TRINIDAD AND Tobago Olympic Committee (TTOC) president Brian Lewis issued an official request to Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar and representatives of the Ministry of Housing and Ministry of Sport, in respect of support for expedited housing for athletes who have performed national service within a defined criteria.
Over the past four weeks, the TTOC boss has been openly voicing his thoughts towards the establishment of a transparent Elite Athlete Housing Assistance Programme.
Lewis’ most recent developments in this regard has seen the delivery of an official proposal to the aforementioned Ministries requesting their immediate attention and urgency towards this unique idea. Primarily, such an initiative will assist in allowing the athlete a successful transition out of sport and back into the real world.
The purpose of the policy proposal is to implement a strategy that rewards the national athletes for their long and meritorious national duty and service at Olympics, Para-Olympics and World Level Championships (Continental and Regional).
The idea of housing assistance for national athletes is based on the reality that athletes, who dedicate years of their youthful life to representing the twin-island republic at Olympic and World level sport, make tremendous sacrifices in respect of their careers, families, and income.
According to Lewis, “the athletes’ choice to dedicate themselves to national duty and service through sport ostensibly places athletes at a significant social and economic disadvantage. The dream of qualifying and becoming an Olympic and World champion commands dedication, sacrifice and money.
Currently the burden is a de- motivating one for athletes.
“Many athletes have served the country with distinction for five or more years and it is proposed they receive formidable consideration for expedited housing assistance. Some athletes struggle to adjust to real life when their sporting career ends.”
The former Harvard Rugby Club player also aligned his proposal with the TTOC’s “10 Olympic Gold medals by 2024” vision - Athlete Welfare and Preparation Fund. Lewis is also aware of the various and strict criteria that must be met to ensure such a programme is indeed a success, both for the athlete and country.
He believes that athletes will be required to meet the Housing Development Corporation (HDC) mortgage criteria and will have to honour their mortgage obligations.
The TTOC head added, “the programme will remove one less burden of providing a home for their family and ensure a sense of security when their careers have ended. The HDC we are advised, currently have a programme that guarantees expedited housing distribution to the members of our protective services. The TTOC proposes a similar policy with expedited housing distribution to athletes who meet an agreed criterion.”
In the interest of the criteria remaining transparent, fair and accountable, the TTOC, in conjunction with the National Sporting Organisations (NSO) will clarify, confirm and recommend the athletes that deserve merit for their services for Trinidad and Tobago.