A closed border, coupled with no responses from Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley and his Minister of National Security Stuart Young, have prevented national midfielder footballer Khaleem Hyland, who is in Saudi Arabia, defenders Daneil Cyrus and Randanfar Abu Bakr and four other who are stranded in neighbouring Barbados from returning home, due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic which is wreaking havoc in countries throughout the world, the players said yesterday afternoon.
Coincidentally, some 33 nationals who were based in Barbados successfully negotiated their return home on Monday via a chartered flight.
on Wednesday Steve Davis, the agent for Hyland, 30, who plays professionally in Saudi Arabia for Al-Faisaly said he could not understand the reluctance of the T&T government to help other citizens back home, after numerous attempts for the past three weeks.
Speaking to Guardian Media Sports Davis said: "All the other overseas players at the club were taken back home by their respective countries except Hyland, and I don't understand why. We have reached out to the T&T Embassy there in Saudi Arabia and also in England via email and they have relayed our message to get Hyland back home. Khaleem himself had contacted Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley three weeks ago and still, there has been no help forthcoming."
The government announced the closure of all T&T borders on March 22, a month ago in an attempt to combat the spread of COVID-19 which has claimed thousands of lives worldwide. However, the government has been bombarded by citizens in different parts of the globe requesting to return home.
Footballers though appear to have been severely hard-hit by the closure of the borders with Hyland, a player who has been a staple on the TT senior football team as captain and inspiration, leading the list. It is understood also that national defender Daneil Cyrus, who is based in India with Mohun Bagan AC in the I League, along with Randanfar Abu Bakr (Churchill Brothers in I League), as well as the quartet of Shackiel Henry, Shirlo Johnson, Dwight Pope and Garnet Diaz, all of whom have been plying their trade in the Coca Cola Barbados Football League with Paradise FC.
Hyland, a native of Carenage told Guardian Media Sports: "I emailed Minister of National Security Stuart Young and I messaged the Prime Minister on his Instagram account three weeks ago, but have not received a response from neither. I also reached out to the TT Embassy in London and was told to keep abreast with the travel arrangements and then respond."
With Hyland, who is also a Belgian citizen but has his family in T&T, growing increasingly frustrated, said he also found out that the Saudi Arabian government has given a four-day window for non-nationals to return to their respective countries at no cost. "The problem though is that our borders are closed so no flights will be going there," Hyland explained on Wednesday.
Efforts to contact Minister Young proved futile, while Sports Minister Shamfa Cudjoe said she's will be helping the players get home.
Meanwhile, the quartet in Barbados seemed to have given up hope of returning home anytime soon. According to Henry "If Stuart Young and the government wanted to help us return home, they would have done so a long time ago."
Henry a former W Connection and Central FC player who has been the voice of the players in the regional island, said they have reached out to almost everyone possible for help, including Young via email, letter and through close members of his party and the government, but to no avail.
"We were trying to get on to the flight with the 33 people on Monday but nobody contacted us," Henry noted. The TT borders are scheduled to open in the coming weeks, and Henry said he and his colleagues will be hoping to use that opportunity to get home.