Walter Alibey - Senior Sports Reporter
National and international teams preparing for competition in the future are now allowed to resume training.
Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley announced on Saturday at the Ministry of Health virtual press conference while providing an update on the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic update at the Diplomatic Centre in St Ann’s, but he told teams waiting for domestic action to wait a while longer, giving the assurance that more will be done for sports once they can do so.
Rowley’s permission comes on the heels of a request by national coach Terry Fenwick to National Security Minister Stuart Young, for his team to resume training ahead of next year’s CONCACAF Gold Cup and FIFA World Cup Qualifying action in March.
According to the Prime Minister: “We know that we have a number of sporting teams who are anxious to get engage in preparation for competition, at home and abroad, so we are now going to allow all sporting teams that are engaged in national competition, international competition, those teams can now go back to full activity. And of course, if they are to have persons other than the team around, they are to remain in groups of no more than 10.”
Dr Rowley also said, “We are without spectators now but groups of 10 support for the team, for example, you may have a parent or two, you may have support staff and so. It is hoped that if the numbers continue to go in the direction they are going, we should be able to do a bit more, with respect to sporting activities, if we do not see negative reactions to the opening up that we are doing now, we will see more casual sporting activity in the context of what I said earlier on.”
Speaking to Guardian Media Sports soon after the Prime Minister’s announcemen, national senior coach Fenwick said they have got the 17th of November as the last FIFA window to play games and to get players together, which he sees as too short notice, saying they may not get anything done in that space of time.
According to Fenwick: “our next window that comes around is World Cup qualifiers in March next year, so we are already right up against it, recognising that we are still on a FIFA ban.”
Fenwick is expecting an influx of players from India, Central America, North America etc to join the team, but he said he will leave everything in the hands of the normalisation committee.
Meanwhile, the manager of the team Basil Thompson said while he welcomes the permission by the government, his team still cannot take the field to prepare until they receive clearance from the sport’s world governing body.
FIFA suspended T&TFA on September 24 for violation of its Statutes by going to the local court to settle an issue it had with the FIFA, for appointing a Normalisation Committee to replace it (TTFA) in March this year.
The appointment came after an investigation on the status of the TTFA in February that concluded the sport had been on the brink of insolvency by the William Wallace-led administration, which included vice presidents Clynt Taylor, Joseph Sam Phillip and Susan Joseph-Warrick.
However, the Court of Appeal overturned a decision by High Court Judge Carol Gobin to recognise the Wallace-led TTFA as the managers of football oF T&T.
The ruling of the Appeal Court handed FIFA the power to re-appoint the normalisation committee to run local football, a decision that s set to lift the suspension of the FIFA and enable T&T to play in all FIFA-sanctioned competitions.
Thompson yesterday said he welcomes the permission of not only his team, but all the other national teams to train. However, he made it clear that while his staff and players are ready to take the field for action, they believe it would not be wise to do so until the official clearance is given by the FIFA.
The TTFA was given a deadline date of December 18 to deal with all court-related matters with the FIFA before the suspension will be lifted. Only Wednesday (November 3) FIFA general secretary Fatma Samoura, in a letter to the chairman of the normalisation committee Robert Hadad, said the FIFA acknowledged the efforts of the High Court and the sport’s membership to remove all the matters against the FIFA from the court and call for the return of the normalisation committee, noting that the FIFA will soon offer its response.
So the national junior volleyball team has been in training.