Tue, Jul

Harlem Strikers in 2018

PREVIOUSLY suspended T&T Super League (TTSL) teams are elated to be back in the fold after their suspensions were lifted. Players and the communities they have entertained are now eager for football to return once the Government relaxes covid19 regulations.

On Sunday, at the 2021 Annual General Meeting (AGM) seven clubs were reinstated after being suspended in 2018. The clubs on the sidelines were Central 500, Defence Force, Harlem Strikers, 1976 Phoenix, Marabella Family Crisis Centre, WASA FC and Youth Stars.

The clubs were either non-compliant with regulations or the clubs failed to meet the registration deadline. Some of the reasons why the clubs were suspended included failing to submit their constitutions and minutes of AGMs/general meetings. The seven clubs were only observers on Sunday and were not allowed to vote.

A TTSL media release signed by league secretary Peter Thomas said the previously suspended clubs are “recognised as bonafide members of the TTSL once again as decided by the TTSL general membership.”

Speaking with Newsday, the manager of Harlem Strikers Gregory McSween said because the club was not active preparation must take place before football can resume.

“Right now that is the focus to get the ground fix because the ground in a state because nothing was going on.”

Strikers use the Ansil Elcock Recreation Ground in Caroni.

McSween, who hopes the regional corporation can assist with the preparation of the field, said the players are eager to get back on the field.

“We have our team. Every day all our players keep on calling to find out what is the status on (the football).”

On the development of the players in recent years, McSween said, “Those players accustom playing…we have to start back now from scratch with training and everything.”

Strikers attract massive crowds with Kelly Village and Warrenville among the communities that support the team. “We have 100 per cent support from the whole community…when we have football games is like a Carnival by us because we are the only team in Central in the super league.”

Playing matches in the heart of a community benefits its residents as it allows people in the area to sell drinks and food to make a dollar. Minister of Sport and Community Development Shamfa Cudjoe has called for local athletes to get vaccinated to get sport back to a level of normalcy.

McSween is urging his players to listen to the calls of the minister.

“I already told most of the players they have to be vaccinated because I have my two shots already. They might want everybody vaccinated before they could play.”

Discussing being out of the football for such a lengthy time, McSween said, “It difficult…it really was a big setback for everybody, but we were doing paperwork in the meantime.”

McSween said Strikers are compliant with all the rules and regulations.

President and coach of 1976 Phoenix Terry Williams, giving his views on being reinstated, said, “I don’t know if to feel happy or the amount of frustration that cause us. We really don’t know how to feel.”

When you come from Tobago playing at that level (is an achievement). We are not a bad team, we are a decent team.”

Phoenix are also community-based as footballers living in Bon Accord, Canaan and Crown Point make up the bulk of the team. Williams said, “The community very attached to the club.”

Williams, who believes that his club was unfairly treated over registration fees which led to the suspension, said the community was not pleased.

“It stressed the community mentally every time we hear we suspended and we can’t say the reason why…we want to go past that.” Williams said he plans to have a meeting with the players.

Manager of Defence Force Basil Thompson is satisfied his club has returned to where it belongs.

“Defence Force has always been a mainstay in the sporting sphere of the country, so we obviously delighted to be back in the fold of the super league so that we can compete and contribute to the national landscape.”

Fitness should not be an issue for Defence Force players when football resumes as Thompson said that particular area is always a priority in the organisation.

Thompson said “there will inevitably be new faces” on Defence Force when football starts.

On players being vaccinated, Thompson said, “If there is going to be any mandate for persons to be vaccinated in order to continue to play football and in order to get involved in sport we will wholeheartedly support it.”

Defence Force were compliant with all the rules but were suspended after paying their registration fee late.

SOURCE: T&T Newsday