Trinidad and Tobago national Under-15 footballers were unable to get a flight out of the country yesterday and did not play their opening match of the inaugural Concacaf Under-15 Championship now taking place in the Cayman Islands.
Late yesterday, Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation (TTFA) general secretary Sheldon Phillip confirmed that the team did not leave the country as anticipated, following the very late release of funds by the Ministry of Sport.
The T&T team had originally planned to leave on Tuesday, but late release of Government sponsorship saw them without tickets and funds. After money was released on Tuesday, the adjusted plan was to have the team fly to the Cayman Islands via a special COPA Airlines flight and play their first match later that night. Those plans also fell through.
“The situation as it stands, is that we were unable to get any flights out of Trinidad and Tobago. We informed Concacaf and asked that the opening match be postponed to a later date and that the next match (today against Honduras) be shifted to a later time in the day,” Philip said.
“Due to the funding issues, we have gotten caught up in the typical travel problems at this time of the year. We are trying to get them to leave tomorrow (today), but the details still have to be worked out. We are in constant contact with Concacaf to let them know what the situation is.”
Meanwhile, the tournament began with Belize beating St Lucia 1-0 and Jamaica hammering Grenada 4-0 on the opening day of competition.
Following a tightly contested first half that was well contested in the midfield, Alvin Sifontes struck from inside the 18-yard box with 14 minutes remaining in regulation time to give Belize a narrow 1-0 victory at the Truman Bodden Sports Complex in George Town, Cayman Islands. The match was the first in competition history to pit sides from the Caribbean and Central America against each other.
Meanwhile, Peter Campbell scored two goals as Jamaica defeated Grenada 4-0. The first half ended scoreless thanks to the outstanding play of Grenada goalkeeper Reshane Houston, who made several tremendous saves.
Three minutes after the interval though, the Jamaicans jumped ahead 2-0 thanks to Campbell’s brace. With less than ten minutes remaining in the game, Stephen Malcolm (63’) and Justin McMaster (66’) added to their tallies.
T&T Guardian Reports.
T&T’s Under 15 boys team is still on local soil due to the unavailability of flights leaving Port-of-Spain en route to Cayman Islands.
Initially the team was scheduled to depart yesterday morning before Copa Airlines informed the TTFA that there were insufficient seats available on its flights to Panama City from which the team was due to connect to the Cayman Islands.
Further attempts to get the team out via other existing routes proved futile again due to the unavailability of seats. This has left the TTFA with the option of securing a charter flight to the Caymans today.
TTFA general secretary Sheldon Phillips has been in discussion with various government offices and personnel on this matter and is awaiting further word. The TTFA secured funding assistance from the Ministry of Sport for the team’s travel earlier this week but Copa Airlines was unable to guarantee sufficient bookings, advising the TTFA of an unsuccessful attempt to arrange for use of a larger flight yesterday.
Concacaf, meanwhile, has been advised of the team’s travel woes and is expected to announce a rescheduled kick off date for T&T’s opening match against St Kitts/Nevis which was scheduled for last night. The tournament, featuring 24 nations, will bring together more than 400 players between the ages of 13-15, allowing them a first experience at higher level football on a regional stage.