The Trinidad and Tobago Hockey Board (TTHB) are appealing to corporate Trinidad and Tobago to fill a $200,000 hole in their budget for the current Fourth Women’s Pan American Cup in Mendoza, Argentina.
That’s about 40 per cent of the cost of the entire tour—estimated at $500,000. The competition runs from today until next Saturday.
TTHB vice president Garth Baptiste and assistant treasurer/national team administrator Cindy Martin-Faustin also appealed for more dialogue with the Ministry of Sport and SPORTT (Sports Company of T&T) to iron out some misunderstandings.
But as the team prepared to take on the number two world ranked Argentinian team at 8 p.m. TT time (9 p.m. Argentina) in their opening match, TTHB executive members, accompanying family and friends are dipping into their pockets to provide meals for the team.
The $200,000 shortfall represents 70 per cent of their accommodation and meals for the 18 players and six technical officials. The TTHB raised $300,000 that catered for airfare and a deposit of 30 per cent of the accommodation.
“We want to appeal to corporate T&T because our team is across there, literally without funds. We went through a similar situation with the Men’s team and the Ministry of Sport came in and helped us out...the women are now there and we were able to get funds from T&T for tickets,” Martin-Faustin said, adding that the Ministry has informed TTHB that they have exhausted their budget for the year.
Baptiste said there was a culture of “bandwagonism”, where people jump on board after national athletes and teams succeed.
“What people don’t appreciate is it takes a lot of financial and human resource assistance to get these teams to the standard at which they have to compete. We on the hockey board, our teams are at the third tier, we have surpassed our Caribbean rivals, and we are competing internationally and holding our own internationally. It takes a lot of resources to not only get there but to maintain our position, he said, adding that both women’s and men’s senior national teams are consistently ranked within the top 30 in the world.
Asked about the Ministry’s rebuttal that the funding for the FIH World League hosted last November was to come out of the TTHB budget, Baptiste said: “I really don’t know where that came from. We are a very responsible body, one of (the) top administrations, and we would not commit to such an enterprise without having the backing of the Government.”
Martin-Faustin said the TTHB did not cater for the FIH League to come out of their subvention and that caused a huge shortfall.
“But I have no intention of being in any battle with the Ministry of Sport or SPORTT. They have supported us because they supported us with the men. Right now it is not profiting hockey. It is not adding to the sport for these sorts of fights to be going on between the Ministry of Sport and TTHB. It is not helping our youngsters and even our seniors out there. We are all appealing for the betterment of the sport, which is hockey,” Martin-Faustin said.
Asked what the TTHB is doing to prevent a recurrence of the last-minute rush for funding for the next budgeted year, Baptiste said it is an ongoing discussion, as one of their mandates was to become a self sufficient organisation.
He said the reality, though, is that certain sports get preference from corporate T&T and programmes to develop and maintain the national squads are costly.
Martin-Faustin hopes opening the channels of communication can redound to the benefit of the sport.
“I think dialogue, there is a lot of misunderstanding between the TTHB, SPORTT and the Ministry of Sport, and I think if we continue having good dialogue and coming up with what is best for sports, I think we can go a long way, and we are definitely open to dialogue at all and any juncture because this is not for us, it is for the youth,” she concluded.