Tue, Jun

Cudjoe tells clubs: 'Stop making excuses'

Minister of Sports and Community Development Shamfa Cudjoe believes football clubs expressing concerns that they are unable to train because of restrictions are only making excuses.

Since the government's return-to-sports order on January 23, clubs have not taken to the training pitch for several reasons, including a violation of the law of the land and their inability to assemble all their players.

Richard Ferguson, the owner of Terminix La Horquetta Rangers who is set to put on the Ascension Invitational Football League next month, said it is still against the law to begin training. Other clubs are complaining of not having an enclosed facility to train and play while others have resorted to recruiting younger players as it would be more economically feasible.

Speaking to Guardian Media Sports on Wednesday Cudjoe, whose decision it was to have on-the-field sports action this year, said clubs are making excuses without trying. She explained the Ministry of Health Regulations has catered for all eventualities.

"That's an excuse I am telling you because if you don't have a naturally enclosed facility you can cordon off your area and so on because there is legislation that provides for us to approve facilities. So let's say a specific group is playing at X place and they can explain how they cordon off and control their crowd in their proposal, of course, we will consider it and grant the approval accordingly. But if you have never made an application or a proposal, or even tried, and then say this thing isn't working, that is an excuse," the minister explained.

To date, three organisations have received approval by the T&T Football Association to stage tournaments this year - the Tiger Tanks under-20 Tournament, the Ascension Invitational Football Tournament which is scheduled to begin in mid-March and the Next Level Consulting Under-19 Development Tournament that is set to kick-off later this year.

Cudjoe said her ministry and the sports company have given sporting bodies and its officials' ample opportunity to express their concerns about the scheduled return-to-sport play, saying: " When you apply for clearance to train, you have to tell us we intend to train and play at this venue and so on, or this is how we intend to control the crowd. But to say you can't train because you don't have access to an enclosed area, that is an excuse.

We met with groups, we had a meeting inviting sporting bodies so that they can ask questions and so on, and anybody who is truly concerned about those things would have been at that meeting, and still if they have questions they can ask SPoRTT or ask the ministry so you can't say it's not working if you haven't tried."