By Neto Baptiste
Minister of Sports, Daryll Matthew, said he will not retract statements he made in Parliament two weeks ago regarding a GoFundMe initiative launched by national sprinter, Tahir Walsh, as the athlete seeks to raise funding that would aid his bid to qualify for the July 23 to August 8, 2021 Tokyo Olympic Games.
Speaking recently on the Good Morning Jojo Sports Show, Matthew, when asked if in hindsight he thought the statements were premature and could have been avoided through dialogue with the athlete, said he stands by his statements.
“You are not going to get me to say yes to that because I don’t think what I said in Parliament was incorrect. What I said was that I compliment him for starting the GoFundMe page because he is raising funds to do the circuit so that when qualifications start he is in good condition. However, pages like this, when they are put up, the athletes need to be careful and I don’t see anything wrong with me saying that,” he said.
Matthew, however, accepted that maybe his language was bit stronger than it needed to be at the time.
“Perhaps, the language that I used was a bit stronger than I should have, but the point is that we have had recent examples of persons coming to the public and to the media giving an impression that the government is not supporting its athletes, and it is an incorrect position, and that is what my pushback was at the time and continues to be,” he said.
Revealing that he has spoken to Walsh since his presentation in Parliament, the sports minister said he was able to further explain his position to the athlete while Walsh was also able to state his own position.
“What I said to Tahir was exactly what I had said to you and what I had said in parliament. I never discredited his GoFundMe page and I never said it was a bad thing. In fact, I complimented him for setting up the GoFundMe page, but my concern is that when athletes start these pages — and when you look at the cover of the page he is wearing the national uniform and the caption says something to the extent of ‘help Tahir get to the Olympics’ — so when someone looks at that page it automatically gives the impression that Mr Walsh is going to the Olympics and the government is not supporting him financially,” Matthew said.
Walsh has since been approved for funding through the National Olympic Committee (NOC).