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Trinidad's Dynamic Sporting Scene

Trinidad has a healthy appetite for sport. Drive past any recreation ground or open field on an evening or weekend and you'll see people engaged in some type of sporting activity, most likely football or cricket. Sporting events in Trinidad are more than just occasions to support home-grown teams - they're also an opportunity to turn up the music, share some eats and drink, and generally lime the day away. But Trinidad has its share of activities to please adrenalin junkies as well.

On beaches and on village and city savannahs it's common to see "fete-matches" in progress, whether it's "small-goal" football, rugby or cricket, and during international football and cricket matches the action on the field is often matched by equally enthusiastic partying in the stands.

But if your game is motor racing, cycling, adventure racing, power boat racing, basketball, kayaking or keeping in shape at the gym, you needn't skip a beat: Trinidad has the facilities - and fellow enthusiasts - to keep you on the right track.

National Sporting Organisations (NSOs) govern various sports and manage the development of athletes. As a result, the country has been well represented on the international stage in track and field, football, cricket, hockey, boxing, martial arts, swimming, motor sports and shooting. In 2010, the country's athletes won 44 medals at the Central America and Caribbean Games, easily breaking the previous 1966 record of 24.

The sports calendar is packed, with tournaments and meets throughout the year. While sports tourism is not yet fully developed, many events do include foreign competitors.

Athletics

T&T has always been a quiet force in track and field, with athletes winning coveted hardware at the Olympics and other international meets. Its athletic prowess lies largely with sprinters like Richard Thompson. Locals get to see their stars in action at the annual Hampton Games, held at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain: participants have included Jamaican phenomenon Usain Bolt and American sprinter Maurice Green. There are 45 clubs nationwide: the Southern Games at Guaracara Park is one of the biggest annual meets. National Amateur Athletics Association: 645-6976, www.naaatt.org

Basketball

Increasingly popular, efforts to start a professional basketball league have encouraged interest. Professional or not, basketball is played nightly on community courts nationwide, as well as in seven zonal leagues and on national teams. The Sport and Physical Education Centre on the university campus in St Augustine seats over 1,000 people and is often heavily booked. There are other venues in Maloney, Pleasantville, and Port of Spain (the Jean Pierre Complex). A Miami Heat court opened in Fanny Village, Point Fortin last year. Major events are the Super Ten (October to early December) and the National Club Championship. National Basketball Federation: 646-1663, www.nbftt.org

Cricket

Perhaps the only sport to rival football's popularity, cricket has gained new interest and new fans thanks to the Twenty/20 format in which the national team is considered a regional powerhouse, despite its third place finish in the Caribbean T20 tournament in 2010. This is also the home of Brian Lara, the former West Indies captain who has held just about every record available to a batsman. Introduced by the British in the 1800s, cricket has become a West Indian institution. The Queen's Park Oval in Port of Spain is one of the Caribbean's most beautiful cricket grounds and the venue for international Test and One-Day International matches. Cricket is also played on savannahs and village pitches all over the country. The Oval hosts international as well as regional and top local league games, and has been home of the Queen's Park Cricket Club since 1896. Trinidad & Tobago Cricket Association: 636-1577, www.ttcricketboard.com

Cycling

T&T has seen a cycling resurgence of late. The Beacon Cycling Series and West Indies vs the World are highlights of the racing calendar, which includes the Easter International Grand Prix and National Championships (at the Arima Velodrome). Trinidad & Tobago Cycling Federation: www.ttcyclingfederation.com

Diving

Trinidad cannot match Tobago as a diving destination, but there is diving all year. The best is around the islands off Chaguaramas, particularly Chacachacare, sheltered from the muddy waters of the Orinoco. The north coast and Gulf of Paria are other sites. Dive TnT conducts all-day diving trips most weekends. Contact a dive shop like Rick's Dive World or Dive TnT to ask about current conditions before you make solid plans. Dive Specialist Centre, T: 628-4524 • Rick's Dive World, T: 628-1913

Drag Racing

Drivers and fans eagerly awaiting a new track in Cunupia. There are five different rallying locations in south and central Trinidad, e.g. the popular Zig Zag and Indian trail tracks in Couva. The Rally Club hosts legs of the Caribbean Speed Stages Rally Championship; American autocross defensive driving competitions, Solodex, are held in the car park of the Santa Rosa race track, as are Karting events. Zorce Magazine: www.zorce.com • Trinituner: www.trinituner.com

