Saturday, September 15, 2012

PM Kamla announces nationwide program for sports; gives $$ to Olympians and offers apology to Bovell

Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar on Thursday announced the launch of National Excellence in Sports for Trinidad & Tobago (NESTT), which is aimed at building athletic capacity and creating an all-round healthy, vibrant generation. 

She made the announcement at a reception at the diplomatic Centre for athletes who participated in the 2012 London Olympic Games.

She said her Government recognises that sport an effective means to channel the energies of young people into positive, productive endeavours and away from the temptation of crime and anti-social behaviour.

Persad-Bissessar said NESTT would be an all- encompassing programme, beginning at Early Childhood Centres and continuing through to the tertiary level to give gifted citizens access to expert talent-identification scouts, certified coaches, mentors and sport psychologists.

NESTT is an initiative of the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) and will be implemented by the Ministry of Sport in collaboration with the Sports Company of Trinidad and Tobago. 

The programme will nurture potential athletes from the initial development of their motor skills through the various coaching levels of their chosen sport from which will emerge "our future coaches, athletes, champions and yes Olympic Medallists," the Prime Minister stated

She said the plan is to build academies in all 41 constituencies over the next six years to provide the training and educational needs of the best young athletes who will be nurtured by the best coaches, sports psychologists, therapists, nutritionists, strength and conditioning specialists. 

"At these academies there will be seamless transition from primary to secondary so that these young student athletes will not have to undergo the psychological and emotional stress that is synonymous with the SEA exams," Persad-Bissessar said, adding that the initiative was inspired by "you, our Olympians and Paralympians."

The Prime Minister also announced that the government is giving strong consideration to the establishment of national academic scholarships for  Accomplished Elite Student Athletes, which would afford them the opportunity to attend schools of their choice and select sport specific coaches. 

"This programme will complement the existing Elite Athlete Programme, which offers a maximum of $250,000 to cover medical, nutritional, travel and training expenses for athletes who are among the Top 40 in the world in their sporting discipline. 

"All athletes who meet this and other criteria are eligible to apply, through their respective governing body, and access the funding," the Prime Minister said. 

She also announced that the 4x100m relay team members – Marc Burns, Emmanuel Callender, Keston Bledman and Richard Thompson – will each receive TT$300,000. Members of the 4x400m relay team members – Lalonde Gordon, Jarrin Solomon, Ade Alleyne-Forte and Deon Lendore – will each receive the same amount.
Allow me to note that policy and other considerations necessitate the establishment of a trust fund for elite athletes who are on scholarship. 

Persad-Bissessar also recognised the performance of George Bovell III, who won a bronze medal in the 200m Individual Medley in Athens 2004, giving Trinidad & Tobagio its only medal in those games and its first ever medal for swimming.
She noted that the former Manning PNM administration ignored Bovell and she offered Bovell an apology "on behalf of the government and people of Trinidad and Tobago" for the "disregard and disrespect meted out to you by the previous regime".  She announced that Bovell would also get TT$300,000 for his "sterling service to country during the 2004 Athens Olympic Games". 

She added, "Our Nation must not and will not waiver in its support for you. Just as you, our Olympians and Paralympians brought our country recognition and respect.  

"So too, my Government on behalf of a grateful Nation, makes a commitment to you and to our emerging athletes that more effective and efficient mechanisms will be put in place, to ensure that our sports men and women achieve their full potential...

"Investing in sport not only is an investment in the future of our young citizens. It is an investment in the future of our country. 

"My Government stands proudly alongside our Olympians and Paralympians, resolute in our commitment to provide the resources that will keep our current sporting heroes at the top of their disciplines and develop the potential of all our emerging, gifted sportsmen and women....Congratulations on a job well done!"

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Jai & Sero

Jai & Sero

Our family at home in Toronto 2008

Our family at home in Toronto 2008
Amit, Heather, Fuzz, Aj, Jiv, Shiva, Rampa, Sero, Jai