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'OUR SPORT IS IN PROBLEMS': NAAA president Ephraim Serrette


Serrette expecting drop in athlete numbers

Go Back : Express : Kwame Laurence : 07.10.2020

National Association of Athletics Administrations (NAAA) president, Ephraim Serrette is expecting "a huge fallout" from Covid-19.

We could see a drop in participation numbers, Serrette told the Express. "Less athletes transitioning from juniors to seniors, and even some seniors leaving the sport."

The NAAA boss said his organisation is keen to keep the interest in athletics here in Trinidad and Tobago alive.

"We're trying to develop a video with the instructions coaches would normally give when they go into schools for the Kids' Athletics programme. With the support of NGC (National Gas Company), etcetera, this initiative could be beneficial in schools in the areas where school supervisors allow us.

Our sport is in problems,"" Serrette continued. ""And schools too. I hope people are doing data collection during Covid that can be analysed. This is a critical time of development in a child's brain, and we'll only see the true effect three to four years down the road. I'm sorry for my grandson and those in that age-group."""

The Covid-19 pandemic has impacted on the pockets of T&T's elite athletes. With little or no opportunities to compete in 2020, income has been limited or non-existent. Serrette, who also serves as a vice president of the T&T Olympic Committee (TTOC), said efforts have been made to ease the financial pain of the country's top athletes.

"TTOC had developed a Covid grant to assist athletes, similar to what World Athletics would have done. It was eventually modified to ensure that all athletes have the opportunity for assistance.

If an athlete is sponsored,"" Serrette explained, ""getting elite funding, or has Olympic Solidarity or Panam Sports support, he or she would have been eliminated in a sense to accommodate those with no support. But now, an athlete could justify getting the grant based on day to day information provided."""

The NAAA is currently preparing for its November 28 Annual General Meeting (AGM). At a General Council meeting, on Saturday, a decision was taken to defer the election of officers to the 2021 AGM.

The 2020 AGM will be conducted virtually, said Serrette, "with all reports including presentation of audited statements. Elections were deferred because of the Covid restrictions."

Serrette is uncertain if he will bid for re-election, next year.

"Based on the new constitution, I can serve another term as president. We have an ageing board, and I was one who pushed for term limits. But in hindsight I realise why people like Alloy Lequay served for so long. A lot of the young people are not committed. This is free work. While we want other people to come on board, they have to be committed.

For a long time we have been trying to get people on photo finish. But when you come to a meet, you come to work. Most people want to come and watch the meet. Also, you have to study the sponsors,"" Serrette ended, ""who build relationships with individuals and not organisations."""