“[…] Honourable Minister of Sport Ms Shamfa Cudjoe, when handing over funds to sporting associations please put added measures to ensure the intended purpose is realised.
“A suggestion would be to distribute funds directly to the swimmers and officials based on the cost breakdown in the meet summons or ASATT’s budget…”
The following Letter to the Editor on issues faced by Trinidad and Tobago’s national swimmers was submitted anonymously to Wired868 by the parent of a national youth swimmer:
As Team TTO prepares for yet another CARIFTA games held in Barbados, the parents of these aspiring elite athletes are faced with disappointment after being told by ASATT’s (Amateur Swimming Association for Trinidad and Tobago) vice-president Joseph Mc Leod, that no funding was allocated for team TTO for CARIFTA 2020.
Mr Mc Leod told the attendees at ASATT’s council meeting on 3rd March 2020 that government only allocated monies towards the hosting of Goodwill 2020, scheduled to be in Trinidad.
On the 20 January 2020 the Ministry of Communication posted an article entitled ‘Ministry of Sport and Youth Affairs funds Five NGBs’. In this article, it was stated that a cheque for $743,621.75 was handed over to ASATT for the preparation and participation at international tournaments.
Proceeding this cheque hand off, swimmers qualifying for the Team TTO for UANA 2020 Peru, the second hosting of this prestigious event from 21-23 February, left with no funding from Government. A trip that cost parents $12,000 per swimmer. They only received a promise from ASATT that they would contribute $10,000 to be divided amongst 14 attending athletes and 1 official—a mere $666 dollars each.
Now just over a week after returning from Peru, most of these swimmers have qualified for CARIFTA 2020. They are now being asked to pay $8,430 each, which covers their expenses plus that of 7 officials. Where is the privilege?!
These swimmers train through-out the year, sometimes with only two weeks off, hungry for the opportunity to represent their country, only to be told that they are to fund not only themselves but also every official accompanying the team.
On previous national teams, an ASATT-appointed team manager told parents: ‘if you can’t pay sit this one out’.
Parents have no voice within this association and are forced to use the media as a means of grabbing the attention of the honourable Minister of Sport and Youth Affairs. We are calling for ACCOUNTABILITY within ASATT.
Honourable Minister of Sport Ms Shamfa Cudjoe, when handing over funds to sporting associations please put added measures to ensure the intended purpose is realised. A suggestion would be to distribute funds directly to the swimmers and officials based on the cost breakdown in the meet summons or ASATT’s budget.
The sport is stifling with corruption and mismanagement. Swimmers are not being represented genuinely. These measures would also root out the greed within the association, as only genuine executives will stay on.
Parents are also calling on Sport TT to reduce the costs attached to swimming at the National Aquatic Centre, as clubs are forced to transfer this burden on to parents who already pay club fees, gym fees and high cost for nutrition for these athletes.
Clubs have also reduced there allotted sessions held there as it becomes financially unfeasible. This is only to the disadvantage of the athlete who gains valuable experience from training in a 50 meter pool.
Can SportTT compile a list of swimmers representing Trinidad and Tobago and allow them to train for free at the National Aquatic Centre? This would also encourage clubs to cater programs towards their elite athletes!
Honourable Minister, parents are also resorting to attending regional invitational swim meets as they have lost faith in the local timing system that is plagued by spontaneous breakdowns and in which recorded hand times are entered manually for affected events.
Can you appoint at national qualifiers an entrusted representative overlooking the recording and management of the timing system? Many times recorded by coaches and parents differ questionably from what was officially registered.
As parents we cannot continue to sit quietly with mounting expenses year-in, year-out under an association with no accountability (there was a bingo fundraiser in 2019 but we still have received no feedback on it), ‘questionable’ fair play and a lack of an all-inclusive vision to see the sport grow.
We need real, impactful change that would see this sport grow with the resources and talent that our country is blessed with.