THE decision by Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar to remove the multi-million-dollar LifeSport programme from the Ministry of Sport is a blessing, Sport Minister Anil Roberts said yesterday.
Roberts said he endorsed the move of the Prime Minister and believes the programme he established two years ago had simply graduated.
Speaking with members of the media following a topping-off ceremony at the National Velodrome Project in Couva, Roberts said Persad-Bissessar consulted with him before moving the programme to the Ministry of National Security.
“I endorse the move by the Prime Minister. She consulted with me and I am totally happy. I believe my programme has graduated. It is an absolutely perfect fit. The LifeSport programme was a brainchild of Anil. It was born from the desire to help young black boys come off the streets, come off the crime and stop killing themselves. It is for those who were not academically inclined.
“Those who did not fall into the vocational programmes, those who didn’t want to do manual labour in URP and CEPEP. The LifeSport programme was engendered to encourage their participation through the beauty of sport, the passion of sport,” he said.
Roberts said participants in the programme received a stipend to change their lifestyle.
He said over the past two years the LifeSport programme recorded many successes.
“It has moved from a small programme in ten communities, now it is in 40 communities with 21 more communities waiting for it. The LifeSport programme is an anti-crime initiative and it is indeed a pleasure and privilege that the Prime Minister has moved the LifeSport programme into the Ministry of National Security where there are greater avenues for organisational structure for the programme to blossom, bloom and move forward. It is a perfect fit,” he said.
Roberts said already 120 participants have moved on to different levels of tertiary education, including the Christian International Academy in New York.
Asked if he was concerned that more programmes would be removed from his ministry, Roberts said, “The scrutiny is very good...once you are involved in public funds and programmes scrutiny is fantastic. There is a probe from the Ministry of Finance. I welcome the probe. This is what it is about...nothing is wrong with a probe.”
And although he spoke at length on the successes of the LifeSport programme, Roberts dismissed questions regarding a video showing a man resembling a Government Minister partying with ganja and women first shown by TV6 and now circulating on social media.
Instead, Roberts raised questions about People’s National Movement (PNM) political leader Dr Keith Rowley and the party’s public relations officer Faris Al-Rawi.
Roberts questioned Al-Rawi’s plans to finance his campaign in the San Fernando West constituency in the next general election. And he asked whether Al-Rawi’s family was willing to return taxpayers’ money they received as rental for property under the PNM.
He also asked whether Rowley was prepared to answer allegations made against him back in Tobago in 1969, adding that when Rowley is ready to take a DNA “paternity test” he (Roberts) would take a drug test.
“The video is in the hands of the lawyers. I will not be distracted by video, music video or voodoo. We are heading into election year and I will not be distracted by anything,” he said yesterday.
Roberts said he would be willing to answer all questions and undergo a drug test in full view of the media, if Rowley stood next to him and answered the allegations made against him.