Merle Baggoo

NEW BOSS: Merle Baggoo

MERLE BAGGOO became the first ever female president of the Trinidad and Tobago Table Tennis Association (TTTTA) during their virtual annual general meeting on Sunday night.

But the 75-year-old is not expected to officially assume the role until tomorrow as outgoing boss David Joseph asked for a 48-hour period “to tie up loose ends.”

Baggoo stated that the request was granted with the provision that she and incoming general secretary Bob Roopnarine be “kept in the loop” concerning all activities during this period.

Baggoo was elected unopposed after the late withdrawal of 12-time national champion Aleena Edwards, who was the TTTTA’s general secretary under Ian Joseph’s leadership in 2017 and ’18.

The 1964 national champ pointed out that David Joseph made significant changes to the constitution at the end of February, including increasing a term from two of four years.

However, Baggoo noted that her administration “does not favour this change” and they will make amendments and revert to two-year terms in office. All the posts were uncontested on Sunday night.

Kevin Lewis and Richard Copeland were elected as 1st and 2nd vice presidents, respectively, while Kenneth Parmanand will be the treasurer, Leah Fraser, the assistant secretary, and Dave Ramoutar was voted in as the public relations officer.

Baggoo, who became the first female football referee in the Caribbean the same year she was crowned national table tennis champ (’63), not only revived QPCC (Queen’s Park Cricket Club) Parkites, but was the driving force behind the club becoming No. 1 in the country.

The former United States Open A class doubles champ admitted that her administration “has a lot of work to do and changes will not happen overnight.”

Baggoo was among many club representatives who had written to Minister of Sport Shanfa Cudjoe requesting “the disbanding of David Joseph and his executive and appointing an interim committee “to ensure the survival of the sport.”

In addition to the issue of sweeping changes to the constitution, the letter noted Joseph’s executive lacked transparency during their term, including not releasing a financial report in their two years in charge.

The complete absence of national training last year was another major issue and Baggoo stated that she will be speaking to coaches as soon as possible with the aim of securing venues to resume this very important aspect of the game.

The silver-medallist at the 2016 American Masters Tournament is also planning to take table tennis back to the rural areas” and hold weekly meetings with the members of her executive with the aim of improve the sport.

Her right-hand man Roopnarine comes in with by far the most impressive portfolio of the bunch and already held the post of general secretary about a decade ago. He is a former honorary secretary of the Caribbean Regional Table Tennis Federation (CRTTF) and has been the competition manager for the majority of Caribbean tournaments recently.

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