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TTGF president and general secretary call it quits; Gomez-Burke set to take over

Trinidad and Tobago Gymnastics Federation (TTGF) president David Marquez and general secretary Elicia Peters-Charles will quit the local sporting body later this month, even as the TTGF grapples with the fall-out from its controversial deselection of gymnast Thema Williams from the Rio 2016 Olympic Test event on 17 April 2016.

At present, Marquez is one of five defendants, including the TTGF, who, according to Williams’ attorneys: “conspired and combined together wrongfully and with the sole or predominant intention of injuring [the dream of Thema Williams] and/or causing loss to [Williams] by depriving her of the opportunity to qualify for the 2016 Olympics and/or by wrongfully […] promoting Marisa [Dick] at the expense of [Williams].”

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago's Marisa Dick performs on the balance beam at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games on 7 August 2016. (Courtesy Sean Morrison/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago’s Marisa Dick performs on the balance beam at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games on 7 August 2016.
(Courtesy Sean Morrison/Wired868)

Williams, who is represented by senior counsel Martin Daly SC, advocate attorney Keith Scotland and instructing attorney Reza Ramjohn, is seeking TT$11.3 million in damages from Marquez, first vice president Akil Wattley, second vice president Ricardo Lue Shue and his wife and assistant treasurer Donna Lue Shue for allegedly breaching a written contract and violating their fiducial duty as officials by giving Williams’ hard-earned “opportunity of a lifetime” to Dick.

Marquez’s decision to quit the TTGF is not expected to affect his role in the court matter while, so far, Peters-Charles was not named in the lawsuit.

Earlier this month, Marisa Dick, who was Williams’ alternate, became Trinidad and Tobago’s first gymnast to compete in an Olympic Games as a direct result of the TTGF’s decision.

However, for undeclared reasons, Marquez and Peters-Charles decided that they no longer wish to retain their leadership roles within the TTGF and have stepped aside voluntarily.

Local gymnastics stakeholders will vote on their replacements at the TTGF’s AGM on Tuesday 30 August 30 from 3pm at a venue to be named.

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)

Andy Gomez-Burke, a bombastic businessman and avid golfer, is the only candidate for the position of TTGF president. He is believed to have the support of the current board.

Sharon Lynch Fadahunsi and Rhonda Doopan will contest the position of general secretary while Michelle Abdool and Catherine John put themselves forward for the vacant post of assistant general secretary.

The TTGF has operated without an assistant general secretary since Caroline Rostant retired in 2015.

Gymnastics official Michelle Telfer-Frankland, whose Tots and Tumblers club was among the teams that boycotted the TTGF’s competition and held their own tournament last month, said the rebel clubs failed to put up their own candidate for the presidential position before the 31 July deadline.

“Our very strong candidate didn’t get permission [to run for the post] from a government-paying job at the last minute,” Telfer-Frankland told Wired868. “We didn’t have time to make anyone else an associate member to be put forward as a candidate. I messaged Mr Marquez about an extension for the deadline and he said he would get back to me. But he never did.

“We were not granted the courtesy of an extension.”

Photo: Businessman Andy Gomez-Burke (right) poses with fellow golfer Desmond Ambrose at the Cotton Tree Foundation Charity Golf competition.
Photo: Businessman Andy Gomez-Burke (right) poses with fellow golfer Desmond Ambrose at the Cotton Tree Foundation Charity Golf competition.

The TTGF’s constitution states that all clubs and officers must be given “at least fourteen (14) clear days notice” for an AGM. Since the gymnastics body’s notice was dispatched on 19 July, the deadline for nominating candidates should have been 2 August rather than 31 July.

However, Telfer-Frankland said they will not contest the TTGF’s position on the deadline.

Doopan, who is actively involved in dragon boat racing and a regular gymnastics volunteer, and John, a PE teacher at Holy Name Convent, were both put forward by the dissident gymnastics clubs.

Telfer-Frankland also claimed that she requested, via email, a list of clubs registered to vote at the upcoming election. But her requisition also went unanswered by Marquez and the current TTGF board.

