“Government’s involvement in football around the world is a norm.” This was the response from the T&T Pro League’s Acting Chairman Brent Sancho following a statement by Minister of Sports and Community Development Shamfa Cudjoe recently that the T&T Pro League will not receive any funds from her government until a proper business plan is submitted.
The Sports Minister in a recent radio interview on i95.5fm on Monday made it clear that any funds or any investment to football in particular and sports, in general, to be made by the government, will be given specifically for the growth and development of local athletes.
Cudjoe said that government has, for more than 16 years, invested in the T&T Pro League with the intention that it would become self-sufficient, but it has not happened.
Sancho told Guardian Media Sports on Wednesday that: “One of the things we have to realize is that the government’s support in football, whether it be in T&T or anywhere else in the world, it is something that is the norm. You will find it very hard to go to a country and see that the government isn’t involved in some way, form or fashion. In fact, in Spain recently, the government funded heavily the Women’s Football League, so the government’s involvement is something that is part and parcel of the development of the sport. If you look at it from what football means to this country, and the important role it plays, that alone, I expect that that will continue. I would expect that from whatever conversations, that there will be a short-term remedy, while we’re looking at the long-term picture.”
Sancho, a member of the T&T 2010 World Cup team and owner of T&T Pro League outfit- Central FC, which is commonly known as ‘The Sharks’ explained further - “It is key to understand that we need a vibrant football league to achieve our goals from a national perspective. Anytime our national team is successful, it is because we’ve had a vibrant League, and this time it’s no different. So I expect that the government would come on board and I expect that corporate T&T will play an integral role in making sure that the League will be played.”
After some 14 to 16 months without the sport being played, Sancho said the Board of the T&T Pro League and its members are very much aware that it has led to unemployment among its players and staff members which is not good at all.
According to Sancho, who is a part-time television colour analysis with Sportsmax: “We are very conscious of this situation and we are now looking at what is possible, to at least, try to play football, with all due respect to the COVID-19 measures, this season rather than later.”
Sancho, a former Minister of Sports in 2015, added that a decision was taken to stage a united League between the T&T Pro League and the Super League, discussion about a business plan is still fresh, as it involves representatives from both leagues, as well as members of the T&T Football Association which is being facilitated by the FIFA- appointed Normalisation Committee which assumed office November last year after a lengthy court battle between the former TTFA executive led by William Wallace and FIFA after the latter was removed from office.