The late, great Alexander Bernard Chapman never broke the rules.
“He always said ‘Rules are Rules!'” These were the words of Catherine Forde, who worked with the long-standing sports administrator and sports pioneer Chapman for some 38 years.
“I worked with Mr Chapman at the T&T Olympic Association (Now called the T&T Olympic Committee and then with him on the Sports Foundation and I can say without a shadow of a doubt that Alex Chapman would never break the rules. Don’t ask him to be flexible, the rules remain the rules. He was not in the business of winning popularity. He wanted to ensure things were managed in the manner which would be respectable and honest. When it came to the constitution and flexibility there was none. As such he never got into any problem. Clearly, he was a man of integrity,” said Forde.
“One thing that I will always remember him for was at the WITCO Sports Foundation in the 1980s. He ensured that sports administrators had a structure by which they would manage and a manual to assist. Such was the foresight of the man. He ensured as young administrators, the basic things were learnt. This was his initiative and you will be aware that he was an excellent presenter and writer.
“His integrity was never brought into question as he was an upfront man, he was as straight-forward as you could ask for. You knew at that time that you had to come straight. He was a walking encyclopedia, his knowledge was vast and he shared it with all the young and upcoming sports administrators. He went so far as to make a Guide Book, to ensure those who did not know their rules and functions, learnt them. He lectured for the benefit of all and he will be sadly missed.”
In honour of Chapman, who was TTOC president for eight years and secretary-general for 25, an award in his name was established in 1998 under then president Douglas Comacho.
Camacho, who is chairman of the Sport Company of T&T (SporTT) and president of the T&T Hockey Board (TTHB), was full of praise for Chapman whom he said when he started at TTOC ensured that he introduced him to everyone.
“His total dedication and commitment to T&T and the Olympic movement, in general, was undisputed. Everybody in the Olympic world knew him. He was very well respected, calm, modulated and thoughtful. What was most important was the fact that the great man’s concern was always about athletes.
“He left no one behind, he was kind, considerate and looked out for everybody. Alex was truly an iconic sporting character. The Alexander B Chapman Award is presented at the annual TTOC Awards function ‘for outstanding contribution to sport and Olympism, particularly in the promotion of Olympic ideals’. It was and will continue to be, a fitting tribute to a giant in sports administration.”
The last two recipients of the honour at the First Citizens Sports Foundation Awards were Anthony “Dada” Wickham in 2017 and sports journalist David Lamy (deceased), last year.
Chairman of the Foundation Dr Terry Ali described Chapman, whom we knew as ‘Chappie’, as a phenomenal man.
“He was a library and information on any Games, Olympics or athletes could be gleaned from him. Chappie was such a knowledgeable man and he brought with him an air of authority. Really, he commanded respect based on the perspectives he brought forward,” said Dr Ali. “He believed in the constitution and would never go against the law or constitution.
“He was a believer in family and when we meet his wife and him, it was like we were meeting our foster parents. The way they were greeted each other was something which had to be seen to be believed. I am glad that this year, is called the ‘Year of Legacy” as history books and archives will state that he was one of the pioneers in the development of sport and athletes.
“I have known Chappie as he is fondly known since 1989 and he was instrumental in me organising to get sports medicine and it’s management as part of the TTOC. Ten years ago, he requested that I serve on the Sports Foundation and I have been there ever since. His act will be very difficult to match. He was such a wonderful person who always put the country first.”