Fishing

"People from all over the world come to Trinidad to fish tarpon," says Sid Johnson, of the Trinidad & Tobago Game Fishing Association. "You can find tarpon in these waters all year round but they are particularly active during the rainy season." On-shore fishing in Trinidad is popular in Chaguaramas, Las Cuevas, Galera Point and the Nariva river mouth. Popular boat-fishing spots include the Chaguaramas islands, where fishermen "troll" for carite, kingfish and cavalli and "bank" for redfish, salmon and croakers (or grunt). Pelagics such as marlin, sailfish, tarpon, kingfish, and wahoo are highly prized. Fishing tournaments are held year-round. Trinidad & Tobago Game Fishing Association: 632-6088, www.ttgfa.com

Football

A close second to cricket in the heart of Trinidadians, who follow the fortunes of the national team with a great deal of (often anguished) interest. Several of our talented footballers are also doing us proud at international club level. Trinidadian footballers Carlos Edwards and Kenwyne Jones currently play in the English Premier League. Trinidad and Tobago was the host of the highly successful FIFA World (men's) Under-17 championships in 2001 and Women's Under-17 FIFA world championships in 2010. And our Soca Warriors team represented T&T as the smallest nation ever to qualify for the World Cup in 2006.

With a male and female national team (Soca Princesses and Soca Warriors), professional and secondary school leagues, and clubs for children of all ages, football is a truly national sport.? The Hasely Crawford and Marvin Lee stadiums are home to Trinidad's football team: Pro League matches (April-December) are played there and at the Larry Gomes (Arima), Ato Boldon (Couva) and Manny Ramjohn (Marabella) stadiums.

Trinidad & Tobago Football Federation (TTFF): 623-7312, www.ttffonline.com ; T&T Pro League: 645-4489, www.ttproleague.com

Golf

Trinidad has three 18-hole courses: Moka's St Andrew's Golf Club, Trincity's Millennium Lakes and Petrotrin's Pointe-à-Pierre Golf Club. Nine-hole courses exist at Brechin Castle, Usine St Madeleine and Chaguaramas.Chaguaramas Development Authority: 634-4227, www.chagdev.com ; Millennium Lakes Golf & Country Club: 640-TEES, www.milleniumlakes.com ; Trinidad & Tobago Golf Association: 629-7127, www.trinidadandtobagogolfassociation.com

Horse Racing

Santa Rosa Park is Trinidad's only horse racing track, and it has an AmTote betting system. Thoroughbreds pound the dirt nearly every Saturday and public holiday (2008 saw 46 race days). There are about forty race days annually, all on public holidays or Saturdays. They include New Year races, Derby Day, Diamond Stakes, Midsummer Classic, President's Cup and the Santa Rosa Classic. Santa Rosa Park: 646-2450, www.santarosapark.com ; Trinidad & Tobago Racing Authority: 646-1986

Horse riding

Dressage and show jumping instruction is available from Bays & Greys Riding Centre (Santa Cruz), Jericoe Stables (St Ann's), and Goodwin Heights (the St Ann's 250-acre former coffee and cocoa estate in of Margaret "Muffy" Auerbach). For trail riding, contact Hidden Valley (Chaguaramas) or Bonanza Stud Farm (Arima). Trinidad & Tobago Equestrian Association: www.ttea.4t.com , tteasecretarygeneral@yahoo.com

Kayaking

River kayaking is best in the wet season when rivers are full. The Yara and Marianne Rivers on the north coast are popular spots (Eric Blackman rents kayaks at the mouth of the Marianne). Caribbean Discovery Tours takes visitors kayaking in the Nariva Swamp. The Godineau River takes you through saltwater mangrove swamps and freshwater marshland. For sea kayaking, the Kayak Centre in Chaguaramas offers the sheltered waters of Williams Bay, and provides equipment. Take extra care in rainy season. Kayak Centre, T: 633-7871 • Caribbean Discovery Tours, T: 624-7281 • Eric Blackman (Marianne River), T: 669-3995

