Triple gold medal­list cy­clist Nicholas Paul along with fel­low cham­pi­ons, javelin throw­er Keshorn Wal­cott and shot put­ter Cleopa­tra Borel at the Cen­tral Amer­i­can and Caribbean (CAC) Games, were among a group of ath­letes that were pre­sent­ed their re­wards promised by the Min­is­ter of Sport and Youth Af­fairs for their re­cent suc­cess­es.

TT$5 mil­lion was dis­trib­uted to na­tion­al ath­letes yes­ter­day at a func­tion host­ed by the Min­is­ter of Sport and Youth Af­fairs, Sham­fa Cud­joe at the Na­tion­al Rac­quet Cen­tre in Tacarigua where the min­is­ter used the op­por­tu­ni­ty to of­fi­cial­ly launch the Na­tion­al Pol­i­cy on Sport 2017 – 2027.

It was done in the pres­ence of a num­ber of sport­ing dig­ni­taries in­clud­ing T&T’s first Olympic gold medal­list Hase­ly Craw­ford, world bat­ting cham­pi­on Bri­an Lara and tal­ent­ed foot­baller Rus­sell Lat­apy, who were each pre­sent­ed a copy of the 64-page pol­i­cy.

“Sports have the pow­er to change the world. It has the pow­er to in­spire, the pow­er to unite peo­ple in a way that lit­tle else does”. said Min­is­ter Cud­joe, quot­ing the for­mer fa­mous South African pres­i­dent Nel­son Man­dela.

“I am sur­round­ed by he­roes,” said Cud­joe, who al­so had the at­ten­tion of Min­is­ter of Ed­u­ca­tion An­tho­ny Gar­cia, Min­is­ter of So­cial De­vel­op­ment and Fam­i­ly Ser­vices Cher­rie-Ann Crichlow-Cock­burn and Lyn­dell Hoyte-Sanchez, Tech­ni­cal Di­rec­tor of Sport at the To­ba­go House of As­sem­bly (THA). “It is my priv­i­lege and plea­sure to be here to launch the Na­tion­al Pol­i­cy on Sports 2017-2027 as we recog­nise sport­ing ex­cel­lence with our na­tion­al ath­letes who would have medalled at the re­gion­al and in­ter­na­tion­al Games,

“The 2002 pol­i­cy fo­cused on the de­vel­op­ment of sport un­der two main ar­eas, to­tal par­tic­i­pa­tion in sport and high-per­for­mance sport. Though at the time the 2oo2 pol­i­cy was con­sid­ered to be holis­tic in its ap­proach to sports de­vel­op­ment, it was nev­er ful­ly im­ple­ment­ed.

“The na­tion­al pol­i­cy on sports 2017-2027 would have cap­i­talised on any de­fi­cien­cies iden­ti­fied with the pre­vi­ous pol­i­cy and rec­ti­fied. The new pol­i­cy adopts a com­pre­hen­sive and col­lab­o­ra­tive frame­work for ac­tion.”

Cud­joe promised that her min­istry will en­sure that all in­di­vid­u­als and in­sti­tu­tions re­spon­si­ble for ser­vic­ing the needs of the sport are equipped with the nec­es­sary skill and com­pe­ten­cies to ad­e­quate­ly do same. As­sur­ing that the sports min­istry will work with the rel­e­vant stake­hold­ers to­wards the de­vel­op­ment and im­ple­men­ta­tion of mar­ket­ing and busi­ness de­vel­op­ment plans for na­tion­al gov­ern­ing bod­ies.

She said: “We will es­tab­lish the sport­ing in­dus­try as a vi­able can­di­date for eco­nom­ic di­ver­si­fi­ca­tion by cap­i­tal­is­ing and max­imis­ing rev­enue gen­er­at­ing po­ten­tial and ca­pa­bil­i­ties. And es­tab­lish T&T as a re­gion­al de­vel­op­ment cen­tre for sport in the Eng­lish-speak­ing Caribbean Re­gion and cap­i­talise on ex­ist­ing sports in­fra­struc­ture and mar­ket them to the wider Caribbean.

Cud­joe al­so in­di­cat­ed that her min­istry wants to in­stall struc­tured phys­i­cal ed­u­ca­tion pro­grammes in pri­ma­ry and sec­ondary schools which re­ceived a rous­ing round of ap­plause from the au­di­ence which al­so in­clud­ed Com­mon­wealth cham­pi­on Jereem Richards, Sprint­er Kyle Greaux, hur­dler Rue­bin Wal­ters, box­er Nigel Paul, sprint­er Re­yare Thomas who col­lect­ed on be­half of the sil­ver-win­ning women’s re­lay team (Se­moy Hack­ett, Kali­fa St Fort, Za­kiya De­noon), mem­bers of both the men’s hock­ey team and the women’s vol­ley­ball team, both bronze medal­lists at the CAC Games in Bar­ran­quil­la, Colom­bia and Parath­letes Akeem Stew­art and Nyoshia Cain.

Denise Arneaud, deputy per­ma­nent sec­re­tary in the Min­istry of Sport, gave the open­ing re­marks while per­ma­nent sec­re­tary Nico­lette Duke pre­sent­ed an overview on the pol­i­cy.

Lat­er on, T&T Olympic Com­mit­tee (TTOC) pres­i­dent Bri­an Lewis and chair­man of the Sports Com­pa­ny of T&T, Dou­glas Co­ma­cho, ex­pressed their plea­sure in be­ing part of the process and Patrice Charles, Di­rec­tor Phys­i­cal Ed­u­ca­tion and Sport in the Sports Min­istry closed with a vote of thanks.

Cud­joe ad­vised that Cab­i­net ap­proved the re­ward of na­tion­al teams which cre­ate his­to­ry by qual­i­fy­ing for their re­spec­tive World Cups for the first time, like the women’s se­nior vol­ley­ball team, who will make their de­but at the World Women’s Vol­ley­ball Cham­pi­onships in Japan lat­er this year.

So ap­pre­cia­tive of the sup­port, the Renele Forde-led team pre­sent­ed Cud­joe with an au­to­graphed vol­ley­ball and to­ken of ap­pre­ci­a­tion to the Sports Min­is­ter.

En­ter­tain­ment in­clud­ed pan­nist Der­ron El­lies and singer Ne­hilet Black­man, who sang “Sweet Mu­sic” off her Lega­cy al­bum.