SPORTS minister Shamfa Cudjoe has hailed the nation’s sportsmen as true ambassadors who unite the citizenry and generate optimism and hope when times get tough.
The Tobago West MP made the remarks at a celebratory function on Monday for the Trinidad and Tobago Under-19 team, the recently crowned Cricket West Indies Under-19 champions of the three-day competition.
Apart from the prestigious title, TT, led by Cephas Cooper, also placed a close second in the limited-overs format of the annual regional tournament.
In paying glowing tribute to the young cricketers, Minister Cudjoe, who was warmly welcomed to the National Cricket Centre at Balmain said the timing of the Under-19 event was appropriate, coming after the Trinbago Knight Riders successfully retained the Caribbean Premier League crown by defeating Guyana’s Amazon Warriors in the final at the Brian Lara Stadium in Tarouba.
She saluted the cricketers for playing with their hearts and soul in St Vincent and the Grenadines to bring honour and recognition to TT. She said they demonstrated discipline and dedication which showed they were well-trained and prepared for the task.
She singled out coach of the team David Furlonge and manager Kerwin John, whom she described as a friend from Tobago, while congratulating the parents of the young men for staying on board with the TT Cricket Board and other stakeholders.
“We know you operate in a time when resources are hard. And to the TTCB, your strength and resilience is remarkable. This has been a trying year for the TTCB and for cricket in Trinidad and Tobago.
“I came into this position as Minister of Sport and Youth Affairs in April and people in different corners were trying to give me their opinion by suggesting what my relationship with the TTCB should be.
“And I would say quite categorically, ‘I am here as minister to provide guidance, assistance, direction to the national governing bodies for sport under my remit, and treat everybody fairly. And I would take my time to know my people to interact with them accordingly,” said Cudjoe.
She said her relationship with the TTCB has so far been harmonious and she intends to keep it that way in serving, and providing assistance without fear or favour.
“It is easy to become despondent and disappointed and ‘pop down’ as the young people would say when you hear all what some say. But you have a duty, and work to do to promote sport development in Trinidad and Tobago, develop cricket and continue to make a difference in the lives of the young men of the Under-19 team and beyond.”
She said despite off-field issues in cricket, the U-19 men were able to perform well.
“Despite what everybody has to say and despite the drama and confusion, you went out there, worked hard, brought the trophy home through your effort and the hard work of the TTCB,” said Minister Cudjoe.
She also sounded a hopeful sign for the financially strapped TTCB by indicating that a better fiscal year could be in store when the 2018-2019 budget is read in Parliament shortly.