As TT continues to gradually lift its public covid19 restrictions, national athletes are gearing up for an anticipated return to elite training.

With the Tokyo Olympic Games just eight months away and a packed schedule of regional and international tournaments scheduled for early 2021, athlete-preparation remains top priority.

This was the sentiment shared by Minister of Sport and Community Development Shamfa Cudjoe during a meeting of the nation’s top sport administrators at the ministry’s Nicholas Tower office, in Port of Spain, on Monday.

“Preparedness must be high on our agenda for sport. As such, we need to address the issues that directly and indirectly affect our athletes especially as we re-strategise to get them back into training,” said Cudjoe.

Also present at Monday’s meeting were Sport Company of TT (SporTT) CEO Jason Williams and chairman Douglas Camacho, TT Olympic (TTOC) president Brian Lewis and National Association of Athletics Administrations (NAAA) president Ephraim Serrette.

Cudjoe was supported by the ministry’s permanent secretary Angela Edwards and acting director of physical education and sports Patrice Charles.

During his address to the minister and other sporting administrators, Camacho said based on the SporTT’s analysis and trajectory, most sporting facilities are ready for athletes to return but with very strict protocols for use.

He said use of the facilities will be properly controlled and with processes and infrastructure in place for sanitisation.

As it relates to high-performance athletes, Camacho said SporTT continues to focus on offering services and support to them and intends to pay more attention to providing support in the area of sport psychology.

“We need to work with athlete right throughout their development, not just for tournaments,” he said.

Additionally, Lewis reminded members that even as they deliberate a return to sport and the revamping of TT’s sports calendar, attention must be placed on the impact of covid19 on the welfare, performance and health of all athletes.

He said, “We have an inherent responsibility to safeguard the health of athletes in our efforts to support their long term growth and career development.”

The meeting also discussed upcoming qualifiers, training programmes, and the administration of the Ministry’s Elite Athletes Assistance Programme (EAAP).

With the Olympics high on the agenda, Serrette spoke to the organisation’s development agenda and preparation for Carifta Games as a lead up to the 2021 Summer Games.

The NAAA president shared his organisation’s ongoing thrust to attract sponsorship from both the private and public sectors. He praised National Gas Company (NGC) for its continued support.

However, he indicated there was a need for other companies to come forward and partner given the potential of both the NAAA’s Youth Elite Athletes Programme and the Kids Athlete Programme.

Serrette was also pleased to see the merging of the sport portfolio with that of community development under one ministry. He reiterated the need for greater attention and investment in training coaches to support school and community programmes.

Minister Cudjoe commended Serrette for his service to the national sporting fraternity, and expressed the ministry’s commitment to working with the NAAA, TTOC and all sporting entities towards maximising the full potential of sport development in TT.