The National Gas Company (NGC) is pumping $12 million into the National Association of Athletics Administratons (NAAA) while NAAA president Ephraim Serrette mentioned the organisation is to introduce a board of directors by 2016.

NGC vice-president Finance and Management, Anand Ragbir, made the announcement of the deal at the VIP lounge of the Hasely Crawford Stadium yesterday. It will see the NAAA boosted by $4million annually over the next three years (2015-2017).

The sum represents a substantial increase from last year’s deal in which NGC contributed $2.3 million to the NAAA.

The funds are targetted at a kids athletic programme—similar to the NGC Right on Track programme of previous years)—developmental meets, participation and representation for international meets (for example Penn Relays, World Youth Championship, Pan Am Juniors and Pan Am Games) and capacity building which includes coaching courses and certification, club administration and management courses and officials training.

“NGC is meticulous in ensuring that funds donated through our programme are allocated in such a way as to ensure the best return on investment. We are satisfied, in fact, we rare very pleased that our sponsorship is aligned to the NAAA’s strategic plan 2012-2016,” Ragbir said, adding that the NAAA plan describes three priorities which are a good fit for NGC’s policy.

Ragbir said the first priority is improving governance, which he says will take place through constitutional reform and accountability in the management of athletics clubs.

Secondly the NAAA members will focus on operational effectiveness by increasing manpower and organisational restructuring.

Thirdly the NAAA will move towards developing corporate and other partnerships, leading to greater sustainability and improved financial independence.

“All of these goals are being sought in the context of the upcoming Olympic Games in Brazil next year, where we expect to see the fruits of our labours proudly on display on the international stage. No pressure,” Ragbir quipped.

“We would love to really thank the NGC for this intervention and I must say it is going to take us a long way , “ said Serrette, who had earlier recognised the NAAA for the First Citizens Sport Foundation Best Administration award. “The Association is on a new pathway with respect to restructuring and the whole reform of the constitution and to operate as a company, as a board and in order to do that you need to have some sort of sustainability to attract the skill set that would be necessary for us to function in such a manner. So an intervention like this over a three-year period would definitely be something good for the NAAA.”

Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee (TTOC) president Brian Lewis hailed the relationship between the NAAA and the NGC.

Lewis noted that athletics and track and field had contributed 14 of the 18 Olympic medals T&T have won in their history of participation in the quadrennial Games. And the former Harvard rugby player suggested the sport had not been given its just desserts.

“Of the three sports that have guided this country to Olympic medals-athletics, weight-lifting and swimming, two have never had the opportunity to have a state of the art, world class facility and a training centre so that those sports could have built on their Olympic medals - weight-lifting and athletics,” he said , adding that the country also has not seen it fit to establish a galleria where T&T’s Olympic medalists and history can be seen.

“Of the 200-plus participants in Olympic history, over 150 of them have come from athletics and the question to be asked is why is track and field and athletics not given the respect it deserves given its Olympic record and track record,” Lewis said.

Track and field clubs were also given racing blocks, relay batons and stop watches as part of the NGC package deal.