LAST WEEK’S removal of Dinath Ramnarine as the chairman of the Sports Company of TT (SporTT) continued the musical chairs at that beleaguered State institution. Whatever the facts behind the Cabinet’s move, the abrupt change did little to allay the perception of blight at what is supposed to be the key implementation arm of one of our most vital ministries, the Ministry of Sport and Youth Affairs.
It is the prerogative of the Cabinet and the line minister to appoint and remove officers. Indeed, without this oversight, there would be little to guarantee the interests of taxpayers who pump billions into special-purpose State companies.
But in the case of SporTT, the organisation has not settled down since the LifeSport scandal which brought down the then line Minister Anil Roberts and triggered lawsuits and police probes. For a moment, things looked to settle down with the appointment, under a new government, of former TT international cyclist Michael Phillips. But he quit suddenly in May last year, leading to Ramnarine’s appointment. Under Ramnarine, about half-dozen company officials were removed due to audits. Then, the line minister, Darryl Smith, was removed amid a sexual harassment scandal.
But SporTT has been a hotbed of controversy almost from day one, weathering a storm over its infamous $2 million flag. The company’s many public construction projects were also at the centre of the Udecott scandal. Little wonder the new chairman, Douglas Camacho, has had cause to lament the bad publicity that attends sport as a whole in this country. Will the introduction of a new Sports Commission really turn things around?
In this regard, while Camacho’s appointment does not come in ideal circumstances, it may yet prove an opportunity for sport administration in the country to stage a comeback. As the chairman of the committee appointed to look at the transition from the Sports Company to the envisioned commission, he may have the perspective necessary to make a difference. Certainly, he is on the right track when he suggests the need for stability.
With the 2020 and 2024 Olympics fast on the horizon, the State must ensure the proper systems and structures are in place to support our sportswomen and men.
Clearly, the appointment of sporting celebrities to senior posts is not the panacea. Rather, officials with expertise and wherewithal are needed.
The National Sport Policy of TT aims to enrich our lives through total participation and quality training and excellence in sport. But if the management problems at SporTT are not brought under control, they will only continue to stymie our sport and youth development.