The Covid-19 pandemic may have kept national athletes off the track and out of competition, namely the Tok­yo2020 Olympic Games, but many of them spent the time in lockdown participating in a number of focused webinars and advanced sport and athlete development programmes hosted by the Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee (TTOC).

The programmes, facilitated via online platforms Zoom and Bluejeans, were specifically geared towards athletes, coaches, physical education teachers, members of national sporting organisations and clubs.

TTOC president Brian Lewis said the TTOC intends to continue these collaborative video sessions, and have already developed a comprehensive schedule for the coming months.

“By going virtual, we had the abili­ty to reach a larger number of parti­ci­pants because we were no longer constrained by physical space in a classroom. Participants indicated that virtual learning is easier for them as the time wasted travelling to a location is eliminated.”

Lewis added: “We will keep building and improving our existing courses to meet the changing needs.”

Programmes offered included a Caribbean coaching certification programme (CCCP) facilitated by national women’s hockey coach Anthony Marcano, that included modules such as developing sport skills; long-term athlete development (LTAD); fitness, regeneration, safety, recovery and sport for people with disabilities.

The modules were presented by Dr Terry Ali, TTOC executive member; Gina Ragbir, University of Trinidad and Tobago (UTT) senior instructor; and Kion Williams, UTT lecturer.

The second programme was a three-­day course geared towards coach­es preparing their athletes for competition. It was facilitated by Marcano, with modules presented by UTT lecturer Peer Naseir and Chester Morgan, a professional footballer from St Vincent.

“Due to the exceptional interest by our national coaches, we were forced to split the workshop into four groups. Two sessions were held in June and two more will be held this month,” Lewis said, noting the third programme was a level one sport administrators course, and a precursor to the advanced sport administrators’ courses which introduce participants to the basics of sport administration.

Those modules included an “Introduction to Sport Administration”, “Organisational Planning, Roles and Responsibilities of an Administration”, “Building Clubs and Groups” and “Innovation in Sport and Event Planning”.

The TTOC also hosted two webinars titled, “Covid-19: An Opportunity to Grow, An Opportunity to Innovate, An Opportunity for Transformation” and “TeamTTO Care and Injury Prevention”.

Both webinars featured a diverse range of speakers, including, Lewis, UTT lecturers Stacey Cateau and Kervin Jean, Dr Ian Hypolite, Dr Terry Ali, Dr Kerry Dollaway, Dr Karielle Debique and Dr Rudranath Ramsa­wak.

Prior to Covid-19, Lewis noted TTOC held discussions on creating a blended education format which would combine online and in-classroom sessions to better facilitate its target audience of working individuals, but “Covid-19 accelerated our plans and we took the challenge to provide online programmes using online platforms. The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, resulting in us having to run some programmes consecutively to satisfy the demand,” he explained.

Annette Knott, TTOC secretary general, said the Olympic Committee has always placed high value on advancement through training and education, and gave the commitment that the committee will continue to serve and lead by example.

“Our team in the Education Commission of Catherine Forde, Anthony Marcano and Lauren Legall are dedicated to working with us and providing the pathways for upgrading the skills of our community. We are paving the way for our national sporting organisations to realign themselves to be crisis-resistant in the future.”

Knott added: “We continue to build capacity and the knowledge base for those in sport and with collaborations with the Universities, UTT and UWI, and the support of the Ministry of Sport and the Sport Company, the TTOC will lead the way in quality capacity building through education for our sporting fraternity.”

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