Martin Daly

Martin Daly

TUESDAY last, November 26, was the one-year anniversary of the declaration by the High Court that gymnast Thema Williams was a victim of “entrenched biases” when the then-officials of the Trinidad and Tobago Gymnastics Federation “made a flawed and unjustified decision” to withdraw her from the Olympic Test event in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

As a result, Thema lost the opportunity to participate in the 2016 Rio Olympics and to become an Olympian.

One year later she has not been paid one cent of the damages which the court ordered the Gymnastics Federation to pay her.

With acknowledgment to Chalkdust, Team Thema is putting on its guns again. The parasitic Gymnastics Federation is not the only parasitic sporting organisation that deserves to be wound up.

Appropriate legal remedies will be sought, but what raises this topic for discussion is the confluence of the judgment anniversary, the dotishness of the 2019/2020 election season including the apparent surprise of, by the political leaders, that nasty situations exist.

The shameful facts of Thema’s case need not be repeated. They are well known. However, in light of the recent remarks of the Prime Minister which I set out and comment on below, it is worth noting what the judge additionally said about named members of the then management of the Federation in a second decision on costs. The court stated that “their conduct was unacceptable and should be accompanied by a sense of shame”.

The Prime Minister made some strong statements about the failure of sports management. He was speaking earlier this month at the official opening ceremony for the Home of Football in Balmain, Couva, for which the Government provided State land, even though football management is in constant bacchanal.

I quote from a newspaper report: “Today, ladies and gentlemen,” Rowley said, “if we are familiar with failure, it is in the area of management of our sports. We featured prominently in very many sports at the international level, led by volunteers, with far less resources than we have now.”

“We do have, in our schools, as I speak to you now, we have boys and girls who are relying on the management of this sport–not the Government. The Government has played its part and the Government will continue to play its part.”

“What is missing is the management we used to have, when people served for service’s sake, and produced on it the talent that was waiting for that helping hand.”

He said T&T now has “absolutely no excuse,” adding that the Government has contributed significantly to the development of sports.

“You would have heard the minister (Sport Minister Shamfa Cudjoe) speak about how many $100 million went into sport. You would have heard the minister speak about how much millions went into football.”

“But you would also have heard the voices that say, ‘Government ent doing nothing for sports, Government ent doing nothing for football.’”

Was this colossal management failure really a surprise to the Prime Minister? His statements completely evade the responsibility of all our governments for enabling poor management by unrestrained funding. Our governments have been complicit while loads of freeness are indulged and unjust enrichment takes place.

These abuses, including bias and discrimination, are rampant because our governments dish out the money without any requirement for accountability or even an occasional check for wrongdoing. That’s why there is so little to show for “the many 100 million”, to which the Prime Minister referred. But, at the risk of repetition, who enables the waste and discrimination?

What happened shortly after Thema received the judgment of the court condemning what David Marquez, Ricardo and Donna Lue Shue, Akiel Wattley had done is cruelly reflective of how our governments and the agencies through which they operate are asleep at the wheel of accountability while dishing out taxpayers’ money.

Next week I will remind readers of a specific event at which the Minister of Sport was most present and which was inconsistent with the good governance for which the Prime Minister says he wishes. As we shall see, it was demonstrative of slackness and indifference to accountability and values.

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Although it comes at an unbearably high price, the COVID-19 pandemic brings opportunities for change that have been long needed but have hitherto gone to waste.

My headline today is not a typographical error. As suggested below, it is still uncertain whether the Government’s policy of siq, that is separate, isolate and quarantine, is a sound enough response to our COVID-19 crisis. We just don’t know yet.

COVID-19 is shaking civilisation to its core. Over one million persons are infected in 200 countries and over 55,000 have already died. Economies, industrialised and developing, are reeling. Global supply chains are being broken and the threat of shortages hangs in the air.

When we will have overcome the COVID-19 multi-pronged attack on Trinidad and Tobago, we will face associated problems ranging from the economy under severe stress such as it has never been before, with unemployment at a crisis level, disruption of the education system leaving all stakeholders confused, and possible shortage of foods.

The action taken by the Government over the past two or three weeks with respect to control and containment of the COVID-19 virus, which has been in line, by and large, with the action taken by other countries, ought to be supported if we are to weather this virulent epidemic.

It is a well-established truism that a crisis is a terrible thing to waste.

On the basis of and in recognition of this reality, conversations are taking place among various professional and sectoral elites about how not to let this moment pass without taking advantage of it.