ACTING president of the TT Table Tennis Association (TTTTA) Kevin Lewis said athletes should not have to source funding to represent this country. National player Brittany Joseph was forced to miss the 2021 Pan American Table Tennis Championships, in Lima, Peru because she was unable to raise the necessary funds.
Rheann Chung was the only TT athlete at the competition, on Saturday.
Chung was supposed to be joined by Joseph, but the latter could not raise the necessary funding.
The TTTTA, like many other local sporting bodies, has a shortage of funds and could not source all the funds for Chung and Joseph.
The TTTTA gave both players a percentage of the funding required, but only Chung was able to get the rest of the funds to travel.
“We gave the players endorsement letters to seek sponsors…Rheann Chung would have acquired her sponsors,” Lewis said.
Chung received funding from the Sport and Culture Fund and a corporate company.
Lewis is hoping that in the future table tennis athletes will not have to miss tournaments because of funding.
“We would have given some small contribution (towards the trip), nothing substantial…we had a cheque written for her (Joseph) but she did not access it because she realised she would not have been able to make the (full payment).
“I for one don’t like the idea of self-funding, athletes must just go and represent the country…if it’s one thing in my tenure as acting president we could achieve is getting the accounts healthy in the association so that when athletes have to go abroad they don’t have to study if they getting funding. That in itself is nonsense in my book.”
It’s a “disservice” to the athletes, said Lewis.
Lewis said it cost approximately $12,000 for each player to compete at the championships.
He used the example of national player Derron Douglas who is now in Germany after funding his trip.
“We as an association supposed to be able to send players abroad…as it stands now players have to dig in their pockets and go and that’s because we don’t have that kind of funding to really run the affairs properly.”
The Ministry of Sport and Community Development wants all sporting bodies to be transparent which includes doing regular financial audits.
Lewis said previously run table tennis associations did not have their “books up to standard” to access funding.
With more financial support Lewis believes TT table tennis players will reach greater heights.
“Once we get that financial support we will do plenty better.”
Lewis said the association is aiming to raise funds for the athletes.
At the championships, Chung lost a seven-game thriller to Argentine Ana Codina 7-11, 12-10, 6-11, 7-11, 11-8, 11-3, 4-11 in the round of 32.
Before that match, Chung won her round of 64 contest over Colombian Juliana Lozada 11-4, 12-10, 11-9, 11-9.