NGC/NAAA handbook launched to guide junior track athletes


(FILE): In this March 21, 2021 file photo Ponit Fortin New Jets’ Natasha Fox crosses the finish line in the under 20 400 meter dash during the NAAA 2021 Track and Field series at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, Port of Spain. – AYANNA KINSALE

TO maximise the potential of athletes in the National Gas Company(NGC)/National Association of Athletics Administrations (NAAA) Youth Elite Programme (YEP) a handbook has been penned to guide the path of track and field athletes.

The handbook was launched virtually, on Tuesday.

The NGC/NAAA YEP, established in 2017, targets junior athletes to develop their talent.

Ian Carter, the YEP technical director, said, “The programme commenced in 2017 with a vision to be the most comprehensive sporting development programme for junior athletes in TT.”

The programme “adopts a holistic view of athletic development that involves a multidisciplinary approach to achieving the programme’s goals.”

A tier system was introduced splitting athletes into three tiers along with workshops to enhance the skills of local coaches.

The programme already has a lot to celebrate as a total of 12 athletes are pursuing scholarships in the US and another is attending the University of TT.

Carter said three more athletes are expected to leave these shores in January to accept University offers.

Athletes and coaches have also had the opportunity to participate in the Michael Johnson Programme in the US, Carter said.

“Between 2018 and 2019 we sent eight athletes and four coaches to the Michael Johnson Performance clinic in Texas to do assessments and to engage in a coaching workshop.”

Carter said the handbook is a valuable tool in helping produce more talent.

“I urge all stakeholders, particularly parents, athletes and coaches, to really peruse the handbook as it would guide your participation throughout the programme.”

Carter thanked NGC for their “vision” in supporting track and field.

Lisa Burkett, manager corporate communications at NGC, said, “We at NGC have long recognised the role that corporate TT can play in athletes success by building a strong support system for track and field. We believe that no athletic potential should go unfulfilled for lack of training or equipment or opportunity.”

Burkett said NGC has chosen to invest “heavily” in track and field since the partnership began in 2013.

Burkett said the handbook is key in steering athletes on the right path.

“As we look forward to the future of the YEP initiative we decided it would be worthwhile to produce a handbook that would guide incoming athletes (to the programme), their parents and guardians on the objectives and expectations of the programme.”

Burkett thanked all those who made the handbook a reality.

Athletes also gave their thoughts on how the programme benefited them.

Kelsey Daniel of Kaizen Panthers, a long jumper and triple jumper, said the programme gives him the motivation to persist with his training.

Shaniqua Bascombe of Cougars said YEP has allowed her to have “a proper education and training system.”

Kion Benjamin, who made his Olympic debut at the 2020 Tokyo Games, thanked NGC for the support.

Tyriq Horsford of Zenith Athletics echoed Benjamin’s statement by thanking NGC.

Avindale Smith said the programme helped him “cover almost every single bill” in his track and field career recently.

Tyrell Edwards and Shakeem McKay also praised NGC for their assistance.

Natasha Fox, Savion Joseph, Gianna Paul and Janae De Gannes are some of the athletes recently included in YEP.

YEP has helped TT athletes transition from junior to senior level including Benjamin, Adell Colthrust and Akanni Hislop. The trio represented TT at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

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