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Friday March 10th, Port of Spain - The Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee (TTOC) held its second annual Future of Sport Conference, yesterday at the Normandie Hotel under the theme “Next Step Entrepreneurship: The Foundation Stone for a Sustainable Sport Industry.

In welcoming attendees, TTOC president Brian Lewis said modern sports organisations have a key role to play in economic diversification, and encouraged them to be service oriented and athlete centred.  Lewis also stressed the importance of harnessing the talents of all citizens, especially passionate and entrepreneurial-minded women, noting that TTOC has already embarked on a strategic initiative “the future is female” to ensure that female athletes have all the support they need to achieve their sporting goals. 

The feature address was delivered by Dr Terrence Farrell, Chairman of the Economic Development Advisory Board, who stressed the importance of the diversification effort and encouraged local entrepreneurs to focus on “what the world needs, not solely on what you can sell,” as they sought to bring their creative ideas to life. Farrell also stressed the importance of the West Indian Diaspora in helping entrepreneurs build and develop global relationships

While last year’s conference served to spark initial conversations surrounding the development of a sustainable sport industry, panel sessions at this years event focused on developing an entrepreneurial mind-set, creating and protecting business ideas and eventually funding business ventures.

Attendees were urged by seasoned entrepreneurs such as Andrea Rochford, Senior Consultant at Personalized Quality Systems Limited and Candace Guppy of Candy Coated Events to find mentors and other like-minded people to network with.

Noting that entrepreneurs tended to be tenacious and resourceful risk takers, would be sport entrepreneurs were provided with key recommendations including how to:

  • Look for gaps in the marketplace
  • Map capabilities to specific opportunities and
  • Create a unique value proposition

Rochford noted that sport in Trinidad & Tobago can be “cliquish” and encouraged persons to look outside the sporting arena, and make their events attractive to persons who don’t necessarily have a background in sport.

Other topics raised included cultural impediments to entrepreneurship and moving past the philosophy that sport should be solely used for social and community development. Presenters stressed that the multiplier effect in sport and other creative businesses is greater than the oil and gas industry. Sport and Entertainment Lawyer Carla Parris touched on key legal aspects including non-disclosure, licensing and merchandising agreements, while encouraging entrepreneurs to develop clear ground rules as to what happens in both profit and loss situations. Parris noted that many a good idea has never been allowed to see the light of day because of unresolved legal issues.

The day ended with participants being given the opportunity to flex their ‘creative muscles’ by coming up with ideas for sustainable sport businesses in Trinidad and Tobago. Fittingly the winning idea came from a female entrepreneur for a sports data metrics company.

The conference series is a key part of the TTOC’s strategic initiatives to create a sustainable sport industry by 2030 and achieve ten or more Olympic Gold Medals by 2024.