Wed, May

Manchester Easter Cup

MINISTER of Foreign and Caricom Affairs Dr Amery Browne has confirmed a report that a young player who travelled to England with the Jaric Titans Sports Development Club did not return on Friday with the rest of the club.

According to an online article, the 11-year-old boy, who plays for the Signal Hill-based Brother Ry Football Academy, lost his passport and was unable to travel with the members of the club.

The contingent, who had travelled to the UK to participate in the Manchester International Easter Cup from March 29-31, returned to Tobago around 5pm on a British Airways flight from London’s Gatwick Airport to the ANR Robinson International Airport.

The article said the T&T High Commission in London is arranging documents so that the boy, who travelled as an unaccompanied minor, could return to T&T.

Jaric Titans manager Tracey Coldeira, the article said, has remained in London with the child. However, it is uncertain whether the child will be back in Tobago for the start of the school term on Monday.

In a brief Sunday Newsday interview via WhatsApp, Browne said, “Just about every aspect of that expedition has been unfortunate and regrettable. The saga has continued, with an ongoing circumstance involving a particular child who is receiving assistance from the T&T High Commission team in London with respect to the provision of emergency travel documentation. We are giving this our determined attention.”

The club, led by managing director and head coach Brian Browne, came under heavy criticism after it was revealed that the trip had been arranged without adequate funding for accommodation for some 100 players.

As a result, the group, which included about 55 adults, had to scramble for accommodation when they arrived in the UK to compete in the tournament. So grave was the situation, a GoFundMe page was set up to raise money to provide shelter for the group while in Manchester. The group was later temporarily accommodated at the Hilton Garden Inn, connected to the city’s Old Trafford Stadium.

On March 30, THA Chief Secretary Farley Augustine described the situation as regrettable, adding he was particularly concerned about the children. He said the THA had made contact with the organisers of the event to determine what was owed by way of accommodation, meals and other incidentals.

“So we are awaiting that sort of information. When we get that information, I will engage the executive council in a responsible conversation about the matter to see how we can ensure that we protect the children – notice I am not saying the adults – and ensure that we can return the children who are there safely to Tobago. So we are going about this in the most responsible way possible,” Augustine said at a function to commemorate Spiritual/Shouter Baptist Liberation Day in Signal Hill.

On that occasion, he also said in future, groups wanting to leave Tobago to participate in any overseas engagement must have the necessary funding to cover all their expenses.

“I should say this to everyone. You are to leave Tobago – whether you are a cultural group, a sport group, a school group, a church group – you are leaving Tobago, I will suggest you have all your ducks in a row before leaving.

“If it is that you reach out to the THA and the help was not forthcoming on time, or the answer is no from the THA, or the answer from the THA is that you can’t get all that is required – once you know that you have to leave Tobago and you don’t have that which is sufficient to manage while you are away from home, my advice would be to postpone to a time that you can meet those demands.”

SOURCE: T&T Newsday