Sports Minister Darryl Smith wants a constitutional health check of all national sporting organisations (NSOs).

To achieve this, he has directed the legal team to lead heads of departments at the ministry in gathering and examining the constitutions of all national sporting organisations, in an effort to determine if these bodies were operating in a free and fair manner.    

His decision to undertake this exercise was a direct result of concerns raised by some members of the cricket fraternity about the questionable governance practices by the Trinidad and Tobago Cricket Board (TTCB) as allowed under the existing constitution.

The issue led to public spats between TTCB officials and their detractors, who accused officials on the board of using the delegate system to place a strangle hold on clubs to retain office and ultimately power. At yesterday’s special Annual General Meeting (AGM) held at the National Cricket Centre in Balmain, Couva, opponents of the board called for amendments to the constitution including the introduction of a one man one vote system. The T&T Guardian has learnt that motions tabled towards amending the constitution were defeated.     

In a direct effort to bolster the management of NSOs, Smith said he wanted public officers to acquire the constitutions of all the governing bodies to unearth trends and weaknesses. He wanted to: “see what is the trend, what is the common denominator. I also requested best practices throughout the world with regards to international governing bodies. How do they do their elections and stuff.”

Smith continued, “The People’s National Movement, the party that I am from and I am proud to be a part of, we recently under Dr (Keith) Rowley, the Prime Minister, made major changes towards the one man one vote (system). It is the more democratic, transparent way. I as minister don’t want to get heavily involved with the running of the NGOs. But again, we are working together in a partnership, where we (are) funding and giving advice and our job is to look over sport in T&T.”

Asked if state enterprises namely the National Gas Company of T&T and the National Lotteries Control Board should provide financial assistance to the TTCB which was reported to have a structure that was undemocratic, the minister did not respond directly.

“I think the Cricket Board knows T&T is watching. I am happy that the board is having this dialogue. It shows maturity. As a minister of sport, I think that the democracy and the democratic process of the constitution with regard to the elections have to be ventilated and looked at. In its current stage, there are some issues, but again, let them talk it out. I agree that changes need to be made in terms of it being more transparent.”

No official from the ministry of sport attended Saturday’s AGM said Smith.

Not even in an observer capacity, he declared. In his view, the ministry of sports had become too involved in the day-to-day operations of NSOs.

“The accounts department (is) getting quotes for trips and cutting cheques! They (are) not doing the ministry’s work anymore. They (are) doing NSO work. The ministry’s staff need to focus on the ministry, so we could better understand and be more efficient,” he said.