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Boxing gets SPORTT help for national championships

By John Young

"DEVELOPMENT OF THE YOUTH" was the collective theme of the Trinidad and Tobago Boxing Board of Control (TTBBC), Trinidad and Tobago Amateur Boxing Association (TTABA), and the Sport Company of Trinidad and Tobago (SPORTT) officials who jointly hosted a media conference yesterday at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, Mucurapo, to launch the 2013 National Boxing Championships.

Traditionally held every January, the National Championships will be held towards the end of the month, spanning five days from January 30 to February 3, at the Woodbrook Youth Facility.

The event, according to TTABA president, Cecil Forde, "will cost $200,000" to stage, and while expressing his gratitude to SPORTT for pledging monetary assistance, he called on the corporate sector to come forward and also offer financial help.

At a press conference at the Hasely Crawford Stadium yesterday, Rixon Powder, sport services officer of SPORTT, said the organisation had committed $70,000 to the TTABA to assist in the staging of the Championships, but added that SPORTT could not do it all and echoed Forde's call for participation from the private sector. Powder also presented representatives of the TTABA with gym gear and equipment, donated by SPORTT, to aid in the youth programmes already in operation across various communities.

The Championships later this month will result in the selection of national teams to represent T&T at regional and international tournaments later this year, as well as the 2014 CAC and Commonwealth Games.

Forde revealed that the TTABA had a "four-year development programme targetting, male and female, junior (15-16 yrs), youth (17-18 yrs), and elite (seniors 19-35 yrs)" age groups.

He emphasied that, "2013 would be more about (local) development of young talent, and less about travelling abroad." He also said the TTABA was now back functioning under the umbrella of SPORTT, as it had previously, prior to operating independently in recent times.

Forde also said a National Schools Assessment Programme is set to commence from January 19, in 21 schools nationwide, with the aim of identifying young talent, primarily in the primary schools. Forde, however, made clear that in this programme, the focus would be on the rudiments of boxing-- stance, skipping, hitting the punching bag, etc, and would not involve actual combat.

Meanwhile, special adviser to the TTBBC, Boxu Potts, issued a challenge to the local coaches. He implored them to work hard for the development of the sport long term. And he made clear his wish to see a possible 12-man team flying the national flag at the 2016 Olympics in Brazil, one which could potentially provide at least four medal prospects.

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