“The author alleges that: ‘[…] national swim teams pay nothing for their training there. How is it that a national team of one discipline has to pay to use the facility, while another discipline’s national team, under the same federation, has no cost?’
“[…] Notably, use of the National Aquatic Centre for National Team training does not entail a cost from SPORTT for either swimming or water polo national teams using the facility—a benefit negotiated for by the ASATT and a fact well known by all Council Delegates…”
In the following press statement, ASATT general secretary Gregory Mitchell responds to claims of bias and unjust treatment meted out to water polo by Men’s Senior Water Polo Team manager Ryan Smith:
It is a well-established fact that in sport, history has shown that few individuals can do great things, but together all of us collectively can do great things when there is great love for the sport!
The ASATT refutes the unfounded, biased and misleading information sent to the Media Houses by one of its Council Delegates bearing the name of Mr. Ryan Smith who alleges ‘injustice of the local aquatics—a water polo perspective’. For the public record, the ASATT therefore confirms the following response as it relates to the circulated unfounded, misleading information that bears no material facts:
- 1. The author alleges that: “Many requests to rename the local federation to an all-inclusive name that truly represents all the aquatic disciplines have fallen on deaf ears of successive administrations of the local governing body.”
In recognition of the need to ‘modernise’ and be inclusive of the various sporting disciplines the ASATT represents, on 24 March 2016, the Association obtained a name change, the Aquatic Sports Association of T&T (ASATT) via a Certificate of Incorporation as a Non Profit Company under the Companies Act, 1995 of Trinidad and Tobago. The registered No of the Certificate of Incorporation is C2016032904901.
The author of the misleading information is very aware that to effectively implement the name change from the Amateur Swimming Association of Trinidad and Tobago (ASATT) to the Aquatic Sports Association of T&T (ASATT), the Association must first effect constitutional reform—as was mandated by the Association’s Council and which commenced in 2017.
Notwithstanding the unsuccessful attempts of the past administration, a revised draft constitution has been completed by the present administration and is at the executive officers level for review, prior to circulation to the ASATT Council.
- 2. The author alleges that: “Naturally, then, the executives elected typically come from swimming and no other discipline and, just as typical, show no real concern for other disciplines, as they are unfamiliar with the workings and challenges involved. In accordance with the constitution of the Amateur Swimming Association of Trinidad and Tobago, there is a position of first vice-president who has the responsibility to chair the sub committees for each discipline.”
The Elected Officers of the Association are constitutionally elected and assumes office in keeping with the dictates of the existing ASATT Constitution. In keeping with the requirements of the Constitution, swim committee and water polo committee meetings are held and both meetings are chaired by the ASATT first vice-president.
Following the aforementioned two committee meetings, the recommendations arising out of each meeting are taken to the ASATT Council for ratification at its next Council meeting. Interestingly, the author purporting the misinformation is notably consistently absent from Council meetings and provides no excuses for being consistently absent.
Nevertheless, minutes of these meetings are circulated via emails to all ASATT affiliated clubs, through their council delegates and coaches, of which the said individual receives.
- 3. The author alleges that: “Water polo, of course, requires the use of pool space for proper training and games. The National Aquatic Centre’s schedule of lifeguards is such that by the time a team arrives to use the venue on a week day, with work/school commitments, plus heavy traffic, the facility is no longer available. So, the only available time is on the weekend. The Marlins Aquatic Pool at St Anthony’s College is run by a private club that engages in swimming and water polo. Access to training time is therefore very limited, especially as swimming is the main sport that uses the facility. However, national swim teams pay nothing for their training there. How is it that a national team of one discipline has to pay to use the facility, while another discipline’s national team, under the same federation, has no cost.”
The Association does not own any physical facility within Trinidad and Tobago. Being mindful of this, the Association continually seeks the best interest of all the active aquatic sporting disciplines it represents and in particular as it relates to:
- acquiring for use when requested available facilities for both club training and for the hosting of sanctioned Aquatic Meets which entails a cost to clubs that host both swimming and water polo championships. The author of the misleading document himself admits that ‘these costs are necessary to help in the maintenance of the facility’. Notably, use of the National Aquatic Centre for National Team training does not entail a cost from SPORTT for either swimming or water polo national teams using the facility—a benefit negotiated for by the ASATT and a fact well known by all Council Delegates.
