Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : May 17th 2015 Contents A8
Sunday Guardian www.guardian.co.tt May 17, 2015
LIFE AFTER LIFE SPORT
Ten months after the shutting down of
the controversial Life Sport Programme there
come reports that several former participants
at two of its 43 centres---Carapo and Mal-
abar---have been either gunned down, impris-
oned or are fighting tooth and nail to sur-
The two centres fall within the constituency
of D Abadie/O Meara, which was won by Con-
gress of the People (COP) candidate Anil
Roberts in the 2010 general election.
In the wake of allegations of corruption and
fraud in the programme, Roberts was dismissed
as sports minister by Prime Minister Kamla
Persad-Bissessar and resigned as MP.
The PM placed the programme under the
National Security Ministry.
The Life Sport programme began in 2012
at 43 centres across the country for at-risk
youths between the ages of 16 and 25.
It was designed to help reduce crime, bring
about social transformation in the lives of
young men by strengthening their cognitive,
personal and interpersonal abilities so they
could make informed decisions, manage their
finances, communicate effectively and build
However, psychologist and behaviour change
consultant Franklyn Dolly urged the Govern-
ment to reintroduce a similar type of pro-
gramme, but on a smaller scale over a longer
"It has to be well managed and supervised.
There must be an overall intent. They must
not rush it. It must not be an idea that should
be tried. A lot of politicians do not understand
In retrospect, Dolly said the programme
was a political ploy by the Government.
"The intent was not bad [but] the execu-
tion was a political thing," to benefit certain
Carapo was one of the centres that gained
national attention when it was reported that
the Jamaat-al-Muslimeen was controlling the
mammoth share of the Ministry of Sport s
$113 million programme, which an audit had
found to be riddled with irregularities.
Co-ordinator of the Carapo centre was
Rajaee Ali, who was named as the main suspect
in the murder of Dana Seetahal, SC, by Diego
Martin North/East MP Colm Imbert in Par-
liament last June.
Ali was later charged with being part of a
plot to assassinate radio announcer Kevaughn
"Lerbz" Savor, as well as being a gang leader.
During a recent visit to Carapo, which has
a high unemployment rate, pockets of poverty,
and several squatting settlements, sport co-
ordinator for the D Abadie/O Meara con-
stituency Julius Edwards appealed for a similar
type of programme to be instituted to help
move the delinquent youths in these two com-
munities onto the straight and narrow path.
The Life Sport programme in Malabar hosted
80 participants, while Carapo had 60.
Each participant received a monthly stipend
They were being trained in cricket, football
Edwards said after the programme came to
a grinding halt, everything started to go down-
hill with those who were involved in the pro-
gramme at the Carapo and Malabar centres.
He said the men became restless, hopeless
and started to lose direction.
Young men snuffed out
"Several of the former participants have
since died at the hands of a gun. Some were
killed by the police, while others were fatally
shot by members of rival gangs."
Just a few weeks ago, Edwards said, a former
Malabar participant, whose alias he gave as
Popcorn, was gunned down by the police.
Edwards said he taught Popcorn the rudi-
ments of football.
"Popcorn was doing well with his training.
He was excelling. But when the programme
came to an end, he got caught up on the wrong
side of the law because there was nothing
constructive for him to do."
He estimated that 16 participants from
Carapo and Malabar were killed in a hail of
gunfire since the programme was halted.
Edwards did not identify the deceased par-
ticipants by their names, but gave their aliases
as Fireman, Navado, Waterman, Shylow, Cokey,
Shabazz, Cooper, Muff, Juice, and Jade, who
were all popularly known.
Apart from those whose lives had been
snuffed out, Edwards estimated close to 40
men who trained at both centres were now
incarcerated on robberies, shootings and drug
Worse off than before
"The jails are packed. These ex-participants
are now worse off than before. I think the
Government played politics with the lives of
the youths," Edward said.
Edwards said he was not happy by the turn
"They thought they could have turned a
new leaf on life, but were left hanging."
Before the programme started, Edwards
said, gangs from Malabar could not enter
Arima, Maloney, Pinto Road and La Horquetta
and vice versa.
Continues on Page A9
ALUMNI LOSE HOPE...
Former Life Sport participant and Carapo
resident Carlos Hilaire.
Former football coach at the Carapo Life
Sport Programme Julius Edwards.
One of the squatting areas in Carapo.
INSET: Former Life Sport participant and carapo
resident Deon Alex Peters. PHOTOS: ABRAHAM DIAZ
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