Fed-up of being denied the opportunity to play football, a group of players, coaches and other football officials will take to the streets of Port-of-Spain, including at the office of Minister of Sports and Community Development Shamfa Cudjoe on Thursday morning, to air their concerns on why football is not being played.
The group is being led by Jefferson George, president of the Unified Football Coaches of T&T and Michael De Four, coach of Cunupia FC and others, calling themselves concerned citizens of football.
Knowing about the limitations to protest or march, the group has printed jerseys they believe will help convey their message. The group will assemble at a meeting point in the capital city on Thursday morning and will parade throughout the streets, focuing on several Ministries, De Four said yesterday.
Their concerns stem from a written request made by the Ascension Football Tournament of T&T to Minister of Health Terrance Deyalsingh, asking for permission to host its football competition.
The request was supported by a list of some 30 COVID-19 guidelines to be followed by all, to ensure the safety and protection of all involved, either taking part in the games, officiating, or supporting.
However, Deyalsingh in a written response a few days later blanked the tournament, based on the current delta variant which has been sweeping through communities in T&T.
Following an announcement by Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley to ‘vaccinate to operate’ a few months ago, it was further announced that restaurants, bars and casinos were also opened within the limitations of safe zones.
De Four insisted that his members are not into the business of breaking the laws, hence why they’re not playing football although the sport is allegedly going on at different locations across the country.
He said: “We’re in a state of disarray when the government could announce that fully vaccinated and you can drink alcohol in safe zones, and the same thing applies to go in the casinos, and we are fully vaccinated, referees and everybody but you’re saying no.
"You said, 'vaccinate to operate', that was a government slogan, but here it is an entity, is saying hey, everybody has been vaccinated and we’re ready to go, and you’re telling them no. So, we have a little issue with that, because the less we play football, the more the industry crumbles and crumbles, making it more difficult to recover from where we were, or attaining the goals we would like to attain.”
Not much will be said during the walk, with the hope that as people (players/coaches etc) following the call to be vaccinated to operate, that the message will be sent loud and clear to the powers that be.
“We will be marching through Port-of-Spain, we’re going to touch one or two ministries. Of course, the Ministry of Sports must get in touch, but we will pass around it and then come back down the road during a peaceful walk.
"I think it will be a combination of the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Sports. I will not be able to call out all the ministries, although I would like the ministers and the sports minister to show some compassion towards the sports fraternity and work with us as sports enthusiasts, at least to overcome this hurdle," De Four said.