- development opportunities for athletes and technical officials,
- representation at local, regional and international events,
- seeking sponsorship and financial assistance from Cooperate Sponsors, the Ministry of Sport and Youth Affairs (MSYA), the Sports Company of Trinidad and Tobago (SPORTT) and the Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee (TTOC).
The Association has been consistently providing up to date Certified Audited Financial Statements to the MSYA, SPORTT and TTOC. In addition, the Audited Financial Statements are provided to all of the Association’s registered Clubs at its Annual General Meetings which the author of the misleading document receives and is very aware of.
- 4. The author alleges that: “When it comes to funding for national teams, this is where the bias is most glaring. There is probably nothing more heart breaking for water polo players and parents to see the Minister of Sport present a cheque to the Amateur Swimming Association of Trinidad and Tobago to cover the cost of an international tournament at which both disciplines are attending, but only swimmers are on the receiving end.”
It is a well-established fact and has always been the policy of the Association and approved by its Council, that funding for national teams are borne by the athlete through their individual parents and club. Prior to the specific event, the Association usually submits a budget to the MYSA and SPORTT seeking funding.
When sponsorship (financial assistance or products) is provided from corporate T&T, it is consistently applied equally across all participating athletes to assist in defraying their individual costs.
Where full funding is provided from the MSYA via SPORTT approval process for funding of NGB’s approved championships, equitable refunds are provided to the said parents who would have previously provided payment on behalf of their respective athlete as it relates to the Carifta Championship (Swimming, Open Water Swimming and Water Polo), CCCAN Championships (Swimming, Open Water Swimming and Water Polo), and World Championships.
Over the years the PANAM Championships, CAC Championships, Commonwealth Games, and the Olympic Games are normally fully funded by TTOC.
During 2019, full funding was provided for Swimming, Open Water Swimming and Water Polo disciplines by the MSYA for the Carifta, CCCAN Championships and World Championships and parents were refunded based on their individual funding provided upfront all in keeping with the individual discipline subventions that were provided for by the MSYA.
The Association has available documented records where parents of the respective athletes signed for receiving the said refunds. Recognising the need to start raising its own finances for the benefit of its own athletes, in 2019, the Association commenced having its own fund raising initiatives and neither of these two events were supported by the said author of the article.
- 5. The author alleges that: “Our nation has the potential to qualify for high levels of competition in water polo, including world championships and Olympics. However, the largest opponent is our own local federation.”
The author does admit that ‘the largest opponent is our own local federation’ and in so doing admits being part of the problem rather than being part of the solution. The Association has no records to substantiate that the aggrieved member has followed protocol and brought his concerns to the ASATT Council for the Associations attention.
Over the years ASATT has with care, crafted the development of Water Polo which has resulted in the following:
- T&T achieving multiple successes in water polo championships and gold medals achievements at the Carifta Water Polo Championship, the Caribbean Islands Swimming Championships and the Caribbean and Central American Swimming Championships, qualifying for the Pan American Youth and Junior Water Polo Championships.
- In 2011, we also qualified for the World Youth Water Polo Championships in Perth, Australia (2012).
Unfortunately, history would recall that through the actions and/or inactions of the author of the misleading information, the Association within recent years was sanctioned to the sum of 6,000.00 francs by the world governing body FINA. Notwithstanding, in order for the sport of water polo to continue to grow, the Association seeks opportunities for participation at the highest level of the sport.
This is where again, through the inaction of the author of the allegations and his failure to follow protocol as the appointed team manager for the Men’s Senior Water Polo Team, the ASATT had to withdraw the Team from participation in the prestigious FINA Water Polo Challengers’ Cup in October of 2019.
Lastly, the ASATT notably distance itself from the hypocrisy associated with the author’s unfounded allegation and his personal views does not represent the views of the ASATT.