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Members blank t-tennis selection panel

Published: 
Thursday, July 12, 2018
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T&T table-tennis player, from left, Aaron Wilson and Yuvraaj Dookram along with team manager Ian Joseph, President of the T&T Table Tennis Association settle in to their living accommodations for the duration of the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games at the Games Village, Parkland Brisbane, Australia back in April.

The unwillingness of members of the T&T Table Tennis Association (TTTTA) to be part of a special selection committee may lead to this country not having a men’s team at next week’s Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Games.

The issue was raised by TTTTA president Ian Joseph in email correspondence with T&T Olympic Committee (TTOC) officials on Tuesday.

The correspondence was forwarded to attorneys for veteran player Dexter St Louis in response to a request for information on why the TTTTA failed to meet the deadline for selecting a new team, as set by TTOC’s Arbitration Panel.

“I have made numerous attempts to people within the organisation and nobody is prepared to serve on the selection committee. Most have indicated that in light of what is being published on the newspapers and shown on television, they are not interested in serving as they do not want their names in the media,” Joseph said in an email to Lovie Santana, a senior administrative officer in the TTOC.

He went on: “We reiterate that the TTTTA, while it is willing to comply, is not in a position to garner any persons to serve on a new selection committee.”

Joseph also stated that the TTTTA constitution required that the committee consists of the president or a vice president, the general secretary and three other members. The arbitration panel stipulated that members on the initial panel cannot sit on the second selection committee.

St Louis’ lawyer Matthew Gayle confirmed receipt of the forwarded email correspondence and questioned whether any possible change in position would be valid after Tuesday’s deadline.

“While I note your practical obstacles to compliance with the award, the regrettable fact remains at this point that any selection now would be in breach of the award,” Gayle said.

The T&T Guardian understands that there was no change in position, up to late yesterday.

If the issue cannot be resolved by the end of this week, it would mean that T&T would be without a men’s team for the games, which are due to be held in Barranquilla, Columbia, from July 19 to August 3.

In his challenge, St Louis, who is based in France and is a two-time CAC silver medallist, claimed that the committee ignored TTTTA policy and selected players who were able to pay their own travel costs to participate in a qualification event in Cuba between February 28 and March 3.

Although it admitted that several players were self-funded or sponsored due to cuts in Government subvention, the TTTTA claimed that its selections for participation in tournaments are based on merit.

It said that only local players attended the qualification event in Cuba and that both local and foreign-based players were then invited for trials. The TTTTA claimed that only the local players responded by the deadline and were selected.

St Louis’ stepdaughter Rheann Chung was eventually put on the women’s team as local player Aleena Edwards was unavailable for the games.

Delivering a decision on Monday, TTOC’s Arbitration Panel ruled that the selection of the men’s team was flawed and that a new selection committee should select a new team by 4 pm on Tuesday.

The arbitration panel consisted of sports lawyers Tyrone Marcus (chairman), Stefan Fabien and Christophe Brathwaite.

This is the second time for the year that St Louis has brought legal action against the TTTTA over its selection policy.

Earlier this year, St Louis and Chung were forced to file a lawsuit against the TTTTA after they were left out of the team representing T&T at the Commonwealth Games in Australia.

In that case, St Louis and Chung also challenged the selection process used by the committee.

St Louis and Chung had initially obtained an injunction barring the TTTTA from sending a team pending the determination of their case.

The TTOC eventually intervened and afforded St Louis and Chung, the most decorated athletes to ever represent T&T in the sport, additional places on the team.

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