SPORT Minister Anil Roberts said yesterday the LifeSport programme is a “necessary initiative” which has already been successful in helping “young black men” in this country “put down the gun”.
Roberts made the statements during his contribution to a motion moved by the Member of Parliament for Diego Martin North/East asking that the House censure the Minister of Sport for facilitating, through the LifeSport programme, the funding of criminals and criminal enterprise.
Roberts urged people to stop spreading untruths about the LifeSport programme.
One of the situations Roberts sought to clarify was the alleged involvement of a recent murder victim in the LifeSport programme.
Four days after it was disclosed in an article in the Sunday Express that he was the personal security guard of Ruth Marchan, deputy director of Physical Education and Sport at the Ministry of Sport, 42-year-old Curtis Gibson was shot dead at his Malabar home.
Roberts said there was “no link whatsoever” between Gibson and the LifeSport programme.
“Mr Curtis Gibson did not work for LifeSport in any form or fashion whatsoever at any point in time, previously, now, and definitely not in the future. He was not linked with the programme in any way whatsoever,” Roberts said. “So every comment made by Diego Martin North/East (Colm Imbert) to make a case of criminality and murder is absolutely untrue,” he said.
Roberts read a media release from the Public Transport Service Corporation (PTSC), which stated Gibson had been employed at the corporation for 12 years.
“Mr Gibson, who was unfortunately murdered yesterday, was not ever associated with LifeSport in any form or fashion whatsoever. He is a member for 12 years at the PTSC, so God rest his soul. Please tell the truth, do not start to accuse and create a furore,” he said.
Roberts also read a release from LifeSport, which stated links attributed to Gibson and the programme were “erroneous, inaccurate and absolutely misleading”.
He also slammed Imbert for casting aspersions against people who may have had a checkered past for trying to change their life.
Roberts said if the People’s National Movement is saying ex-convicts should not be given a chance to work, then former government minister Rennie Dumas must be fired from the Tobago House of Assembly (THA).
In 2013 Dumas, a former member of Parliament for Tobago East, was convicted of unlawfully and maliciously inflicting grievous bodily harm against Roger Simon and committing an act of common assault against Simon, a security officer.
Roberts said Dumas is currently employed at the THA making a salary of $60,000 a month.
“The programme is a fantastic programme to give young, poor, black people an opportunity to survive in the mainstream and move forward,” Roberts said.
Roberts said the Selwyn Ryan report spoke of the at-risk black male and the Life Sport programme was geared toward addressing this issue.
“It also speaks to sport being utilised to ensure that these young people are not thrown away, they are not killed, that they are not murdered, that they are not discarded by society, but that they are not thrown into boot camp,” Roberts said.
Roberts said the PNM did not care about the “young black people” in this country.
The PNM stands for the “People Never Matter”, Robert said.
“These criminals, as the PNM calls them, these criminals are being converted, brought into mainstream and that is a powerful programme. If they have any issues of accountability, of invoicing, of whatever, that will be dealt with. This is the fourth audit and we are proud of that. Why would you say having an audit is a bad thing?” he said.