Tobago was treated to a three-day Sport Caravan, at the Dwight Yorke Stadium in Bacolet, last weekend.
A Ministry of Sport initiative, the goal of the Sport Caravan is talent identification. And on Saturday and Sunday, hundreds of primary and secondary school students showed up at the Yorke Stadium, hoping to prove themselves worthy of selection for further training.
Cuban coaches, as well as coaches from Trinidad and Tobago, conducted sessions in basketball, boxing, cricket, football, golf, netball, track and field, and volleyball.
Olympic men's javelin gold medallist, Keshorn Walcott, together with his Cuban coach Ismael Lopez Mastrapa and manager Sean Roach, hosted a javelin clinic on Saturday and a competition on Sunday.
"I've seen a lot of guys here who really have talent," said Walcott. "Some of them have been to the Carifta level. They're really talented, and hopefully we could work together."
On Friday, a coaching seminar was staged at the Yorke Stadium. Among the presenters were Cuban coaches, Ramon Laferte Chavez, Jesus Ricardo Chavez Ramirez, and Jorge Suarez Condis. Also making contributions were Tobago Football Association (TFA) president, Raymond Alleyne, track and field coach Gerard Franklyn, and Dr Kerry Dollaway.
Laferte Chavez, a basketball coach, spoke about the detection of talent. He said it is important to detect talent early, adding that the best place for talent identification is in the schools.
Peggy Castanada, who has been coaching netball for the past 40 years, agreed with Laferte Chavez.
"In our country we start a bit late, so we always have to play catch-up. So if you have more interest shown by the parents and teachers and community people, we could then raise the standard. But we must start at the primary…I much prefer if we start at the kindergarten level."
Castanada, a member of T&T's 1979 World Championship winning netball team, is keen to follow up on the success of the Sport Caravan's Tobago leg.
"I hope that with this Sport Caravan, we could come back and work with the most outstanding athletes that we had here; that we could come again and have them at another forum, so we would have that continuity. And we have teachers and coaches from Tobago assisting us, so we hope they would go back to their villages and schools and impart the knowledge."
Laferte Chavez advocated the establishment of sports schools in T&T.
"In Tobago, the guys have good skill. Tobago needs one school for sport. We need to practice the sport everyday…practice the sport five days of the week is necessary for development of the attitude, the skill for the practice of the sport," said the Cuban coach in broken English.
Wade Franklyn is a Tobago House of Assembly (THA) coach. Like his brother, Gerard, Wade is also a Zenith Athletic Club coach, and has travelled with T&T track and field teams.
Wade was "very satisfied" with the turnout for track and field at the Tobago leg of the Sport Caravan.
"I was a little bit shocked too, because normally on a Sunday in Tobago you don't get that amount of people. And I was very satisfied with the actual performance of the children."
The throws coach also spoke about the work he has been doing in Tobago.
"Most of the talent that I get is from the schools. During my normal day to day programme, I deal mostly with the primary schools. When I go to the schools I will be able to scout, and see children with the body type and the different things. Normally, we call them out and have a special programme with them.
"We have a developmental programme," Wade continued, "that's really working. Since the gold medal in the Olympics, we have a high preference for javelin in Tobago. Most of the guys are very tall, over six foot six, and they're actually doing good. I expect some success from that programme.
"Throwing is one of the areas where we have less people competing at the Olympic level. But I'm sure that next Olympics, from this programme, I know we'll be able to send out a lot more people in that area."