CHANGE IS coming to the way sport is introduced and developed in the country, and the key element will not be the Sports Ministry, but rather the Ministry of Education. Speaking with Newsday yesterday afternoon, Minister of Sport Brent Sancho confirmed that there is to be a new approach in seeking sporting excellence from the country’s talented athletes in every sport, but he also emphasised that most of what is being contemplated is still in the early stages of planning.

It was previously reported that Sport Ministry personnel, including coaches and sport officers had already been transferred to the Ministry of Education, and that morale was low as a result. Minister Sancho admitted changes were in the making, but he denied any major move had yet been made, saying plans were still being discussed and formulated. “That is not yet decided, but logistically, we would want that (coaches etc going to the Education Ministry),” he said.

“Everything is still at the embryonic stage. Sometimes change would bring fears, anxieties... but we have to start somewhere.”

Sancho said the concept of Education taking over certain aspects of operations that normally fall under the purview of the Sports ministry was born out of the need to meet the country’s athletic talent at an earlier age. “We are on the cusp of a ground-breaking formula. Our objective is to get closer contact with primary school students to play more sport,” he said, adding that as a result, the youngsters would benefit from advanced training in their chosen disciplines.

Among the initiatives would be the development of coaching programmes that would take young athletes from primary to secondary school. “We are not catching the athletes at a young enough age, before they develop bad habits,” the minister explained. Sancho confirmed that as a result, there would eventually be a transfer of personnel to the Education Ministry, but the method was a long way from being worked out. “We got Cabinet approval to set up a steering committee to guide us through the process.” He also confirmed that a sporting academy was to be established; asked whether the University of Trinidad and Tobago would be involved, he answered, “It definitely won’t be part of UTT; it would be something separate and apart. How I envisage it, we would start at a very young age.” Sancho expressed his personal conviction that this is the way forward for the country’s sporting future. “We have to recognise that sport is now a legitimate career path,” he concluded.