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Acting T&T Pro League Chairman Brent Sancho

Desperate to get the T&T Pro League active again, a request has been made to the Ministry of Health for vaccines for all of its members, comprising club members and other staff to be vaccinated in anticipation of a start soon.

Brent Sancho, chairman of the League revealed this as part of a desperate call for the football league to be revived if the country's national teams are to be successful, saying the amount needed can be from 600 to 800 vaccines.

Speaking to Guardian Media Sports on Tuesday Sancho said: "We are in dire straits now, and while we understand the call by the Minister of Sports for a proper business plan to be presented before financial assistance can be given, we must understand that we're in the midst of a pandemic (COVID-19). Now is not the time to chastise but to collaborate and find a solution."

Minister of Sports and Community Development Shamfa Cudjoe is reluctant to release funds to the 22-year-old T&T Pro League, saying on a radio programme a few weeks ago, that her government has been putting money into the League for more than 16 years now, with a promise that there will be sustainability, but it has not happened.

The league's call came long before Government, via another COVID-19 update, rolled out a massive 'Vaccinate to Operate' drive just over a week ago:

"The conversation about vaccination of players within the T&T Pro League started last year when we were about to embark on a restart, and looking possibly at the Ascension League. The conversation even went as far as the discussions surrounding the purchasing of vaccines by one of the club owners of the League, so it's something that we do certainly welcome with both hands, we've had discussions over the weekend as well about that initiative.

"Clubs are currently sending in their numbers as it relates to players that are interested in vaccination. And we've also had discussions as it relates to the educational process of whether we can have the Ministry of Health, through its various offices, to have a talk, as it relates to giving out information on vaccination.

"It is a decision that one has to make, it is a personal decision but we want to make sure that our players, our staff, our employees, can make an informed decision so it's important that we give that sort of dispensation to our people," Sancho revealed.

The T&T Pro League, inactive since 2018, has been working on a COVID-19 Protocol document that will be instrumental in the League returning to play this year. The ideas in the document are expected to work in conjunction with the Ministry of Health.

Sancho in a response to Cudjoe's funding statement that government would only give money for athlete or player-development only, reminded all that club-owners in the League have collectively invested an estimated $400 million in the since its inception in of the League in January 1999, noted: "And it has been an industry that has seen great production levels as it relates to the national teams. If you look at the 2006 World Cup team, at least 85 per cent of the players at some point in time, would have at least kicked a ball in the T&T Pro League. So, a lot of conversations surrounding what has happened to the Bahamas game and the ousting of the World Cup campaign, so it's so important that we understand that this is not just a T&T Football Association issue, this is a national issue, so the most important thing is that we have a vibrant League.

"So the Ministry of Sports, corporate T&T, everyone has to come together to find a palatable solution to invest in the sport and make sure it can move forward." 

SOURCE: T&T Guardian