Suggestions for Sport Ministry

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Recently the Minister of Sport spoke out on the turmoil within the Cycling Federation and the controversial Home of Football. Maybe she was not aware, but these problems didn’t happen overnight. I still applaud her for speaking out on National Sporting Organization’s (NSO’s), some which are in ‘unhealthy’ positions; be it increasing debt, unconstitutional operation, lack of transparency, accountability and poor policy/planning. I stand corrected but the collective debt of our 30+ plus NSO’s is exorbitant.

Football alone is 50 million, recently revealed by new TTFA President Wallace.

While the Minister’s criticism is justified, she mentions government cannot directly intervene in domestic affairs of NSOs, but gives her government’s commitment to financially assist NSO’s with international travel and competition.

Herein lies a major problem, since being outspoken does not change or correct the culture/ practices within most NSO’s, neither is or has anyone been held or charged with mismanagement in our land of unaccountability.

Unhealthy NSO’s will unlikely attract persons willing to take the stress and beating to clear debt.

Unhealthy NSO’s cannot produce their best results and are likely to keep accumulating debt.

This debt puts strain on the owed businesses, and can lead to the business being downsized or closed down, in addition to the mental stress, anxiety and stagnation of being owed.

The ripple effect is less money in taxes, decrease linkage economies and unemployment. The downward spiral of the NSO leads to the shrinking of the sport and less opportunities for athletes.

Persons responsible are voted out the NSO, the debts (mess) now fall on the shoulders of new leadership but in reality, it gets pushed down the road instead of being solved.

Since the government, I mean taxpayers, remain the largest supporters and funders of NSO’s, I think the narrative needs to be creatively improved to bring about needed change.

I am not privy to the Sport Ministry’s operations, but given their access to state resources, more can be tried.

My suggestions which require little effort are: i. Work with the Ministry of Labour & Enterprise to take a cadre of OJT students with Accounting, Sport Management and Business qualifications and place them in NSO’s with the Ministry of Sport being the superior they report to, ii. Ensure all NSO’s are compliant, annually audited, transparent, term limits, host fixed date elections and have realistic financial undertakings. Without the above, the Ministry must flag the NSO (directors) and stop all support, including any other state support (eg NLCB, FCB, NGC, OPM) iii. Set up a Ministry Committee with the Fraud Squad, where annual review is consistent so persons serving/responsible for NSO’s can be easily observed, and irregularities and whistleblowing is made an option instead of looking away, cover ups or claiming ignorance.

With billions spent on physical Facilities, with close to $100 Million in Life Sport paid off (despite no arrests but waved on the campaign trail), with no other major sport contributor in this sluggish economy, now presents an opportune time to bring NSO’s under more rigid structure, where policy keeps accountability, debt nominal, decisions practical and dishonesty minimal.

This will help lay a better foundation for sport development and by extension athletes.

Healthy NSO’s can be a boost to the country, communities, the Government and Ministry of Sport.

Nicholas Lochan