WOMEN are being encouraged to find creative ways to generate revenue and manage their mental health amidst the pandemic.
These were the core sentiments shared at the fifth edition of the Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee (TTOC) and Commonwealth Games Association Advancing Women in Leadership webinar on Saturday.
The theme “Overcoming the economic financial challenges of covid19” was centred on coping with the pandemic and finding opportunities for athletes, particularly females, and people in the industry.
The virtual meeting saw women in sport and mental health share ideas and experiences on how they were able to adjust and transition their daily lives, occupations and sports to align with the pandemic.
Since covid19 hit in mid-March last year, many businesses were shut down for several months, sport is yet to fully resume and mental health cases in both males and females have increased.
As a mental health practitioner, panellist Alexandria Olton – a sport and exercise psychologist and director of Mindology Trinidad – said she observed throughout the pandemic that some people, mainly athletes, suffered a loss of identity.
“The similarities I have noticed as a mental health practitioner is a loss of identity, particularly for those who are in the sport industry as businesses and their income relies heavily on the practise and participation in sport.
“Who am I when I’m not able to train? Or when can I go on to the track? There was a frustration especially with younger athletes. The frustration to not even be able to exercise,” said Olton.
On dealing with some of these issues in addition to preparing for the Tokyo Games, Florida-based TT Olympic sprinter Kai Selvon had to think outside the box.
In February, during her intense Olympic prep, Selvon recognised her body began to feel the effects of her heavy training regime. She whipped up some of her mother’s delicious fruit and vegetable punch drink and used this to revitalise her body after training.
Soon after, her training partners joined in on these healthy alternative drinks and a couple of months later, Selvon began producing the punches, Chinky Punch, for sale in Florida.
In her video testimonial, Selvon said, “As a result of Chinky Punchy, people do not only get clearer skin or lose weight but it also gave them a healthier option for fast food on the go.
“We cater mostly for people who live a busy life because it’s a meal in a bottle. We also focus on the kids by giving them a delicious alternative for their fruits and vegetable intake.
“The idea came about through prayer and fast. It was something that was always in me but I didn’t really pay attention to it until this year when I was preparing for the Olympics,” she said.
The national sprinter also wrote a book Fit for the Fight outlining in detail, the many challenges athletes face before, during and after a competition. She said that the banner for success is not always a trophy or medal but sometimes overcoming small adversities.
Aquatic instructor and owner of Island Skippy Service Janine Winston, said that she also suffered a loss of income and even a bit of depression during the pandemic. With businesses and all sport training prohibited owing to covid19, Winston said she found herself “in a very dark place.”
However, she began joining specific online webinars which focused on meditation, strength training and different types of yoga.
“These Zoom classes helped me. Depression is real. If you need help, talk to someone and reach out to people,” she urged online viewers.
TTOC president Brian Lewis said this session could not have come at a more relevant time as the nation prepares for the government’s budget presentation on Monday.
He said the topic of overcoming the economic and financial challenges of covid19 is one where people will have very different thoughts, ideas, approaches and considerations.
Lewis commended the initiative which was designed to support athlete development and growth of the sport industry in TT, and the Caribbean, by creating platforms and spaces where they can discuss and find solutions to issues that affect the athletes and industry.
Also chiming in on Saturday was Minister of Sport and Community Development Shamfa Cudjoe and panellists such as International Women’s Group chairwoman Pauline Harrison and chair of Pan Am Sports Women’s Commission Alicia Masoni de Morea.