Dear Editor: Ignore misleading spasms of success; T&T sport is dead but here is how to save it…

“Yes, we won gold at the 4x400m at the last Worlds, our cricket team did a historic volte-face in the last Test match against England—setting all kinds of records in the process—and, with the help of an outstanding Cuban coach, we secured our second ever Olympic gold after 64 years at the highest level.

“Congrats to the individuals/teams. But remember I just wrote about the spasms and how these against-all-odds successes are used to justify the status quo.”

The following Letter to the Editor on the perceived ailing of Trinidad and Tobago sport and how to address that problem was submitted by Rae Samuel:

Photo: Honduras playmaker Alexander Lopez (centre) wheels away to celebrate after scoring the opening goal against Trinidad and Tobago during World Cup 2018 qualifying action at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva on 1 September 2017.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/CA-images/Wired868)

So we are once again at the sporting morgue. Another relative—this time from the football branch of the sporting family—has passed on.

The scene is distressingly familiar. Our kin was placed in the hands of an untested paramedic, hired by a could-not-really-care-less staff who seem to mistake our moans for prayers and votes of confidence. I speak on all sporting teams, not just football.

So we stand at the sporting bedside and, at every blink of an eye, muscle spasm or long drawn out sigh, we raise our hopes as the spin doctors loudly proclaim enhanced recovery is nigh. And then the inevitable, which we tried to ignore with eyes wide shut, occurs.

We are out of this tournament, we have lost this qualifier, we chose the wrong athletes, the Ministry did not come through with sufficient funds, we chose the wrong venue and that last goal was not offside…

The doctors of forensic sports medicine must be as giddy as their overworked comrades in Federation Park.

But much of what I have just written is old/new news. Yes, we won gold at the 4x400m at the last Worlds, our cricket team did a historic volte-face in the last Test match against England—setting all kinds of records in the process—and, with the help of an outstanding Cuban coach, we secured our second ever Olympic gold after 64 years at the highest level.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago 4×400 metre gold medallists (from left to right) Lalonde Gordon, Machel Cedenio, Jereem Richards and Jarrin Solomon pose on the podium during the victory ceremony at the 2017 IAAF World Championships in London on 13 August 2017.
(Copyright AFP 2017/Glyn Kirk)

Congrats to the individuals/teams. But remember I just wrote about the spasms and how these against-all-odds successes are used to justify the status quo.

But I want us to move beyond that. Our Panama loss on Tuesday night put us in a World Cup canal from which we will not emerge. And I thank Panama for an act of mercy killing.

I want to suggest to us, the aggrieved relatives, that no miracle cure will come at the hands of these administrative spin doctors. That we, the sporting public, must begin to organise across all sporting disciplines. Not just as football, cricket, track and field, gymnastic fans but rather with the understanding that sport is a part of the national patrimony as much as oil, transportation, education, health.

We fund it directly or indirectly, we support it and they consistently fail us.

I am suggesting that groups within communities, sporting organisations and national bodies begin to meet and discuss issues. That is how the the Eddie Hart ground was prevented from becoming an indoor facility under the UNC-led administration. I covered that event.

Photo: Thema Williams of Trinidad and Tobago competes on the uneven bars during the 2015 World Gymnastics Championship in Glasgow, Scotland, on 23 October 2015.
(Copyright AFP 2016/Andy Buchanan)

Old, young, activists, seniors stood up to the then-all-powerful and arrogant Mr Anil R. There was no executive, no protocol, no boss man/woman in the first phases. That democratic leadership emerged because persons with particular skills gradually were given tasks and responsibilities through consensus.

So I am suggesting that people begin to meet, with the agenda being to find a way forward. We all imagine we can identify the problems so let us start the discussion and the process of building a unified approach in sport. We have social media where groups can report on what has been happening and then groups can widen contacts into wider units leading to a broad-based national formation.