Martial arts

A plethora of martial arts is practised, including kung fu, karate, bushido, aikido, judo, jujitsu, tai chi and kickboxing. Several dojos teach martial arts styles, from Kung Fu to WuShu. Purple Dragon, founded by Professor Don Jacob, teaches Trinidad's only indigenous form of Karate, Don Jitsu Ryu, and operates several schools locally. Other styles: Capoeira, Bushido, Aikido, Judo, Ju-Jitsu, Tai Chi and Kickboxing. Purple Dragon: 675-1688, www.purple-dragon.com ; Shoto Kan Karate Do International Federation: www.skiftt.com

Motor sports

Rally Trinidad is perhaps the biggest motor sports event in T&T, attracting fans and competitors each March from all over the region. Rally Tobago entered its second year in 2010. The Trinidad and Tobago Rally Club (TTRC) hosts legs of the Caribbean Speed Stages Rally Championship. Drag racing is popular, though it is yet to find a permanent base. There are five different rallying locations in south and central Trinidad.

Mountain biking

A popular and challenging sport in Trinidad. Trails in Chaguaramas are ideal for beginners. Chaguaramas' forest paths, old military and agricultural roads are a popular mountain biking area, offering an encounter with exotic flora and fauna while negotiating varied terrain and trails. Other locations include the Santa Cruz valley and Matura to Matelot stretch. For a lung-burster try the Blanchisseuse to Morne La Croix Road. Bikes can be rented from several places, but there are no trail maps, so check with a guide like Kerry Williams in Chaguaramas. Trails are muddy and slippery after heavy rain, so the best time of year is the dry season. Kerry "Max" Williams, T: 735-5634 • Geronimo's Cycle and Sports, T: 622-BIKE • Kayak Centre, Chaguaramas, T: 633-7871

Sailing

Trinidad has one of the largest racing fleets in the Caribbean, and Chaguaramas is a major sailing hub. The racing season begins around November–December and continues till May–June. Dry season winds are stronger (northeast trade, consistent force 4-5), while in the wet season they tend to be lighter (1-3). The Sailing Association hosts 16 races, including general handicap races where any boat can take part. Trinidad and Tobago Sailing Association, T: 634-4210, W: www.ttsailing.org Trinidad & Tobago Sailing Association: 634-4210, www.ttsailing.org

Surfing

From November to March, north coast beaches including Sans Souci provide favourable swells. Las Cuevas, L'Anse Mitan, Grande Rivière, Roughside and Salybia are also popular. In March, the Surfing Association stages the CSN Sans Souci, the first event in the cross-Caribbean Carib Challenge Cup series, , with an international surf festival in May and national championships in July. The main season is November-March, but patience is needed-even then, surfing isn't possible every day. But the hurricane season often produces waves well worth the wait. Surfing Association Trinidad & Tobago: www.surfingtt.org

Tennis

Tennis is a vibrant sport in Trinidad, especially at junior level. There are public courts at King George V Park in St Clair; and courts for hourly rental at the Trinidad Country Club and some hotels. Reservations are needed to use public courts: if you are only staying for a short time, contact a coach through the Tennis Association-they have regular time slots. Courts at the Trinidad Country Club (Tennis Patrons Association) and at the Trinidad Hilton can be rented by the hour, but those at Tranquillity and Westmoorings require yearly membership. In 2006, Trinidad's highest-ranked junior player, Lendl Smith, won the International Tennis Federation singles title.Trinidad and Tobago Tennis Association, T: 625-3030Trinidad & Tobago Tennis Association: 625-3030

Yachting

With its well-serviced marinas and boatyards, Chaguaramas is the hub of yachting activity. Immigration and Customs are based at Crews Inn. Chaguaramas's sheltered harbours have turned it into Yacht City, with strings of maintenance and repair yards and marinas. The Yacht Club at Glencoe is a private marina, but temporary memberships are available for foreigners. Smaller marinas, like Tropical Marine and Sweetwater, provide basic facilities-Tropical Marine also does fibreglass repairs. Boater's Directory, W: www.boatersenterprise.com ; T: 634-4938.Yacht Services Association of Trinidad & Tobago: 634-4938, www.ysatt.org ; Trinidad Yacht Services: www.trinidadyachtservices.com ; CrewsInn: 632-4542, www.crewsinn.com