DOZENS of the most prominent women in regional sport, from national Olympians to local and regional sporting officials and administrators engaged in a day-long forum yesterday aimed at encouraging the advancement of women in leadership positions.

The forum was hosted by the TT Olympic Committee (TTOC) and the TT Commonwealth Games Association (TTCGA) at Trinidad Hilton and Conference Centre and also welcomed Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) president Dame Louise Martin, who congratulated the TTCGA after it won the bid to host the 2021 Commonwealth Youth Games (CYG).

The CYG is expected to attract well over 1,000 athletes, officials, and spectators.

Delivering the keynote address, Martin lauded the three women, Rheeza Grant, Kwanieze John and Chanelle Young (all national athletes), who conceptualised and developed TT’s presentation and bid to host the event.

The TTCGA won the bid in July, beating the only other bidder, Gibraltar, after a vote. Northern Ireland was originally named host but subsequently lost the right to host the multi-sport event, opening the door for TT’s and Gibraltar’s bids.

“I am really looking forward to TT hosting the Commonwealth Youth Games,” said Martin, noting the team’s outstanding presentation.

“Martin, who competed in what was then called the British Empire and Commonwealth Games in 1962, said the Commonwealth Games has developed drastically from its early years when women accounted for a small fraction of the competitors.

Women now compete in the same number of events as men.

The forum was moderated by journalist Franka Phillip, who recognised TTOC and TTCGA president Brian Lewis for his progressive and modern approach to sport.

“(Lewis) has been very bold when it comes to women in sport, since he took over.”

Meanwhile,sport minister Shamfa Cudjoe also addressed the audience, urging the athletes and administrators to “fight the system,” and reject inherent gender biases, in which boys and men are held to different standards as girls and women.

She said women have limitless potential to excel at leadership positions, especially when they support each other. “Men are not going to roll over (when you demand equality),” Cudjoe said.

She also highlighted an initiative called Pink Reign, which she described as a grassroots programme and fund designed to “promote excellence in women in sport.”

Details of the programme will be released at a media conference tomorrow.

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