THE EDITOR: On August 8, Jabloteh Sports Club sent its under-13 football players to Costa Rica to represent TT in the Concacaf Under-13 Champions League.
To get to Costa Rica with the appropriate gear, the club sought donations from parents and corporations in TT. After failing to get the required funding, the club’s manager had to pay for the travel kits and airline tickets for some members of the technical team, using his personal credit card.
This course of action by members of the sporting fraternity in TT is commonplace. In many of the sporting disciplines there is a dearth of equipment, facilities and finance.
Against this background many in the business community and the Government fail to recognise how critical it is to contribute to sports.
Our young people are struggling to find their place in this confused society. Some are told that their race, their education level, their propensity to embrace belligerence and their community are factors that contribute to the high level of criminal activity in the country.
Some members of society see punitive measures, tough laws and incarceration as the solution to increased levels of criminality among the youths. They complain of the attraction to gang activity and gun violence without seeing the failure of the society to provide viable alternatives to crime.
I am personally aware of many ordinary people who sacrifice their time and money to facilitate sports in their community. There are coaches, parents and support personnel who daily contribute their time and money for food, uniforms, equipment and facilities to provide sporting opportunities for our children. For some this is their life’s legacy and their names are synonymous with their community’s sporting endeavours. They remain our unsung heroes.
Some are threatened by gang leaders who see their activities as competing with theirs. Their number one complaint is the lack of support from the Government and the business community.
If TT is to make a serious effort to reduce criminal activity in our communities, there must be a concerted effort to support alternative activities to crime. Sports is one avenue that is open for immediate action.
The Government has a responsibility to provide attractive incentives for businesses to sponsor and contribute to sports and cultural activities. The present structure of a minimal tax credit after making a major contribution to sports is unattractive to businesses. The total dependence on government for financial support of sport activities is also not sustainable.
There must be co-operation and collaboration that lead to the business community’s participation in the management and financing of our pansides, our cultural dance and drama groups and sports at all levels.
Only when all in our society play their part in the restructure of our communities and the provision of opportunities for our young people will we see the required decrease in criminal activities in TT.
political leader, DPTT