President of the Trinidad and Tobago Cricket Board Azim Bassarath pleaded yesterday with Government to include more funding for members of the national senior cricket team, as he said cricket was the only sport bringing so much happiness to their countrymen.
And he also asked for the Ministry of Sport to get involved in negotiating that this country's has its best team available for the Champions League in India later this year.
At the VIP Lounge of the Piarco International Airport, Bassarath, who returned with the victorious T&T team yesterday from St Lucia, first congratulated the local cricketers for picking themselves up after the disappointment of an early departure from last year's Champions League competition in South Africa.
But he soon got to the meat of his address.
"For the past two years that we went to the Champions League, T&T didn't have their best players available. This year 2013 I want to ask for the assistance of the Government that these representations have to be made to the IPL people in India. Then what I think we should do is that as early as possible put something in place where we can negotiate with the personnel of the Indian Premier League, asking and begging and requesting that we have available to us all our international stars," Bassarath said.
Bassarath said 2013 will be the last time that T&T will be playing as a nation in Champions League because of the impending Caribbean Premier League scheduled to start next year.
"We should leave no stone unturned to make sure that we have our best team available for the 2013 Champions League. If we have to travel before the tournament, as I said before, we should travel and we will be begging the Government in that regard," he said.
Bassarath said he had heard that that the Elite Assistance Programme (EAP) for cricketers was being squashed and he wanted to make a special appeal to Minister of Sport Anil Roberts, who was in Tobago yesterday for the THA elections, and SPORTT (Sport Company of T&T), to restart that programme.
"The only sporting organisation that in this country is bringing so much of hapiness and glad tidings to the people of this country is cricket. We shoud do whatever that is necessary to ensure we show and give support to our national cricketers," he said, adding that every single player on the national senior team and even some other fringe players should receive EAP funding.
"We would like to work together with the Ministry of Sport to make sure that we continue to bring this great happiness to the people of Trinidad and Tobago," he said.
When Anthony Creed, executive manager, sport development and performance of SPORTT spoke, he said the TTCB had been given $3 million for their elite programmes and sport developments in addition to $4 million in elite assistance to players last year.
"You will have to talk to the Ministry of Sport about further funding of EAP," he said to Bassarath.