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Youth sport in Trinidad and Tobago: Extending the possibilities and pathways for post-secondary school participation

Sport in Trinidad and Tobago (T&T) emerged out of centuries of occupation by different colonisers becoming more entrenched through the influences of the British. Continued but intermittent successes at the international level have led to increasing attention being directed to youth sport development within recent times. Whilst this has been unfolding at the national level, schools have been utilising resources within their command to keep youth involved in sport. This study primarily focused on youth sport practices in the senior comprehensive schools (SCS), a school type that was created and continuously reconfigured to meet the changing demands of education. In spite of a series of transitions, sport arose and persisted within these institutions carrying greater and greater significance as time elapsed. Whereas the SCS contributed to youth sport engagement at schools, community sport clubs and their respective National Governing Bodies (NGBs) working within the framework of a new service company, The Sport Company of Trinidad and Tobago (SPORTT), which operated under the aegis of the Ministry of Sport (MOS), provided additional opportunities for sport engagement. Efforts at these two levels however, appeared not to have produced maximum or prolonged benefits. Attrition rates in youth sport engagement at both school and community levels appeared to be sufficiently high, especially after students completed secondary schooling. The study therefore reports on research that investigated sport provision for youth in T&T, and specifically addressed coherence in provision across school, club, community and representative contexts. It followed the qualitative tradition and utilised an interpretative approach that bore a critical edge. Data was generated from investigations in three regional SCS school sites, and from participants in their homes and work places. Data collection involved conducting interviews with sport students past and present, as well as teachers, principals and professionals in the field of physical education and sport, and the collection of documents from the different sites. Analysis utilised a thematic approach within an iterative process. Findings revealed notable tensions and fragmentation in provision, particularly relating to (i) NGBs’ continued focus on elite development to the detriment of mass participation and capacity building; (ii) a relative lack of support in the community (with the exception of cricket); and (iii) pedagogical experiences and opportunities for young people within and beyond school characterised by disconnections. Discussion focuses on insights arising from an engagement with data and literature on education and sport policy, youth sport practices and physical education and sport pedagogy internationally. Recommendations arising from the research draw attention to actions needed to achieve coherence in sport provision for young people with a view to maximising pathways for sustained participation at all levels.
Type of thesis
Lawrence-Ince, K. (2016). Youth sport in Trinidad and Tobago: Extending the possibilities and pathways for post-secondary school participation (Thesis, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)). University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/10301
University of Waikato
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