Minister of Sports and Community Development Shamfa Cudjoe is blasting two of football's key stakeholders- the T&T Pro League and the T&T Football Association, as she called on them to be serious about the business of the sports.
Cudjoe's comment came amid feverish attempts by her and her government to satisfy the demand for sports to be returned to play, following the total shutdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.
Cudjoe, who admitted to doing minor running here and there, had been the subject of major attacks by members of the football fraternity, some accusing her of stifling football.
In January, Cudjoe responded by issuing a return-to-sport order in safe zones, which, although it was well-received, has not led to actual on-the-field play. This she blamed on the inaction of the sport's key stakeholders.
"We're moving towards a place of getting serious about the business of sports and T&TFA, Pro League and all those stakeholders have to get serious about the business of sports too.
The way people were crying out before January when the announcement was made, I expected more applications, especially from national governing bodies and the more organised groups. The way, for instance, the Pro League was crying out, I expected to see the Pro League and the T&TFA pull up their socks and get out there but that is not happening.
The pro league was crying out and saying we are suffering football and all that kind of comment and now that the ban has been lifted since when, where is the pro league, where is the T&TFA, where is this Unified League they have been talking about.
You have Ascension running out before the Pro League, you have this other group- Brian Jordan Under-19 League and they. They're getting ready, they're doing the back and forth with the TTFA right now, we've been talking about their support and so on."
According to Cudjoe: "You have other community groups and so on getting ready, you have Carenage getting together to do community football, so I am just saying that I expected some of the organised groups to show their return to play, their activities.
The response has been good from the national governing bodies and sport serving bodies but I was looking specifically at the ones who have been agitating before and I don't see them saying anything."
Only recently Brent Sancho, owner of T&T Pro League outfit Central FC called on the government to figure out how it was going to support the T&T Pro League financially, noting that the league is and has always been critical as a provider of players to the country's national teams.
Sancho also made it clear that leagues around the world all receive support from their respective governments.
However, Cudjoe said: " The pro league has to figure out what is its real argument because when we went in to deal with the pro league to have the three-year arrangement, the agreement was after the three years of support in which we would have provided about $11.6 million for them to run their league, for them to come back with a plan.
They wanted to unite the T&T Super League and the pro league and so on in collaboration with the T&TFA. I think they're having their own issues at that level as it relates to how this league is actually going to work.
They were to submit their way forward, their plan of action but this has not come as yet, so how do you expect the government or me to fund that application that is not before us, that we've been calling out for, for however long.
I saw someone saying I stifled football, but where are the football stakeholders who are supposed to be out there doing what they need to do to ensure that football benefits the lives of these young people in these communities, and that T&TFA returns to some level of normalcy, and that the clubs are actually out there playing and not only providing athletic opportunities but income-generating opportunities for the people who rely on sports as a means of income.