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SPORTT blanks TTGF; national gymnastics championship in doubt

The 2016 Trinidad and Tobago Gymnastics Federation (TTGF) National Championship is in doubt after the Sports Company of Trinidad and Tobago (SPORTT) declined their request for funding.

Photo: TTGF second vice-president Ricardo Lue Shue (back left) poses with young gymnasts in Trinidad and Tobago. (Copyright TT Sportslink)
Photo: TTGF second vice-president Ricardo Lue Shue (back left) poses with young gymnasts in Trinidad and Tobago.
(Copyright TT Sportslink)

The TTGF requested TT$118,000 from SPORTT but was rejected for a variety of reasons, including late application, low number of participants and failure to submit audited reports for 2012, 2013 and 2014.

For the second successive year, the TTGF event faced a boycott with over 60 percent of local competitive gymnastics clubs choosing to snub the event.

Only four clubs and roughly 75 local gymnasts—another 24 Curaçao nationals promised to attend—are carded to compete in the TTGF competition on June 11. While, on June 19 and 20, the seven boycotting clubs will hold their own Friends of Gymnastics competition at the Woodbrook Youth Facility and expect to have over 200 gymnasts.

SPORTT interim CEO Adrian Raymond suggested that the TTGF needs to get its house in order.

“This is the second championships in a row that they can only get four clubs there, so something is not quite right,” Raymond told Wired868. “The NAAA  are having their championships and they approached us for a venue and technical support but not money. And 90 percent of their clubs are taking part with well over 550 nationals competing…

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Gymnastics Federation officials (from right) Ricardo Lue Shue, Elicia Peters-Charles and David Marquez pose with Sport Minister Darryl Smith (second from right). (Courtesy Ministry of Sport and Youth Affairs)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Gymnastics Federation officials (from right) Ricardo Lue Shue, Elicia Peters-Charles and David Marquez pose with Sport Minister Darryl Smith (second from right).
(Courtesy Ministry of Sport and Youth Affairs)

“There must be that level of subscription from your own community otherwise something is wrong. Every NGB (National Governing Body) has its issues but you go to swimming or athletics and over 90 percent of their clubs are participating.

“It is mind-blowing that they don’t want to address those sort of issues.”

The TTGF, which is headed by president David Marquez, has been thrust into the national spotlight recently for all the wrong reasons, after repeated clashes with its executive and 20-year-old national gymnast Thema Williams, who was controversially deselected from the Rio 2016 Olympic Test Event in April.

At present, Williams is suing TTGF president Marquez, first vice-president Akil Wattley, second vice-president Ricardo Lue Shue and assistant treasurer Donna Lee Shue for over TT$11 million for alleged bias, malice and discriminatory treatment.

However, the problems within the gymnastics fraternity run deeper than its stance on the infamous Marisa Dick/Thema Williams dilemma.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago gymnasts Thema Williams (right) and Marisa Dick pose for a photograph while sightseeing in Rio, after the Olympic Test event on 17 April 2016. (Courtesy Hannifer Dick)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago gymnasts Thema Williams (right) and Marisa Dick pose for a photograph while sightseeing in Rio, after the Olympic Test event on 17 April 2016.
(Courtesy Hannifer Dick)

Yesterday, SPORTT’s decision earned the ire of at least one radio talk show host, due to an error by the State board.

SPORTT executive manager Anthony Creed’s email to the TTGF, which relayed its decision, was copied to Williams’ American coach, John Geddert.

Raymond insisted that was an inadvertent error, as Creed supposedly copied and pasted from a gymnastics mailing list used during the Rio Test Event, which included Geddert.

“It was a genuine error on his part, he has no affiliation with John Geddert,” said Raymond. “[Geddert] was on an email list because there were back and forth for the Rio Test Event. And rather than typing out all the emails, he copied and pasted and inadvertently copied the man in error.

“There is an attempt now to make that error seem as something clandestine to detract from important issues that need to be addressed. There was no effort from the TTGF to meet with the Sport Company [after our decision].

“But instead, they chose to speak to a radio talk show host, whereas we didn’t want to ventilate this in the public.”

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Gymnastics Federation second vice president and former president Ricardo Lue Shue (left) shakes hands with Sport Company executive manager Anthony Creed. (Courtesy SPORTT)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Gymnastics Federation second vice president and former president Ricardo Lue Shue (left) shakes hands with Sport Company executive manager Anthony Creed.
(Courtesy SPORTT)

Raymond claimed SPORTT did not arrive at a decision easily and was not picking on gymnastics. And he urged the TTGF—which allegedly sent its request for funding two weeks before its competition rather than the stipulated six weeks—to pull its socks up.

“We had a procurement workshop the other day and every NGB but one came,” said Raymond. “There will be proclamation of the procurement act soon, so we brought in all the stakeholders who have to now get an understanding of the policy…

“Every single NGB sent a representative, except gymnastics.”

It is uncertain whether the TTGF will go on with its National Championship without SPORTT’s assistance. Wired868 tried unsuccessfully to reach TTGF general secretary Elicia Peters-Charles for comment.

“It is not necessarily about gymnastics,” said Raymond, when asked whether other NGBs could face the same treatment. “It is something that will have to be reviewed across the board… We told the Amateur Swimming Association that we can only support ‘A’ standard swimmers and not ‘B’ standard anymore [for international tournaments]; and we will reimburse ‘B’ standard if they medal.

Photo: Young Tots and Tumblers gymnasts show off their winnings.
Photo: Young Tots and Tumblers gymnasts show off their winnings.