Another oddity is that the financial statement presented for the upcoming AGM represents the year which ended on 31 August 2015. It means that Marquez and Peters-Charles, who came into power in September 2015, now vacate their respective offices without ever having to explain how they handled the body’s assets.

Photo: COPOS Credit Union manager and Trinidad and Tobago Gymnastics Federation (TTGF) president David Marquez (left) makes a presentation to GECCU president Clarence Harry. (Copyright GECCU)
Photo: COPOS Credit Union manager and Trinidad and Tobago Gymnastics Federation (TTGF) president David Marquez (left) makes a presentation to GECCU president Clarence Harry.
(Copyright GECCU)

At the end of 31 August 2015, the TTGF’s assets were TT$138,047 in the bank and TT$239,662 in mostly gymnastics equipment.

The upcoming TTGF AGM will address just one tabled motion, which aims to insert a confidentiality clause in its constitution for all members under its ‘Standard of Conduct’:

“Members who serve on the council and/or committees: Confidentiality – All discussions and communications (emails and text messages included) from committee meetings and/or related to issues arising from meetings should be kept confidential.”

At present, Williams’ attorneys have based a significant portion of their client’s case on emails and text messages which, they felt, demonstrated victimisation, hatred and bias as well as arbitrary and high-handed behaviour against the national gymnast.

If the TTGF’s motion is passed, it will make punishable the passing on of such potentially incriminating messages in the future.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago gymnast Marisa Dick (centre) talks to Trinidad and Tobago Gymnastics Federation (TTGF) first vice-president Akil Wattley (right) at a local gymnastics meet at the Tacarigua Indoor Sporting Facility on 23 April 2016. Looking on (bottom left) is Dick's mother, Hannifer Dick. (Courtesy Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago gymnast Marisa Dick (centre) talks to Trinidad and Tobago Gymnastics Federation (TTGF) first vice-president Akil Wattley (right) at a local gymnastics meet at the Tacarigua Indoor Sporting Facility on 23 April 2016.
Looking on (bottom left) is Dick’s mother, Hannifer Dick.
(Courtesy Wired868)

Telfer-Frankland claimed to be stunned that, a year after the TTGF agreed to revisit its controversial constitution, the only adjustment that the current executive seeks to make is a matter of self-preservation.

“My jaw is on the floor,” said Telfer-Frankland. “[The TTGF officials] are there because their membership put them there. But they are saying that what they discuss there, they are not allowed to take back to to their members?!

“In the minutes [of the last AGM], there was an agreement made coming out of the mediation with four clubs, which was headed by attorney Elton Prescott SC. And it was put to a vote and there was an agreement to overhaul the constitution.

“And now we see the only move towards that is a motion for confidentiality.”

Although Marquez and Peters-Charles have decided to step down from their board positions, Wattley, Marquez, the Lue Shues and treasurer Susanne Babooram will remain in office until they are constitutionally due to face the polls in 2017.

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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145 comments

  1. Only in Trinidad!!! Make you mess on the floor and hope somebody else cleans it up.

  2. So they looking to fly out to a country that has a non- extradition treaty with T&T?

  3. If they knew that they did the right thing why quit? Shouldn’t they be standing by their decision?

  4. Just because they quit doh mean the lawsuit finished.

  5. Dem now gone? Dem shoulda feel shame enuf to go long long time

  6. They done get their free trip to Rio with their dick, so is now they looking to resign. Trinidad sweet yes. Smfh!

  7. Worse than a day late and a dollar short

  8. You knw what hurts the most… Dick proformance was not good… yet the place her… and try to destroy Williams in the process of their foolish unsightly politics because Dick was from Canada. .. she didn’t even so well in Canada yet here we are. I hope Williams wipe the floor with them….

  9. Hmm so basically nothing has really changed then

  10. Well someone did comment a couple weeks ago that both these peeps quietly left ttgf in July. Guess now we know for sure.

  11. The sins of the parents will always fall on the children! They think going to church is a fashion show! The priest might doze off , but GOD don’t!

