The Ministry of Sport and Youth Affairs wishes to inform the public that Trinidad and Tobago's success at the international level, particularly in track and field, was one of the motivations behind the Elite Athlete Assistance Policy (EAAP) in 2006. The Cabinet-approved Policy led to a formal mechanism, using a tiered system, to contribute to the preparation and continued improvement of the country's multisport Games medallists and world-ranked athletes. The applications of teams and of athletes in non-Olympic sports are considered on a case-by-case basis to ensure that the financial support is available to a wide range of athletes who meet the criteria and have the potential to attain world-ranking or other benchmarks in their sport. There are currently 33 athletes in 8 disciplines on the EAAP roster, who have received funding for the last fiscal year 2015/16.
The Policy clearly states that the payment of grants are subject to the availability of funds in any given year. Despite this and other prevailing constraints, however, for the quadrennial period 2012-2016, the Ministry has disbursed in excess of TT$24m to athletes and teams in 13 disciplines. Predictably, and given the large number of elite athletes, Track and Field received 73% of that sum, followed by Cycling (8.1%) and Swimming (7.7%). Additionally, the Ministry also contributed TT$996,950.00 to the TTOC's Olympic Preparation Fund in 2016 which supported a pre-Olympic Camp.
Also in 2016, the Ministry's implementation arm, the Sports Company of Trinidad & Tobago (SporTT) assisted 11 Olympians in seven sports with direct reimbursement or payment of expenses (travel, accommodation, medical, coaching) to a total of just over TT$600,000. This does not include a range of free services which has been accessed by 135 plus athletes during 2015-16, such as psychology, nutrition, gym access, massage therapy and recovery, through its Elite Development & Performance Unit (EDPU).
Some of the notable athletes on the Programme for the period 2012-2016, would be Keshorn Walcott – 2012 Olympic Gold medallists and 2016 Olympic Bronze Medalist, Cleopatra Borel – 2016 Olympic shot put Finalist, Andrew Lewis, (Olympian) sailing, Richard Thompson, (Olympian) track and field, Christopher George, (Olympian) judo, Nigel Paul, (Olympian) boxing, Njisane Phillip, (Olympian) cycling, Chelsi Ward & Malika Davis (beach volleyball first time qualifying for Youth Olympics) and Nyoshia Cain, (Para-Olympian), track & field.
Both the respective National Governing Body (NGB) and Trinidad & Tobago Olympic Committee (TTOC) have a significant role in the EAAP disbursement process, as they are required to certify and endorse each application as well as recommend the disbursement in writing, as evidence that the athlete/team has fulfilled the requirements for funding. Among the requirements that ensure accountability and provide a monitoring gauge, are:
- Quarterly performance reports prepared by coaches/trainers
- Annual training schedules
- Quarterly tracking schedules prepared by coaches
- Financial statements supported by bills for funds previously accessed
- Medical fitness report
While most athletes are fully compliant, there are occasions where these documents are not forthcoming and impact on the timely processing of applications. Previously when faced with this type of incomplete application, the Ministry has sought to work with athletes to still facilitate funding to ensure that they are able to continue preparation for competition. Each athlete or their representative must sign a Service Level Agreement (SLA) which also details the monitoring procedures and criteria outlined above as well as the terms and conditions for a suspension or termination of further assistance.
The Ministry finds it regrettable that some athletes have decided to take to social media to air their concerns instead of seeking more details about how they can ensure compliance with the process to access elite funding, which has not changed since its inception.
Further, with the drafting and consultations for the National Sport Policy ongoing, the concept of elite funding and reward for athletic achievement will be included so as to formalise the Government's philosophy and approach to sporting excellence and to high performance sport.
The Minister of Sport and Youth Affairs would like to take this opportunity to encourage all persons interested in pursuing a career in athletics and reaffirms the Ministry's commitment to providing quality support in ensuring that Trinidad and Tobago attains the highest standard of athletes at the international level.
For your further information, the EAAP Policy and applications forms are available online: