to the country.

  9. Shaka didn’t read between the lines if he really thinks people’s criticism of Marisa have anything to do with her being foreign born. They may have attacked Marisa her for being Canadian born but that was more about misplaced anger geared towards our system of governance. Had she been the only one vying for a spot to represent Trinidad, 99.9% of Trinis would not have said a thing and been quite supportive.
    The criticism of Marisa comes from misplaced anger that Trini’s have because of lack of trust and transparency in our systems of governance. The TTGF set out rules by which a representative would be selected, but then appeared to try and circumvent their own rules using subterfuge. I think that people felt they were about to be cheated by the machinations of the TTGF. The attack on Marisa is a direct result of the apparent complicity of the TTGF in the sullying of Thema. Many people feel that the TTGF is slyly trying to sabotage Thema’s chances and make Marisa the representative for TT gymnastics. Georgetta Heinz was merely a ruse meant to create fake outrage and depose Thema as frontrunner to represent TT. Because the TTGF actually entertained the letter by Georgetta Heinz instead of immediately issuing a statement in support of Thema for a picture that was in no way scandalous, many people felt they were setting up the stage to usurp Thema with Marissa. I am willing to bet that Kamara Heinz is another “nom de guerre” who is trying to even out the machinations of Georgetta Heinz in a silly game of ‘tit-for-tat’.
    In Trinidad and Tobago where accountability and transparency are nonexistent, the criticisms of Marisa are a visceral reaction to the perceived lack of integrity by the TTGF. People were angry and Marisa was an easy target because they believe she was about to benefit from injustice against Thema. The name calling, though abhorrent, is rooted in classism/racism and the feeling of being powerless by segments of the population. We don’t want to admit it but Trinidad and Tobago still suffers from the vestiges of colonialism. Many people feel that money and race are inextricably intertwined and favor certain segments of Trinidad society. When it became blatant that an injustice was about to be committed, the anger spilled over and Marisa’s “otherness” was singled out and attacked by segments of the public.
    In the end, after being put in the spotlight and calling their bluff, I am going to surmise that the TTGF and the disciplinary committee will not punish neither Thema nor Marisa. But this entire situation does nothing to engender trust in institutions that proclaim to be fair and impartial.

    • I wish more people are able to read this article and your intelligent and articulate response. Thank you.

    • Well said, Ms Clarke. Except I suspect some of the criticism leveled at Ms Dick resulted from her apparent lack of empathy (schadenfreude even!) at the plight of Ms Williams. The team aspects of gymnastics not being relevant because TnT isn’t sending a team. Tragic that these non-sporting non-issues should be consuming so much space. Best wishes to both young women.

  10. Simple but effective analysis…my brother played for St Mary’s and National football front age 12…to 19 and his daughter has only been to Trinidad once but at 17 she thinks she is more Trini than me and I must never deny her the right to own her Heritage. ..

  11. some Trinidadians real outta timing because the diligence and sacrifice to even make it this far most people who would run and kiss her in Piarco ,if she come back with any medal would not be interested to take up the sport personally

  12. its clear which of the sexes crave attention ….skill or not

  13. Its interesting that Hislop ignores that fact that Miss Dick’s desire to represent T&T at the Olympics stems from the fact that it is easier her her to earn a spot with T&T as compared to Canada.

    Watching her social media postings and comments to Canadian media it would not be surprising if she won a medal at the Olympics and her love for Canada being the first thing that came out of her mouth.

  14. Shaka is a boss. Representing Trinidad and Tobago is a nightmare! No insurance, text messages instead if phone calls. Misinformation, lies, mis management and lies!

    • You make it sound so professional…lol

    • I honestly don’t know why anyone would want to represent T&T in light of of how we’ve treated our athletes in the past.

      • Because many times it is easier to earn a place on a TT squad than in the Developed Nations’ squads. They get exposure and experience being on the TT squad and go on to develop their careers.

        The problem is not foreign born athletes, the issue with Dick was her posting of her heart belonging to Canada. It came off as insulting and disrespectful, which in teaching about heritage, one must teach about Trini culture of not wanting to feel lower than others or used. Trinis are patriotic, and do not like to feel like ‘the horner woman’.

  15. I found it so counterproductive that not only do our athletes have to fight for a spot to represent Trinidad and Tobago, but they then have to fight to be deemed acceptable……..to of all things our troubled society!

