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Life Sport coach talks of quitting

By STEPHON NICHOLAS Sunday, June 29 2014

With all the turmoil surrounding the Life Sport programme, one coach yesterday told Sunday Newsday he was considering quitting the programme. Coaches are hired to work at 40 centres for the programme throughout the country.

The programme, conceptualised by Minister of Sport Anil Roberts, has been fraught with controversy for the past six weeks since allegations of corruption and other criminal activities surfaced.

Minister of National Security Gary Griffith was quoted in a report that there were ghosts in the Life Sport with former murder accused and Life Sport Coordinator for Carapo, Rajaee Ali, reaping substantial financial benefits from this scheme.

The programme, which cost taxpayers just $6.6 million in 2012, has expanded significantly in two years, with costs put at an astronomical $113 million in 2014.

The programme has since been stripped from the Ministry of Sport and handed over the Ministry of National Security and Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar has also ordered an audit.

Since then, though, Ruth Marchan, Deputy Director of Physical Education and Sport, has claimed that there is a plot to kill her after she refused to condone corruption in the Life Sport programme. So afraid was Marchan that she hired a personal bodyguard - Curtis “Tall Man” Gibson. Gibson was brutally gunned down at his Malabar home early Friday morning while sleeping next to his wife.

Yesterday, a Life Sport coach, speaking on condition of strict anonymity, says his view about the programme was beginning to change for the worst.

“Honestly, the programme is a good one. Initially it was a good idea (but) I don’t know what went wrong. I know for a fact it helps plenty young people in my area. A lot of young people lives have been saved but up top I don’t know what’s going on,” the coach said.

The murder of Marchan’s bodyguard seems to have shaken up the coach too as he is considering leaving the programme despite receiving an approximate $6,000 monthly salary.

“You see where people getting killed and thing, I really kind of sceptical of continuing. You pick up the papers and reading how people getting murdered now,” the coach said.

Asked whether he has seen any illicit activities taking place at his centre, the coach denied that any corruption was there but pointed fingers at the East-West corridor.

“We at the ground don’t know much about what going on on top. We centre does run good. The problem is mostly in the East-West corridor. That is the hot spot area,” he said.

Meanwhile, efforts to contact Marchan, who said she was ready to flee the country, proved futile yesterday as calls to her cellphone went unanswered.

Marchan had previously said she did not report the alleged threats against her to the police and it is unknown whether she has approached the police for protective custody now that her private security guard was dead.

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