Toyota Trinidad and Tobago Limited (TTTL) will invest at least $750,000 over the next five years into the Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee’s (TTOC) #10golds24 Athlete Welfare and Preparation Fund.

The local branch of the world renowned automotive company will also pair with the TTOC to provide internships in human resources, public relations, communications and sales for athletes, ongoing training and education and will be the official vehicle and mobility partner of the TTOC. Toyota is also expected to assist with certain TTOC promotional and advertising initiatives.

TTOC president Brian Lewis and TTTL marketing manager Sean Shaffie made the announcement of the five-year deal that will extend to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics at Olympic House on Abercromby Street yesterday. Toyota also presented the first cheque of $150,000 to #10golds24 Athlete Welfare and Preparation Fund.

Lewis revealed that in March this year, the Japan-based Toyota Motor Corporation, the parent company signed an historic US$835 million agreement with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to become a top partner with the IOC until 2024. The deal gives Toyota rights in Japan until the end of 2016 but then exclusive worldwide rights with the IOC starting from 2017.

Lewis described that the IOC usually return 90 % of the revenue generated back to sport development and NOCs across the globe. “What would usually happen is even though you may have a worldwide partner it doesn’t necessarily mean in the domestic market there is a sign-on market. It usually happens in bigger NOCs, not usually in smaller NOCs, so Toyota T&T signing on to be a partner complements, so to speak, what is happening on worldwide basis but is a landmark deal for the TTOC and we would like to congratulate and welcome them on board,” he said.

Besides the $150,000 contribution to the Fund, Toyota has also agreed to offer internships to suitable athletes selected by TTOC and to offer ongoing training and education opportunities.

“To be fair to our other corporate sponsors, there is an ongoing emphasis in all our negotiations now in terms of actioning our athlete-centred approach from a strategic perspective. That component is very important and I acknowledge Toyota for agreeing to that,” Lewis said.

Shaffie said TTTL was forward-thinking and thus decided to jump in on Olympic support 12 months ahead of their parent company.

“Starting today, we will be supporting our local Olympic contingent via the TTOC in readiness for the Olympic Games in 2020, not only because our parent company is an official Olympic sponsor but it is part of our burning desire to coordinate and contribute to Olympic success for our very own athletes,” Shaffie stated.

Lewis underlined the importance of brand recognition and value to wooing corporate sponsors. Saying that the TTOC benefited from association with the iconic brand of the IOC, he said national sporting organisations (NSOs) also had to improve their brand to attract commercial investment and to show they can reciprocate in the relationship.

“It is also about the ability of the brand you are associating with to drive sales,” Lewis commented, “I am saying this because we hear a lot from NSOs about why corporate T&T is not coming on board. Maybe it is because the brand needs to be looked at, maybe we are unable to convince corporate T&T that we can help create a win-win, not only help them meet their corporate social responsibility ambitions but to drive sales.”

Lewis added that NSOs needed to get accustomed to that reality as he recognised the timely intervention of TTTL’s investment following T&T’s record Pan Am Games medal haul of three gold, three silver and two bronze.