  12. So you think u just quit and that’s it… no eh!!! Deal with the lawsuit…

  13. Most of the old guard remains intact.

  14. WTH…??? Who is Andy Gomez-Burke outside of being a “bombastic business man, and avid golfer???” What is his interest in gymnastics??? What does he know about gymnastics??! How is this “bombastic business man, and golfer” going to revolutionize gymnastics in T&T and take it to the next level??? Why isn’t he on the the board for golf if he wants to play more of a managerial roll in sport???

  15. Same khaki pants. I would be happy to be proven wrong in this instance.

  16. Andy Gomes-Burke, I congratulate you on the above appointment, though frankly the country is more to be congratulated.

  17. Not if they were sued in their personal capacities

  18. Tie them in the Square and ————-. You know the rest .

  19. Thema’s lawsuit still going ahead?

  20. Foolish question here . If and hopefully when , Thema wins her million dollar law suite. Who pays ? The Federation ? The tax payers via the Min. Of Sport ? Who exactly is liable ?

  21. Is this their plan to evade the lawsuit?

  22. Steups now?!Should have resigned long before.

  23. They feel that will protect them? Lawsuit eh go change

  24. Is Lu shue turn to resign now….. What you waiting for?

  25. Steups. They were hoping Dick was getting a Gold Medal?

  26. I still want the Lue Shue’s heads on a platter. Figuratively of course. And as for their padner they putting up to continue their legacy…..this is not over. And the supposed confidentiality clause. These ppl are so boldface and arrogant in their thieving bullying dishonest ways. Steuupss.

  27. Harleen Quinzel Keith Clement

  28. what is it here, or does the the TTGF has also this distinction in accordance to the companies Act between the Board and the executive?….

    • Michelle Telfer-Frankland, can you answer that?

    • the compliance with the companies act in the case of a incorporation is a pain, aside of the fact that the Act does not allow for a 4 year term (Olympic cycle), it also mandates that the secretary shall not be elected but appointed by the board, furthermore there are requirements for Board and a separate executive. For a small federation that already struggles to find 5 or so volunteers for the board there is no way to find another 4-5 people for a separate Executive… in my opinion the compliance requirement works counterproductive to the aim of increased transparency. And i know about that pretty precise because i have a next meeting about exactly that tonight and ensure that our next constitution is a) compliant with the act and b) maintains or better yet improves transparency and the rights of the members to rid of bad management…and we have a serious good corporate lawyer volunteering her time to assist us in this task that has to be completed by October….

  29. ..Playing smart with foolishness..

  30. Lasana, I don’t understand the line while they resign they stay in office until 2017 when elections are due? can you explain that further. Usually a constitution, depending how long it is again till the next elections allow for appointments (in most cases if the elections are less than 12 months from date of resignation) or require the calling of a SGM Special General Meeting to elect intermediary officer until the next due elections, but in both cases the others are gone and these guys have all the rights tat come with that office…..

  31. About time! Glad to see you all go! But still FACE THE LAWSUIT.

  32. Would you look at that. The Lue Shues are still hanging in there, though, working to minimize accountability as much as possible…

  33. after he done cause all he bacchanal stupessss

  34. They have accomplished their mission.

  35. Good riddance, allyuh could leave “TnT” while allyuh at it. And like “Taurus Riley” said, DON’T COME BACK!

  36. No no no this is not enough. They must pay money. Cold hard cash money.

  37. ..All this trauma and for what?..

  38. Too little, too late..!!! They actually have the option of quitting…

  39. Hi Mr Liburd,
    Since Ms Dick televised presentation at Rio 2016 I have been asking (to various media houses through their social media platforms) how come Mama Dick (Haniffer) was courtside with Marisa? She was most present, even ESPN’s Shaka Hislop commented on her presence and greeting Marisa at the end of each of her events. Visible around Mama Dick’s neck were the large accreditation badges. How come she wasn’t in the stands as other parents and supporters? Was she accredited? And if she was accredited to be there at courtside, then the question is asked – by whom? Was it the TTGF or the TTOC? Did she get a free ride to Rio 2016 courtesy the T&T taxpayers?
    Please Lasana can you get the answers to this for us please?