  16. The “issue ” is that Thema has already out qualified Dick according to the rules as put forward by the TTGF, now that them Thema is the qualified representative for Trinidad, it appears that the TTGF is doing everything in their ultimate power to discredit and remove her from doing so in favor of Dick. The real question you all should be asking is why is the TTGF behaving in such a manner when they are supposed to be a fair And unbiased.

    • The fact that Thema Williams is the person qualified for the next stage is the most important thing. Of course. But Shaka Hislop might have also touched on something worth discussing.

    • Lasana Liburd, Mr. Hislop has touched on some fundamental issues which are worth discussing but within this article some of them are out of context. I also think that what needs to come forward is the discussion of what the Federation has done historically to disadvantage one athlete as opposed to another. I hope that these issues can also come to the fore

    • Tonya Ayow and their unwillingness to bring this to a close within a timely manner seems disturbing.

  17. Didn’t read all the comments. .but I don’t think the issue with Dick was her foreign birth..I think it was the apparent injustice against Williams. .also interesting the article is written by Shaka who I remember having refused (right or wrongly ) to represent TnT for some time and actually sat on an English bench

    • That isn’t true Shaun. Or that is only a piece of the story. I wrote about this years ago for the Trinidad Express and maybe I should revisit it for Wired868 so it will remain available for readers.
      Let me summarise: Shaka Hislop goes to Reading FC in England and begins breaking records. Oliver Camps gets in touch and asks him to represent the senior team. (He had previously been an unused sub for the national youth and senior teams). Shaka agreed but asked that the TTFA respect his work responsibilities with Reading and he would skip friendlies when there was conflict.
      Jack Warner sets up a friendly with the US and decides that he wants Shaka to play, irrespective of that gentleman’s agreement.
      Shaka asks to be left alone as it was a friendly and he was only fit first team goalkeeper at Reading.
      Jack Warner uses his FIFA power and has Shaka Hislop banned from representing Reading at a time when the club was seeking promotion.
      Shaka, with his dad’s help, fights back and is able to have ban overturned since he had a British passport too and had never represented T&T up until that point.
      Shaka then vowed he would never play for T&T under that administration.
      Now he did sit on the bench for England after that. His club coach, Kevin Keegan, was national coach at the time. But when his former youth coach, Bertille St Clair, became national coach, he agreed to let bygones be bygones and represent T&T again.
      That is a rough summary of course. But it should give you a more nuanced appreciation for what really happened.

    • Like I said, maybe I will write on it one day for Wired868. Or do a no holds barred interview like what I did with Cornell Glen.

    • ^^^never knew that … but as I said (rightly or wrongly) since you never know the nitty gritty… thanks Lasana Liburd

    • Maybe I will do that interview Shaun. 😉

    • Well that was years ago..there was no social media and I was much younger and relied on traditional media only …and that was the story given…..agreed…the interview is overdue

  18. Earl Best

    Shaka’s mini-bio does not say that he was a student at CIC right here in Trinidad so he has a first-hand experience of fatigue and picong and can make the distinction between that and venom. I think he has deliberately steered clear of commenting on the issue of why Thema was not officially named T%T’s rio representative after the 2015 qualifier but I guess he prefers not to get embroiled in the administrative side of the current issue. I would, however, have liked to hear his take on that.

  19. Totally agree with you VernalDamionCadogan. We really full ah shit and have nothing better to do than cry down our own as usual. Strips!

  20. We’re really full of shit.
    Here we are a country of meager resources struggling for our place in the world, we find ourselves in the enviable position of fielding an Olympic gymnastics team and we’re considering disqualifying women because they posed for and posted sexy pics on social media.
    Aren’t we the same culture that regularly and callously features the corpses of murder victims on television and newspapers?

  21. Let me ask a dotish question – does the TTGF have a set of guidelines or regulations by which they can be informed as to what qualifies and/or disqualifies potential athletes from representing Trinidad and Tobago?
    The fact that they are still deliberating strongly suggests they do not and are making this all up on the fly!

