Cudjoe: We all must encourage female athletes

The content originally appeared on: News Americas Now

Black Immigrant Daily News

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Former national gymnast Thema Williams at the launch of the Ministry of Sport’s Pink Reign campaign at the Hilton hotel, Port of Spain, Friday. – Photo by Roger Jacob

MINISTER of Sport Shamfa Cudjoe believes everyone has a part to play to ensure female athletes in this country get more attention and respect.

She was speaking at the ministry’s launch of the 2023 Pink Reign Campaign – a programme meant “to facilitate the development of women and girls by providing opportunities to increase awareness and participation in the key aspects of sport and physical activity.” It was held at the Hilton, St Ann’s on Friday morning.

Cudjoe said she created this campaign because she wanted to make a “deliberate attempt to conceptualise something of that nature.

“I wanted to do something that showcases women in sport.”

She said participants need not have been a “star athlete in school,” as it’s just about getting and keeping people moving.

She recalled how walking and running in 2014 improved her mental health when she was going through a divorce.

“I felt so good about myself and life…It was one of the best things that happened to me.”

She said it’s too common for society to pressure women into making decisions, such as starting a family when they reach a particular age, instead of pursuing what they want.

“Why do we have to choose? Why aren’t men asked to choose?”

She said girls need to be shown that they can do what they want to do.

She said there are teachers and principals in this country who do not care about sports, which leads them to make decisions that do not benefit budding athletes in the school system.

This, she said, needs to change.

“How many schools are still really having sports every year? That used to be a staple event on the calendar

“How do we identify new talent at school level?”

During a panel discussion, an audience member slammed the media for not giving as much coverage of women’s sport as much as it does for men.

Cudjoe said while the media has a part to play, “We (people) don’t go and watch it (women’s sports) either. We don’t go to the stands to watch the girls play either. It starts with you and me. There’s a role for you too in spectatorship.