Brian Lewis

The presence of the Covid-19 pandemic and diminishing resources available to sport nationally increases the importance of the sixth Annual Sport Industry TT, says president of the Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee (TTOC), Brian Lewis.

To be hosted on the Zoom digital platform on its traditional first Thursday in March (March 4), Lewis said the conference entitled: “The Future is Now: Covid-19 Implications for the Sport Industry”, is more significant than ever.

“What has been interesting is that we have had a significant uptake in interest from some significant international sport industry players, particularly the US market, some big name brands and if we could nail those down, it would be very interesting and thought-provoking because these presenters are living...in that dynamic sport industry market,” says Lewis, also the president of the Caribbean Association of National Olympic Committees (CANOC).

“So I think that especially again, coming against the backdrop of the Minister of Finance (Colm Imbert’s) recent press conference, it is not hard to envisage from the sports perspective that if, traditionally, sport has been low down the national priority, it is understandable that sport stakeholders have good cause for concern in such an environment.”

Lewis notes that it will be more crucial to find sustainable, action-oriented solutions and to change the mindset, given the economic crisis the country is facing. He says sporting organisations will be obligated to reinvent themselves.

Lewis, also the president of the Trinidad and Tobago Commonwealth Games Association (TTCGA), adds the reality is some national sporting organisations (NSOs)are lacking the necessary entrepreneurial skills and risk-taking required to govern and run contemporary sports, with an additional backlash being a dwindling participation base.

“My real concern is the impact on athletes, development programmes, youth and young people. Covid is unprecedented and also gender regressive, so it is going to have a negative impact on women in sport, and the unfortunate thing about that is that women’s involvement in sport, female participation in sport and the female need for products and services that are sport-related, represented the growth opportunity for the sport industry,” Lewis assessed.

That is why Lewis believes this edition is probably the most important and could portend a defining moment for sport in T&T.

Minister of Sport and Community Development Shamfa Cudjoe and Minister of Agriculture Clarence Rambharat will be among the speakers at the event. Topics to be explored at the two-and-a-half-hour webinar include re-examining where and how sport happens - with a focus on improving transparency, flexibility, and resiliency; what topics and issues are global and which global principles relate regardless of region; and unique thought-provoking insights, action-oriented ideas and solutions that address the state of play and the challenges facing the sport industry in the coming year.

The conference will also seek to answer the question: “The future for niche sports?

The conference will also delve into the changing demands in sponsorship, sales, business development and monetising of sport assets.

Lewis envisioned that the latest TTOC companies, namely Team TTO TV, TEAM TTO MEDIA and TEAM TTO Marketing Ltd—registered as non profit subsidiaries of TTOC—could be eventually involved in streaming rights, films, documentaries and scripted TV as additional avenues of revenue once sport is packaged and presented to appeal to the local and diaspora-viewing audience.

Team TTO’s first production was the virtual 2020 TTOC Annual Awards which received positive feedback.

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