The Tobago House of Assembly (THA) is not an ATM to fund activities of national sporting teams, Assistant Secretary in the Division of Education, Youth Affairs and Sport Assemblyman Jomo Pitt has said.
He said there has been a disturbing trend that has developed for national sporting organisations seeking financial assistance for national teams to participate in overseas tournaments. He said the Department of Sport recently received a request for financial assistance from the T&T Table Tennis Association for an under 15 national team which comprised 13 of the 19 players to participate in a tournament in Guyana.
He said over the past three months he has been receiving similar requests for financial assistance from national sporting bodies for national teams going abroad to participate in tournaments and there seem to be something fundamentally wrong about this.
Alluding to Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar’s statement that T&T can no longer be an ATM for Caribbean countries seeking financial assistance, Pitt said it appeared that Tobago was the ATM for national teams going abroad once there were Tobagonians on the team.
He said he needed to collaborate with the Chief Secretary and members of the Executive Council in saying that the THA was not the ATM for national sporting organisations even if there were more players from Tobago on national teams.
“I don’t know whether there is a feeling that once there were Tobagonians on a national team send the bill to the THA. This goes across for football, hockey, table tennis, lawn tennis and track and field,” he told the sixth meeting of the Assembly’s democratisation programme at the Glamorgan Community Centre on Thursday night.
Pitt assured that Tobago athletes will not be short-changed however if the national organisations cannot see about them.
He disclosed that in order to recognise the achievements of the island’s youths, the Youth Department was planning to re-establish its youth awards programme to celebrate youths who would have contributed to the island, the country, the region and the world. Individual categories will include agriculture, entrepreneurship, leadership and academics while awards will be presented to groups with the most outstanding youth programmes.