  22. very well written and gently argued. Compassion and respect. I’m born in Trinidad and often face the identity police. Gotta stop. We gotta talk. xx

  23. I really do not know which comments Shaka is referencing when he is talking about people discriminating against foreign based or foreign born athletes. I missed those.
    Foreign based or foreign born athletes are given the same considerations as everyone else and in this case the foreign born athlete is the one receiving the elite funding.
    I am really curious to know how Shaka would have handled his daughter declaring her heart for another country while representing Trinidad and Tobago. I would also love to know what his reaction would have been if on the eve of the Bahrain match, Chris Birchall had said, you know what fellas, this has been a great ride but man, it would’ve been so much more awesome if I had done this with be Beckham and all those other guys on the England team.
    He and I clearly have very divergent views on what national pride and national identity look like. I’m more in line with the Portuguese and Italians who got pissed with Deco and Camoranesi.

    • I think his point has merit but I’ve not noticed any comments in this scenario that were not directly related to the perceived bias from the TTGF.

      I’m also not at all fond of the timing of such a public statement, excluding comments and context, at such a volatile time.

    • Yeah there are people who have an issue with foreign based and foreign born athletes representing the country. But I really don’t know what discrimination he is talking about. They don’t get any less than locally based or trini born athletes and to the best of my knowledge are not persecuted in any way. They are actually actively sought out and in some cases heavily wooed. Maybe “discrimination” is “alive and kicking” was just poor phrasing.

  24. Great read …again it is a small group in T&T that seem to misrepresent the majority….

  25. “So please, while you chastise our young and aspiring, understand that these young boys and girls, men and women—whether born in Trinidad and Tobago or outside of our shores—have as much right to be proud of who they are as any of us. And many times make way better citizens that we often are.” Very telling statement and very true. They see a different world to those who don’t live it.

  26. Great commentary. I feel like some of the information required for folks to take an “unemotional” position is not being provided in this case. Have both gymnasts been active in T&T gymnastics all / most of their career. Did Ms. Dick try out for the Canadian Team and is it because of non-qualification there that she is pursuing Olympic participation via TT?

    Homegrown Trinibagonians have every right to want a “total local” over others. Especially when the comments about Trinidad and Tobago by foreign based Trinis is often less than complimentary. Between Christmas and Carnival I interacted with “returning” Trinis and their opinions about TT are often quite disheartening, and they look down on “the ones who didn’t get off the island”. To the point where I had to tactfully say there are ways for you to contribute to nation building remotely – What are you doing?

    Awesome young ladies I wish both well. I really really really want to see the Trini colours on the floor/mat in August. All this energy could be better spent arguing over what background music she will do her routine to! “Jump in the Line Shake yuh body in time…” #SocaRemix

    Blessings

    • Lasana Liburd

      Well, those might be interesting things to note too. But isn’t the most important consideration whether foreign-born athletes have something positive to contribute?

  27. All yuh realize the reason why this situation hasn’t been resolved yet is because the decision makers as is often the case in the banana base their decision on public sentiment expressed on facebook right?

    Is rell comment dem hadda read!

  28. Just playing the Devil’s Advocate here – I wonder if Marisa and Thema had the opportunity to represent both Canada and the US respectively or Trinidad and Tobago, which country they would select?

    • Shaka’s daughter clearly could have represented the US if she placed fifth in a national tournament.
      But consider this. David Trezeguet could not get into the Argentina team with Gabriel Batistuta and Hernan Crespo ahead of him.
      He played for France instead and won the World Cup and Euro Championship.
      Deco had loads of competition for Brazil and switched to Portugal and was sensational.
      Mauro Camoranesi couldn’t crack Argentina but won the 2006 World Cup with Italy.
      All those players maintained their love for the countries of their birth. All returned to Argentina and Brazil when they retired and Deco and Camoranesi both got in trouble for draping themselves with the flag of their birth lands at one point.

    • In other words, we can still all benefit from this arrangement regardless.

    • I’m still awaiting an answer to my question?

    • How do we get the answer? What does it matter? If Dwight Yorke could have played for England at the 2002 World Cup, would he waited to try again with Trinidad and Tobago in 2006?

    • I go back to my original position. In a country where sportsmen and women rely heavily on State funding, the government should only fund those elite athletes who are local and have a genuine allegiance to the country. This would have a more positive impact on the psyche of our athletes and would over time positively impact the development of the sporting discipline(s) They should not fund foreign nationals regardless of the international exposure to be gained!

      • Nonsense.

