A decision was taken by the Board of Directors of the T&T Pro League during a meeting on Thursday, a day after Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith said permission was granted by the Ministry of Health for the Youth Pro League to go ahead as planned.
Chairman of the T&T Pro League Brent Sancho said: " The Board decided at present to not pursue the playing of the Youth Pro League because of the statements of the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Dr Roshan Parasram which clearly states that, although it is not against the law, it is not advised."
Sancho did not rule out the action in the Youth Pro League entirely, saying if permission is granted for the Secondary Schools Football League in September then there could be a change in plans, but he said, for now, the Board believes it is the best position to take at this time.
And Wednesday’s virtual Ministry of Health media press conference, Minister of National Security Stuart Young had cleared the air on whether the Youth Pro League can go ahead or not. He said, “The CMO’s advice is exactly as he stated but the regulations don’t prevent it so at the end of the day there is no law that is being broken but the medical advice is for them just to be cautious so I don’t think this is a conversation that can continue to mushroom.”
The CMO has advised that activities with children be withheld for the next two months, “Children should have been held until September. The regulations, as far as I know, don’t speak to the age of persons being able to conduct any sort of activity,” Dr Parasram said.
Meanwhile, Commissioner Griffith said on Wednesday that, "Based on their logic, if an athlete is a 16 or 17 years’ old who is a very fit, healthy, high-intensity athlete or national player in a contact sport, it becomes a concern, but not if the athlete is 18 years or over. I challenge them to show what data they can produce to show this. The CMO seems to have a concern about a 16 or 17-year-old playing sport, but he does not have a concern when a set of children are packed into a cinema watching a movie."
However, Sancho was high in praise for the Commissioner Griffith for his attempts to ensure that there is play for the youths. "I would like to personally thank Mr Griffith for his pursuit and his counsel of the entire matter. I think he has been superb in all that he has been trying to facilitate for us and for youth football."
The Central FC owner and managing director sought to dismiss hints that the Youth Pro League could be held once there are proper social distancing measures put in place, saying: "We have a comprehensive COVID document that the League has prepared, we have a lot of procedural measures in place, and therefore it goes back to what I said originally, the CMO has advised, and we feel that the responsible thing to do is to opt-out at this present time."
Regarding the senior Pro League tournament, the former national defender now turns football administrator said they are having extensive discussions going on. "We have meetings next week with the Sports Company, we have had extensive discussions on the season and clubs are committed to playing football this year for sure."