Trinidad & Tobago
As the 2023 Commonwealth Youth Games (CYG) officially open today, Trinidad and Tobago have been preparing to host for what is sure to be a world-class sporting event, reflecting the unique melting pot of people, culture, history, and heritage of the twin isles as well as the Rugby Americas North (RAN) region.
The Games will be held August 4-11 and will feature seven sports split across both Trinidad and Tobago including Aquatics – Swimming, Athletics and Para Athletics, Beach Volleyball, Cycling – Road Race and Cycling, Netball, Triathlon, and Rugby Sevens.
President of the Trinidad and Tobago Rugby Union (TTRU) Maria Thomas says to have both male and female teams competing in Tobago in the Under 18s Division is an exciting and pivotal moment for rugby in her country, and the region at large.
“To be able to host rugby at the 2023 Commonwealth Youth Games is an incredible opportunity in itself, but having both our youth rugby teams competing is going to undoubtably generate more support for rugby in the region as well as support our Union’s specific efforts towards gender parity in the sport,” she says.
“The entire rugby community is eagerly anticipating the arrival of teams from all the nations we love to follow, and seeing how we measure up when put to the test. With the rapid growth of rugby within our region, competition for national age-grade teams is imperative for continued success at all levels. We can’t wait to play our part in the development of rugby, and sport in general, through hosting these Games next month.”
Rugby in Trinidad & Tobago
Maria Thomas is a rugby veteran, passionate about growing the sport both on and off the pitch in Trinidad and Tobago.
Thomas played for over 20 years for a variety of local, regional, and international rugby teams in the West Indies, Wales, and Canada, and proudly represented Trinidad and Tobago internationally on several occasions. She was notably a recipient of the prestigious World Rugby Women’s Leadership Scholarship in 2018, as well as completed a Master of Sports Administration (MSA) from the Russian International Olympic University in Sochi, Russia in 2020 after being nominated by the Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee (TTOC).
The following year, Maria was elected as TTRU’s next President, after undertaking the role of Honorary Secretary for five years while still competing for the national team.
Now in her second term, she is credited with rebranding the TTRU to improve its visibility in the community, as well as restructuring the administrative framework to make the Union’s operations more transparent and accessible to its members.
“We are working towards the continuous improvement of rugby in Trinidad and Tobago at all levels,” she says. “We are auditing all facets of the Union to ensure we reach our full potential and meet an international standard of operations. The governance process has become more productive, with interest in serving on the TTRU Executive and Specialised Committees, as well as the National Technical Teams, continuing to increase. Three new member clubs have been added to the TTRU and additional academy programs are enhancing community and national competition, particularly in youth categories. The Schools Union has also relaunched with a record number of schools asking for rugby programming on both islands.”
Thomas explains that it is the foundations that were established during the period of COVID-19 that are now enabling the TTRU to maintain this accelerated rate of development and performance.
“In 2022, the TTRU participated in all regional events including a full contingency of four teams who competed in Mexico for the inaugural launch of age-grade 7s at RAN 7s,” she says. “In 2023, the TTRU is focusing on hosting more diversified competition locally, as well as supporting regional projects to enhance the competition experience in the Caribbean.”
Impressively, the TTRU Senior Men’s 15s had a victorious return to play last month after a five-year hiatus, and the Senior Women’s 7s took part in the recent 2023 Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Games. The RAN Under 19s and Women’s 15s Tournament in Jamaica this month will additionally mark the return to Women’s 15s in the region, with the TTRU enthusiastically competing in both divisions.
However, Maria says the ‘big ticket’ item in terms of development and exposure will of course be the upcoming of the Common Youth games, which she says will springboard Trinidad and Tobago into the international sporting arena, particularly as it relates to rugby.
Rugby at Trinbago 2023 CYG
Maria says the CYG rugby will be held at Shaw Park Cultural Complex in Scarborough in Tobago where the Tobago RFC have been working tirelessly to regrow the sport island-wide through the club, training and education, schools, and the National Program by working to establish viable pathways for athletes to access the national teams.
Six teams will compete across two medal events – both a Men’s and Women’s competition – ages 17-18 years old.
Trinidad and Tobago
Trinidad and Tobago
Thomas says that after the uncertainty and delay caused by COVID-19, the CYG Local Organizing Committee is committed to setting unprecedented standards for the Games, particularly with regards to inclusion and safeguarding in sport.
“The TTRU Sport Management Team has really stepped up to meet the challenge of attracting interest in rugby at these Games – not only from our nation, but from the world,” she says. “The Commonwealth name is already attracting welcomed attention to rugby throughout the country, which will continue to increase with the launch of local fixtures and international guests in multiple divisions. We are confident that more age-grade opportunities in the region will build from the momentum of these Commonwealth Youth Games which will assist to create the kinds of opportunities our athletes need to achieve international success. The multi-sport, multi-venue aspect of the Commonwealth Youth Games event is going to raise the bar even higher for hosting sports events, including rugby, in Trinidad and Tobago and we can’t wait to welcome our fellow Commonwealth Nations to experience the diversity of our twin islands, and the warmth and unique nature of our local rugby community.”
For more information about Trinbago 2023, visit:
Full Sport Schedule https://www.trinbago2023.com/schedule
Trinbago 2023 https://www.trinbago2023.com/
Commonwealth Youth Games https://www.commonwealthsport.com/commonwealth-youth-games
Commonwealth Sport https://www.commonwealthsport.com/