        What difference does it make? Once they have Trinidadian parentage, they qualify as a T&T citizen and can represent the country in any capacity, should they choose to do so. Are you seriously suggesting that Trinidadians born abroad are less patriotic and hold less value than those who are born locally?

    • Well, you certainly aren’t one for turning. Lol. Ok.

    • Nigel Gittens , I guess you weren’t cheering when Chris Birchall scored the vital equalizer against Bahrain in 2005.

  29. Editor’s Note: Story updated by Shaka Hislop to reference other overseas-born Trinidad and Tobago players.

  30. Very interesting insights. Hope it helps.

  31. I would say if the asses at the TTOC and TTGF can not take off the blindfold their eyes and see what is happen in world sports an is also been accepted. I wonder if the Canada and USA take these to young ladies and send them to the Olympics. An these young ladies should winner one or two events, I am sure the TTOC and TTGF would be the first to say that they are Trinidad and Tobago Nationals.

    • If they were able to make the Canada or USA team, there would not have been an issue. The fact is that they could not have made those teams and as such they are here.

      The question of Williams versus Dick is not a racial one either ( as some have put forward). Williams made a better score than Dick, and as such she qualified to represent TT further. However, Dick produced a new ‘technique’ subsequent to the last qualifying competition and as such could be a greater asset than Williams in the upcoming competitions.

      As such, the local body was faced with a dilemma, that being, should they send the one with better points, or the one who – due to the innovative technique developed by them – may earn more points than the former.

      Put another way, if Riyad Emrit comes up with a bowling technique that will most likely out the best batsman, would you choose him over Narine for the T20 Championship? Or a six hitting Evan Lewis over a drought stricken Chris Gayle? That’s the dilemma.

  32. Well said!!! As the youths does say say no more!!

  33. I think this sums it up. As it relates to the photos, the public views them as one.

  34. I think it would be informative to identify at least one of the quotes/comments in question.

    While I understand the position Shaka is taking, there’s something significant lacking (imo).

    Almost immediately the TTGF was excluded from the context, but that context is critical.

    What I have seen is tremendous support for both athletes in the context of their photos. There has been a united front on this – unless I’ve missed a series of comments. In which case I stand to be corrected.

    Where there has been a divergence in support relates directly to perceived preferential treatment of one athlete over another. That has been viewed through the lens of race, class and the all too familiar phenomenon of Trinis valuing foreign over local. And each of those is a valid discussion.

    It completely loses context when the TTGF is removed from the discussion.

    So again, while I understand Shaka’s concern for his daughter, she will never suffer this fate unless her future holds a hint suspect backroom dealings which result in her preferential treatment. And knowing Shaka’s moral stance – she’s safe.

    • I think he was just moved by one aspect of the story, which doesn’t affect the other issues at all. In fact, I don’t even see this as a gymnastics piece really.
      There will be grumbles eventually when Leroy De Leon’s son, Nick, represents T&T too should that day come.

    • I agree with you that it isn’t a comprehensive summary of the issues at hand. But don’t think it was meant to be.

    • I’ve not said anything contradicting that. However, saying “these comments would make Donald Trump blush” and then omitting reference to the comments and their substance will understandably prompt one to ask about those comments and their context.

      You cannot claim bias against foreign-based or foreign-born athletes without context and not expect a question mark.

      Trinis? Trinis are quick to claim the most remote connection to greatness. And Trinis have celebrated Marisa and continue to do so.

    • Lol Nicole Philip Greene. You right. We even claiming a piece of the Grammy for “All about that Bass”?

    • Nicole, I am so glad that you made this point because as far as I am concerned the TTGF is going ahead with their plan of
      Action to deflect attention from themselves. Do you think all of this would have been happening if the TTGF had adhered to the original agreement where the athlete who scored higher at the World Championships would be the representative at the Test Event? Why was Ms. Dick still touting on Canadian TV that she still had two competitions and a chance to go to the Test event when TTGF and TTOC had already announced Thema as the representative? Why is it she referred to this period as a “cut throat” time. One has to ask what has been promised to this athlete? You definitely cannot leave them out of this equation, they are central to it

  35. Shaka Hislop

    Quick confession: I sent Lasana my first draft. Hopefully I can get him to make the correction, uploading my final piece first thing in the morning. Apologies.

