In his Easter message to the nation, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley called on the citizens to put country before self and be prepared to make sacrifices and commit to work together in the spirit of co-operation and conciliation, rising above individualism and partisan interests. He made the point that what the citizens of the twin Island Republic should aim for is safe communities, a commitment to root out crime and criminality and an economically strong T&T.
In the face of perceptions that T&T is no longer safe and secure, is corrupt, replete with structural economic inequities, a lack of social justice and institutional and social neglect, the law abiding citizens are buffeted by an education system that is in urgent need of modernisation and a health system that is no longer fit for purpose. The perception of Joe and Jane Public is that T&T is not fair or equal and the poor, under privileged and vulnerable don’t stand a snow ball chance in hell. They have to suck salt and eat the bread the devil knead.
Simple things like making a report to the Police service is perceived as signing your death warrant while obtaining a driver’s permit is an alleged exercise in futility if the objective is to go through a process that doesn’t require a grease hand. Those who remain optimistic and hopeful will take comfort in the Prime Minister’s message. Jaded cynics may say they are empty words.
Meanwhile, the sporting fraternity continues to display unwavering patriotism, commitment and dedication to the red, white and black. Most times for little or no financial gain, the motivation is service to country — everything for which the Prime Minister Rowley has called.
Recognition and an acknowledgement is all that sport patriots ask for — representing TeamTTO is national service. Is expedited HDC housing consideration for those national athletes who have given long and meritorious service an unreasonable request?
They seek not to steal from the treasury in any form or fashion or to make crime a viable industry. Honest, law abiding and patriotic putting country before self, that’s how you can best describe T&T’s sportsmen and women. Sport has served and will continue to put country before self.
All the sport fraternity ask is that their contribution to the national cause is respected and acknowledged even as the potential of sport remains essentially untapped. All over the world great cities have used sport to regenerate social, community and economic activity.
Why not regenerate and revitalise East Port of Spain by building a multi-purpose facility that will become an iconic landmark and a tourist attraction such as Madison Square Garden, BC Place, Rogers Centre and Barclays Centre. Imagine it. A venue that host around 220 diverse event days a year including sports, entertainment, conferences, exhibitions. A sport anchored venue located in South Quay that integrates entertainment, commercial, retail and residential.
Instead of focusing on why we can’t achieve big goals such as 10 or more Olympic Gold medals by the year 2024 or a booming sustainable vibrant sport industry, let’s commit first, figure it out later and start before we are ready. Is sport an unnecessary expenditure or an investment in the human capital of T&T?
• Brian Lewis is president of the T&T Olympic Committee (TTOC). The views expressed are not necessarily those of the Olympic Committee. Support #10 Golds24 Athlete Welfare and Preparation Fund. Donations can be made at any branch of Scotiabank account number 171188.