“And ASATT understand that and their last tournament was so competitive because coaches and swimmers understood that. Time and situation changes and you have to make those adjustments.

“At no time would you want athletes to struggle (…) but you have to make decisions at a certain point of time according to the variables.”

About Lasana 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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86 comments

  1. Andre should get i95.5 to sponsor them

  2. I just sat back and smiled at the news…. . ?. Ah waiting for crap in the Swimming Ass next. I’m getting involved because both my girls want to do well at this sport. I have talked about the disparity of those living in rural communities, Mayaro has supplied this country time and again, with quality athletes. COME SEE OUR FACILITIES….. or lack, thereof… ??

  3. Wonder if they even tried to raise any funds themselves. Bunch of blasted leeches.

  4. Hope there is more like this to come

  5. They try to harm one child and succeeded in exposing all dey dutty laundry and Corelle house wares.

  6. So happy about this stand taken. They cudda send THEMA, normal, normal, all ah dis crap widda never buss out so. But……..karma does wear half slip and Mac lipstick.

  7. DID RICARDO LUE SHUE REALLY SAY THEY DON’T HAVE TO DO AN AUDIT, THEY ARE NOT A BANK?

  8. Isn’t it a new SPORTT board now? Aren’t they doing audits on the operations over the last few years? I know they are supposed to be looking into Life Sport. Not sure about the rest but that has been happening with the other state agencies.

  9. Has SPORTT ever accounted for the vast sums of taxpayers money it squandered over the last five or more years? How can a company with such a horrific track record and questionable policies take a stand against any other organisation and demand accountability? SPORTT should have been disbanded and the entire Board made to answer for its actions….yet another example of the horrific mess that is the state sector….

  10. Weapons formed near Thema shall all become rusty

  11. Disband them crazy bald-heads!

  12. And what happens now with of all those cute, little, eager gymnastic faces?

  13. Buss pipe in yuh Rookongkatoonkoon!!!! Keep d pressure high!!!

  14. And the award goes tooooo…Abeo…yuh win!!!

  15. I’m doing a follow up this afternoon. But the TTGF said the show will go on 😉

  16. This made me sleep well last night , I ain’t lying . Let’s keep it rolling !

  17. It good fuh dem. After all what transpired, they expect people to take them seriously? Them pass boldface yes. TTGF….Is level blank for Allyuh.

  18. Watch God! I was having a toughish morning. This gave me LIFE! YASSS! Thanks Abeo and Michelle

  19. Having this post be the first thing I read on fb this morning, brilliant. Stick it to them!

  20. Between the membership standing up once again to have their own tournament, the public outcry over the TTGF’s blatant nonsense and now SPORTT’s refusal to fund them, this is how change happens.

  21. As far as TTGF, they were asked quite some time ago for their audits which have apparently not yet been submitted. That alone would have been sufficient to prevent them from getting any funding. To apply 2 weeks before the event is even more unreasonable. Is it that once I apply I will get the money?

  22. Pressure does buss pipe!! Let’s do this!!

  23. At. Blasted. Last. Somebody. Takes. A. Stand.!!!!!!!! Hats off to you sporTT!!!!!!!!

  24. Has SPORTT itself ever submitted audited financial reports? Does anybody take them seriously?

  25. They only knew how to develop Marissa Dick.

  26. no blasted support after what allyuh do to thema not one blasted cent set of dogs

  27. If one thing comes out of the Thema debacle, their shoddy governance of the sport has been exposed. The gymnastics fraternity knew it all along and now the whole of TT knows it.

  28. Every time I see these clowns from TTGF, ah does feel to pelt Mih ipad… But then unlike them, good sense prevails. No audited financials for all these years ?!

    David Marquez who either still or was the GM of a credit union should know better…

    Look ! I just finish Mih prayers… Breathe …

  29. Over half the clubs not showing up. They don’t send audits of their spending. They don’t show up for ngo meetings. They apply for funds late. Still asking for over $100,000….& it’s tomorrow?

  30. Hahaha! Why is he still in office? Wasn’t it his brother who was the PS who was involved in the that corruption with life sport?

  31. You must send in audited reports.How are you spending the country’s money?

  32. TTGF’s excuse about children being hurt is a convenient one! There are no developmental plans for the gymnasts and TTGF has failed to put a national development program in place which will ultimately lead to national team development. They prefer to import their national gymnasts, one just has to look at their track record. They did not hurt the athlete with their actions in the Rio test event? They need to stop using this excuse.

  33. Good ,
    No Audit report NO damn $$ , in only sorry tht children are gonna be hurt …..

  34. Pulling punches Lasana? Surprised you didn’t outline who the criticism was coming from. There have been ads splashed all over i95.5 on this matter.

  35. Lol. Adrian Raymond might want to double check some of his facts…

    • Ouch. Word from swimming I presume?

    • Tell him ask them for a list of all clubs that got to vote at the last AGM. Then ask for a list of all clubs that participated in the last meet. See if he gets 90%.
      Then he could ask them of the clubs that participated, what percentage of their membership took part in the last meet.
      Then he could ask them how many of the kids on the upcoming national team had A qualifying times before the last meet and how many made their A qualifying times at the last meet.
      Then ask him if he wants to stick with his quotes. Lol.
      Grade A mamaguy he getting fed…

    • Lol. Sounds like SPORTT needs a sit down with swimming stakeholders.

  36. Let Lue Shue and Marquez get Mama Dick to source sponsorship, possibly the same one who sponsored Marisa’s ticket to Brazil

  37. This is definitely a good step!

  38. Let Marisa’s ticket sponsor pay for it.