FORMER professional basketballer Kibwe Trim believes for sport to develop in TT three aspects must be taken seriously – mindset, preparation and branding.
Trim delivered the keynote address at the TT Olympic Committee Sport Industry TT Conference, at Hyatt Regency, in Port of Spain, on Thursday. Those in attendance included members of national sporting organisations.
Trim, a former captain of the TT men’s basketball team, also played professionally for ten years in eight countries including France, Venezuela, Japan, Romania, Lebanon, Taiwan, Korea and in the US with the Los Angeles Clippers. The San Juan native is the founder of DreamChaser International Foundation that provides tutoring, mentoring and financial aid for children who are excelling academically and are performing in some sort of discipline including sport, art and entertainment.
On the business of sport, Trim said, “I know there are many different aspects of how we could make sports viably commercially profitable, but what I did was just decide to focus on three things that came to my mind immediately when talking about this theme.
“The first thing that I thought about was mindset. There is a cultural mindset in TT that sports is just a game. I am not sure how that goes regionally in the rest of the Caribbean, but growing up here that’s what I saw.”
The former St Mary’s College student said sport can change the lives of people, using the example of Los Angeles Lakers star Lebron James.
“Sport is indeed a big business. When you talking about Lebron, we are talking about a kid from the slums in Akron (Ohio). (He was) raised in a single parent home and has now transformed his life, the life of his immediate family and the life of generations to come.”
Trim said sports teams make millions of dollars with the Lakers in the 2017/2018 season making almost $400 million in revenue.
Trim made the audience laugh when he spoke about his encounter with a former teacher from primary school while he was playing professionally. His story demonstrated how some people in TT only see sport as a hobby.
“I was talking to her on the phone and she said, ‘Oh my God Kibwe it’s been so long, how are you? Where have you been? What have you been doing?’ I said ‘Miss I am a professional basketball player.’ I literally felt the tone of the conversation go from excitement to...what?
“I am from my San Juan, at that point I was probably making a couple hundred thousand dollars US per year and life was pretty okay. I said to her ‘Miss I am going alright.’ She said, ‘Well if you are happy.’”
Kibwe also said preparation is key. “We are not only talking about spending time and money on actually making sure their athletes hone their skills, but we are also talking about things like physical therapy, acupuncture, nutrition. Your body is the machine that fuels the sport.”
Trim said at college in the US he trained six hours a day and as a professional eight hours per day, which was far superior to training in Trinidad.
The third component Trim believes is important in sport is branding. “LA Lakers is a brand, Boston Celtics is a brand, Duke University Blue Devils is a brand, TT Soca Warriors is a brand. The brand is how sporting organisations identify themselves. Organisations spend millions of dollars on their marketing department to make sure that their brand is refined. Their brand communicates to the investors, to the sponsors, their brand brings in the community that supports them so branding is very important as far as the influence in profitability.”
Brothers Israel and Zion Nicholas at the end of Trim’s presentation got the DreamChaser International Foundation scholar athlete of the year 2020 awards.