THE M12 Football Revolution Camp Week, which was due to take place this week at Penco Gardens, Longdenville (catering for children between the ages of three and 14), was forced to relocate to the Edinburgh 500 Recreation Ground in Chaguanas due to opposition from the community.
But the founder of the M12 Football Revolution, national women’s footballer Ahkeela Mollon, is perplexed as to why the children from the Chaguanas region have to suffer due to the stance taken by some residents.
In a telephone interview yesterday, Mollon related, “I moved home at the beginning of the year after a lengthy career abroad and I decided to open my own coaching school.” She was later referred to someone who she initially thought was a spokesman for the residents of Penco Gardens. “I waited a week, I went back and checked him. He said ‘yeah go ahead with it because you have the blessing of the community’.
“From there, I went to the (Chaguanas Borough Corporation) and I got a letter stating that I had permission to use the ground,” she said. “Since I opened I’ve been getting hell from the residents saying the kids are attracting bad elements to their area. It’s just a small group (of residents), I don’t know who give them the authority.
They tried all how (to stop me).” But Mollon was unprepared for what she encountered when she turned up at the ground to start the camp, but saw loads of sand dumped at the venue.
“These residents used their power to show me who is boss,” she remarked. “More than 25 loads of sand, that will make the ground even worse. I have 65 kids who want the opportunity to come training. To see this now, the kids were so sad. It really breaks my heart.” Mollon added, “I felt like my heart mashed up into a million pieces.
The kids’ faces were down to the ground but we ended up moving to (Edinburgh) 500 to make sure that I fulfilled my duty.” Asked about her next step, she replied, “I don’t know. I’m confused. They say the Borough has no right to give me their ground. How are these people above the law to do this to some youths in Trinidad and Tobago? This is the only Youth Group in Longdenville.” Mayor of Chaguanas Borough Corporation Gopaul Boodhan yesterday afternoon explained that the Corporation “out of goodwill” and in the interest of helping young people did give permission for the camp. He noted though that the ground was built for use by the Penco Gardens residents and said the Penco Residents Association complained that there was no consultation which should have taken place prior.
“When the camp started, from my understanding, there was some difficulty in that it was much more (participants) than anticipated in terms of coming into the community, parking, blocking entrances etcetera.” He said the Corporation has decided a meeting needs to take place with all the parties “to see how we can have an amicable settlement.” This meeting is expected to take place before the end of the week.