  36. Great article by Shaka…one thing though isnt it the same heinz woman who sent both photos???

  37. Great writing Shaka !!!! Respect

  38. I understand totally where Shaka’s coming from, having lived and worked outside for a long time and then coming back home to “give back”.

    • You came back, Sav. To give back. There’s no doubt where your heart lies.

    • Thats not the whole story Chabeth, sometimes I wish I didnt. It is very demoralising at times…I despair at what I saw in 2005, very disappointed with what we’ve become

    • I am a survivor tho..and know how to work

    • Some of the comments above are so grossly unfair to Trinbagonians as there are many who stay here express more hate for our country than those who live abroad. I have an extended Family living in Winnipeg and my Brother introduced TnT carnival to that city. My Dad who was the brother of Edmund Hart along with the rest of my family took great joy in working in their mas camp. There is always Soca music playing in their cars and homes and two of my Nephews came to Trinidad to try out with the national team and the pro league. One made it to the pro league under Terry Fenwick. They are fully aware and proud of their Trini roots though most were born in Canada so I for one am in total support of Shaka’s statements. I applaud you Shaka for telling it like it is.

  39. It will always be a divisive topic because it is mostly an emotional one I think.

  40. Aww, how refreshing! Thanks so much Shaka Hislop. Thank you so much.

  41. Admire your thinking more each day shaka…well written. …brother!

  42. I missed the article or video clip where Shaka, as a Trinidad and Tobago athlete, declared his heart was for the UK. If anybody knows where to find that article or video clip, please share. Thanks.

    • That photo and caption from Marisa is ticklish. It doesn’t feel good to know that she doesn’t think of T&T first. But then it also feels understandable.
      I remember Dwight Yorke once said he wouldn’t ever return to live in Tobago because there was just nothing there for him anymore. And that was long before he captained Trinidad and Tobago proudly at the 2006 World Cup.

    • Not a rebuttal by any means. Just that it is such an emotive topic. It doesn’t necessarily mean that she doesn’t try as hard when she is representing T&T.

    • One photo might not be a good reflection of her thoughts though. MIGHT. I don’t know. Never met her or heard her discuss topic.

    • Dwight said he would never return to live in Trinidad and Tobago or Tobago? I have a friend from Valencia who no lives in POS who finds Valencia is so far from everything and she wouldn’t move back there. ?
      I agree it is an emotive issue because a lot of pride and heart goes into representing this country. But it really isn’t ticklish. I challenge anybody to find a national coach or other national official (manager, chaperone etc etc) who would appreciate being on a team with a foreign based athlete who’s talking about my heart belongs elsewhere.
      Idk… You think any player on the 2006 WC team would have appreciated a teammate saying their heart really belongs elsewhere.
      I have no issue with foreign based athletes. I know and like more than a few who represent the country with enormous pride.

    • Well I’m pretty sure if asked now she’d have a much better response.

    • True Chabeth. He was talking about Tobago and not necessarily Trinidad. I understand your point for sure.
      In Portugal, there was a lot of criticism when one of their best players, Deco, draped himself in a Brazil flag after he won the Champions League with Barcelona. Same issue with Camoranesi who is an Argentine who won the World Cup with Italy.
      In both cases, they were not dropped although the public wasn’t happy.

    • I’m not saying she should be dropped if she rightfully earns a spot. Just that it’s disrespectful and I see nothing wrong with calling somebody out for disrespecting the country. I don’t care where you’re born. We aren’t anybody’s potty.

    • Well, that would be saying declaring love for one country is disrespecting another. Maybe she can have two lovers. Lol. I do get your point. Her comment was unwise. But I would give her a chance to explain it away.

    • People should have one lover. ?
      Even Zika is sexually transmitted!
      But it really isn’t like just having two lovers. It’s like me being with my bf and spending his money but posting a pic with him on one side of me and another guy on the other side of me and saying “though I walk holding his hand in public, my heart really belongs to you.”
      I’m laughing so hard right now just thinking about how that shit would just not fly! ???

    • Totally agree Chabeth. The problem here is also the medium. Social media is problematic, as there isn’t usually a filter. If she had expressed her view on Trinidad/Canada in an interview, she probably would have expressed herself better, than just ‘expressing herself’ online, on her own.