But we need to put away the keyboards for a while and go into our workplaces, communities and social organisations…

…and take it from there.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago football fans react to action during their team’s goalless draw with the United States yesterday in 2018 World Cup qualifying action at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain.
(Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)
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  1. We are never going to find that “black cat” – we are indeed as “the blind man, standing in a dark room, looking for a black cat that isn’t there” – could be a, “black hat” if you wish! Our process is built on the here and now and is, unhinged. There is a sweet but ever true saying that speaks to what we are NOT doing and, it is because we are short term crop farmers! The saying, “decisions are the hinges on which our future swing” is at the core of why we are where we are. We are NOT prepared to make decisions that AREN’T geared to short term “crop bearing and ready-to-eat” produce. Our practices show that we are none other than, tomato and okra farmers – three months and we bite-up if the crop is NOT ready for eating. You see, as with any long-lasting, ever-and-always-producing tree, the date palm in this case, gives us the example of the farmer who understands that, “It takes between 6 to 8 years before the pups will be big enough to transplant, and then another 7 or 8 years before they will begin to produce.” All of our programs (track and field, however, are showing to be on the up and up) appear to be hinged on the step that is, just in front and right before us. The tight rope walker or the experienced bike rider know that for them to get where they are going, their heads cannot be buried in their first steps and in their right-in-front-of-them and only, focus. I believe that DJW has shown to be a person that knows these things, as evidenced by the long-lasting successes of his, born-to-him, W-Connection, his, from his womb, birth child. The question is, can he be the parent that will be and is capable of treating his adopted child, the T&TFA, the same as with his very own? Sadly, even if he assembles the mindset for doing the same for the T&TFA, he needs the support and conviction of his “wife” and other immediate and supporting “relatives” and that is where the “blind man, in the dark room, looking for a black cat that isn’t there” comes into play – futility at its utmost best!

  2. Part of revival has to do with,firing Williams

  3. In football we need someone who can known not only in COCACAF and UEFA but also in the Asian League and speaking of UEFA, instead of just using English style of football let’s try different styles of football especially at youth level,

  4. Sorry … the number of IAAF qualified coaches in T& is 251 not 105 …. so we on the right track to dominate the world ….and produce more local athletes …. well yes …. I wonder why there are so many and if there is a monetary compensation from the IAAF to recruit more coaches … you know how these things work in Trinidad…

  5. Well ah guess that comes with the third world mentality eh, but don’t tell them that I said so eh. Them really good yes. hahahaha

  6. By the way, the TTFA’s coach selection skills isn’t any different from the Port Authority of TT’s sophistication in purchasing boats fuh the Tobago route eh!

  7. Well I am certain that we don’t have so many coaches in our sweet country coaching football academies, schools, club teams, eh so maybe it is time to have a Elite Coaches organization, same as the Elite professional youth program and one can only be accepted when they have proven themselves with winning stats eh and not how some of these bootleg coaches are nominated by the corrupted TTFA and always failing and they continues recycling the same loosing bootleg coaches all the time, and they will go down in history for hiring a football players scout to coach the Soca Worries and they were really expecting good results eh. Them really good yes.

  8. Earl Mango Pierre it’s not just football.. that happens on all the NSO’s… very sad.. I believe that Rae hits the nail on this one…. it has to be a grassroots movement… do you know that according to the IAAF website we have the most IAAF coaches in the Caribbean. I believe the last time I checked it was over 105. And look at how dominant we are in track and field

  9. Rae Samuel I agree with you 1000% eh, but what about the part in always voting in the right people to run the corrupted TTFA eh, so that the right Coaches will always be nominated to coach our national youth and senior men/women teams and that is a very important part that wasn’t mentioned eh. Them really good yes.

  10. How can we talk about iy when people actually defend people who have failed at one job then given other one inside the same organization. TTFA perfect example right now

  11. Maybe the corrupted TTFA needs to also hire a Cuban to coach the Soca Worries in order to be successful . Them really good yes

  12. I like the premise of this article.

    I am hesitant about whether any of it will come to fruition

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