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Sancho: GOV’T KILLING THE PRO LEAGUE
On the heels of a disappointing showing last Tuesday by the Soca Warriors squad against Panama, former Minister of Sport Brent Sancho has lashed out over the current state of T&T football.
“During my time as a national player up until now, a fundamental theme for success in local football has been government interest, support and buy-in.
“Unfortunately, the current administration has offered none of these things, to the detriment of local football at the youth, semi-pro and professional levels. Government’s support for youth and community football leagues across the country is at an all-time low, at a time where crime is at an all-time high.
“Coincidence? I think not. With no initiatives to stimulate sport and youth activity in troubled communities, what do you expect?”
Sancho, a former national defender who played in he 2006 World Cup finals, echoed the concern of national coach, Dennis Lawrence, that the uncertainty over the future of the Pro League may have troubling repercussions for national teams.
He said, “The Pro League is literally on the verge of collapse with millions worth of prize money and promised subventions still being owed to clubs by the government. We have been given no assurances of whether these obligations will be paid. All the while the Ministry is rife with sexual scandals and abuse of power while local football is on life support.”
Although a lack of funds has been cited by the Ministry as the reason for the decrease in financial support, Sancho, a former Minister of Sports rubbished this claim, saying: “It’s not that funds are scarce, they are just being misappropriated. Could you imagine that the Pro League is on the verge of financial collapse, yet the Ministry is building a $150 million stadium in Diego Martin. For whom? If there is no league then what is the point?”
Sancho, the owner of Central FC, a three-time championship winning club of the T&T Pro League, pointed out that professional football as an industry that employs over 300 people directly and hundreds more indirectly. No government should stand by and watch hundreds of people, most of which come from troubled communities, lose their livelihood. We have seen our national coach frustrated by having to select players who haven’t played a competitive game for over four months and are not even training full time. If the Pro League collapses we can basically kiss our chances of future World Cup qualification goodbye.”
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