      We also need to remember that these girls are teenagers.
      I see a lot of people comparing the nude photographs taken by other athletes as proof that it isn’t a big deal, But it isn’t a fair comparison. Firstly, those are all adult professional athletes doing a professional photoshoot (for a cause), obviously approved and endorsed by their ‘handlers’ in a culture that is open to that sort of thing. Most, if not all of them have already succeeded on the international stage- some many times over.
      To compare that to two young teenagers, only one of whom MAY get to the Olympics- expressing themselves on snapchat, on their own (no filter/advice/cause) does not really make sense in my opinion. The pictures themselves are inconsequential (though as a parent, I’d have an issue, especially with Dick’s). The bigger issue is why they were released, by whom, and what the Federation’s response will be, taking into consideration their bumbling of the representation issue in the past.

    • Thank you, Jeremy! Nice to not be the only one in the wilderness on this anymore! Lol.
      But I do find the tepid reaction to Dick’s photo caption to be confusing. Deco drapes himself in a Brazilian flag and the Portuguese public gets upset, we fund a foreign based athlete through the elite athlete program, she talks about her heart belonging to another country and everybody just shrugs, like whatever.
      National pride isn’t just about jumping up and down when we succeed, it’s also about keeping your chin up at all times and not letting anyone spit on you!

    • By the way, it might be confusing for Marisa too to be pledged to one country and not the other. Maybe this is something that many people with dual nationality feel. I wouldn’t know.
      Being young, she expressed it clumsily.
      It could be that there is not much more to it than that.

    • sorry that is a big turn off for me..and it just echo’s my problem with foreign born atheletes..representing tnt!! emotions or not young or not.. its what the feels so will it come forth from thy mouth!!! no matter how much we try to integrate them ..they are foreign born!! and such!! … me i hope Thema gets pick!! and this Marisa just goes back an represents her heart in Canada!!..dont use TNT as a Props to further yourself.and career

    • All foreign based or foreign born athletes are not the same. I know several who enthusiastically represent us and work hard to make our teams.

    • Chabeth Haynes there is a big difference between representing TNT and REPRESENTING TNT. Show me any foreign born athelete who represented TNT in TNT now doing anything to give back to the country they so love?? and don’t say shaka..in my opinion.he is to iffy for me……cause right now im trying to think of any and not one is poping in my head so help me? cause if your heart in TNT, u will help the country that gave you a international platform to elevate your self but also give back to the country!!…….. also the only one now came to my mind is Ato even doh born in trini had the opportunity to go US an actually represent US…he stayed with us and has effortlessly and continuously tried and push to help the younger athletes coming up, in the country etc…….. that’s is what i wanna see ..to really show me your heart is in TNT

    • Most athletes who give back to the sport do so via coaching. It is extremely and I think borderline unreasonable to expect that a foreign based athlete would uproot their entire life in another country to come here to coach under conditions that are significantly more difficult. You didn’t see Thema say she had to move because her gym here didn’t have pits and pits are essential to learning new moves? It would be very frustrating coaching here for many people. And none of these athletes go on to earn any great financial success. If any of them did I am sure that they would give back financially like Usain does.

    • I Guess you didnt read my example!! lol.. where is Ato Boldon Coaching or Training Center!!??

    • No one said they had to Uproot To Trinidad..or Tobago..but show your so called love and enthusiasm in getting pick to represent TNT on the International Stage!! by giving back!! where every you are located!? and if you saying about giving back financially then !! you get it all wrong.. i thought giving back means you giving back with love ..not because u didn’t make it financially you cant give back

    • Huh?
      People give back via time and/or money. How do you want somebody who lives in a foreign country and has no money to give back to the Trinidad and Tobago?

    • Btw David Gintoki Aguillera, what do you mean when you say Shaka is iffy?

    • That image and caption don’t exist in a vacuum. This is someone we don’t know.

      She’s flying our flag and we want to embrace her (y’all be real – Trinis will claim you once you have a trace of T&T anywhere in you). But with all we see and hear of her, we don’t see her HERE except when it’s to add a notch to her belt, we don’t hear her giving mad love to T&T, again except in the context of affording her a chance to realize her Olympic Dream.

      It leaves a bad taste in your mouth given the context.

      The presence of the photo is one thing. The absence of Trini love is another.

      Having said that, some of the comments being thrown at her are really unbelievable.