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May 24, 2020

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Hours after the passing of former Prime Minister Patrick Manning at the San Fernando General Hospital yesterday morning from acute myeloid leukemia, Brian Lewis, the T&T Olympic Committee president admitted that his Vision 20/20 should have been maintained.

Lewis, who extended condolences to the family of Manning on behalf of the T&T Olympic Committee, also called on affiliate members as well as members from the wider Olympic Movement, to observe a minute silence at every sporting activities this weekend.

The Olympic boss, in a release, extended deepest condolences to the family, friends and colleagues of Manning but had hoped that his vision for sport in his Vision 20/20 document could have been continued despite the change in government in 2010.

“I remember after the 2008 Olympic Games, I was asked to be part of a committee to chart a way for sports through a ‘Sports Pathway Project’ under then Sports Minister Gary Hunt and some of the ideas that came out of that, were good, comprehensive ideas that would have transformed sports in T&T.

“Mr Manning was just a visionary who articulated his position clearly and was not afraid to do what he thought was good for the nation as a whole.”

According to Lewis “I think he may have been let down by the ones he placed in charge of the execution of the sporting initiatives, but he definitely had a great vision for the country and sports was included in it.”

Part of this vision was seen in the Elite Athletes programme that assisted athletes in their preparation for the Olympics and other international tournaments. Lewis, in agreement with a recent report by Derren Joseph, said the Vision 2020 document captures sports under the pillar of “developing a caring society,” noting that it recognises the importance of developing youth, sports and recreation in our beautiful country.

It also recognises the need for “close co-operation from all members of the sporting fraternity and youth groups: athletes, coaches, administrators, officials, parents, the media, youth groups, NGOs, as well as the Government, if the vision for sport and youth development is to be achieved.”

The document recommended that: Modern sporting facilities be established; Training and development of personnel involved in the development of sport in the country be a priority; Sporting scholarships for youth be established; and Community-based groups, as well as local government, work together to promote sport.

Manning through his Vision 20/20 may also stake claim to the introduction of a sports scholarship programme at the University of T&T (UTT) which has provided many young sportsmen and women with the opportunity to pursue their choice of studies, as well as sports certificate and bachelor degree courses in sports studies.

This initiative also led to the UTT working with several national sporting organisations, that later required the involvement of coaches to work for the institution’s High Performance and National teams programmes.

The vision 20/20 project was disposed of when Manning and his People National Movement (PNM) Government were voted out in 2010.

Lewis said for one to see how much of a visionary Manning was, one only needed to look at the Waterfront project or the Summit that was held there under his leadership. “He was simply a world leader.”

According to Lewis, “In his long and distinguished years of public and political service to the country, he was a role model of selfless service and leadership. He would have led the country and his political party during difficult times and adversity, but his poise, dignity, strength of character, indomitable will, perseverance and determination stood out.”

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