Financial stability leads the list of concerns to be addressed by the newly appointed TT Cycling Federation (TTCF) Rowena Williams administration.
Williams returned as president of the local cycling fraternity on Saturday, after unseating Joseph Roberts, who had served since January 2020.
Having been president for two previous two-year terms (2010-2014), Williams now takes up a four-year term, owing to recent constitutional change in the organisation. Under Roberts’ administration, she was the TTCF’s racing secretary and, to date, has been the only female president of the federation.
Williams’ return to power, however, has seen her inherit a looming debt of approximately $1.2 million.
The majority stems from TT’s hosting of the 2017 Elite Pan American Track Cycling Championships at the National Cycling Centre in Couva, under then-president Robert Farrier.
She said, “We need to build (back) trust and unity with all stakeholders of cycling. More than anything else, financial stability. Our finance committee has to really look at consolidation of debts. More than anything else, marketing of the federation.”
Over the next ten days, Williams will set up the federation’s racing, discipline and finance committees to chart a way forward.
She said after that, administrators will go straight to the drawing board to analyse and assess the financial aspects of the association. Where needs to be improved and what needs to get done are the president’s main focus areas.
“With regard to racing, we need to look at and redo the racing calendar and set key objectives going forward.
“We have to also look at hosting nationals (championships) as it’s an important meet for our local cyclists from the racing aspect,” she added.
Smack in the middle of last year’s National Track Cycling Championships at the Couva facility, in mid-March, TT was hit with the pandemic. Several cyclists stayed away from the final two days of the meet for fear of contracting the novel virus.
Additionally, the return of Nicholas Paul and Kwesi Browne from the World Track Cycling Championships in Germany saw the latter test positive for covid19, days after competing at the 2020 nationals. Several athletes and officials then self-isolated to prevent further spread.
Since then, the Roberts administration was only able to host three officially sanctioned meets: a virtual ride (July 2020) and two assessment meets (January 2021) which were held to select national teams for the 2021 Pan American Track Cycling Championships and Junior World Track Cycling Championships.
Although training has resumed at the velodrome for national athletes only, domestic cyclists have also opted to return to the streets to train.
Williams plans to unveil a series of programmes geared towards increasing participation in the sport. Much emphasis will be placed on a resurgence of women in cycling.
She also said, “One of the things we have to look at is how we can collaborate and integrate with other sporting bodies like triathlon, volleyball and netball. Cycling is a great aspect in helping build physical strength and cardio for all different sports.
“If we all collaborate and come together, we would build interest in all sport and by extension, expand participation. We ask ourselves, how we can collaborate with other federations and the community to draw what is available to us?”
With Tokyo-bound athletes Paul, Browne (both based in Switzerland) and Teniel Campbell (Italy) gearing up for their Olympic debut, Williams affirmed everything necessary would be done to ensure these three remain the federation’s top priority.
“The guys (Olympians) are already training. We just need to give them encouragement and make sure all their equipment and requirements are fully met. We want them going into the Olympics confident and with full support of the cycling federation and the public.”
Williams recently presented her 2021-2025 strategic plan, Reinvigorating Cycling, which outlined several high-priority areas for sport development.
Becoming financially independent, appointing a national coach and increasing female participation in both recreational and competitive cycling are some of her team’s objectives.