While Youth Sports continue to be in limbo, more so the Secondary School Football League (SSFL) in which most of the schools are usually in training during the July and August vacation, one school has decided to suspend its practice sessions until further notice.
On Saturday during the virtual press conference with the Ministry of Health, the Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh is urging parents to keep their children at home if they are ill.
He said, “Whilst there are no regulations to stop anybody from playing sports, we have constantly asked parents to do the responsible thing.”
The minister admitted, “We can’t legislate for every single outcome but it is time for collective social responsibility.”
Indicating if he was a parent of a young child, Deyalsingh said, “I would not let my child at this point in time, go out and play team sports.”
“If the child has to burn out excess energy, I would burn out that excess energy with the child by playing football at home, cricket at home, let him run around the house, whatever. That is what we have to encourage parents to do.”
Acknowledging that, “Being cooped up is not a good thing mentally, physiologically, all that…but there are 16 million cases of COVID-19 in the entire world and 600,000 odd persons have died.”
Two weeks ago, the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Dr Roshan Parasram said all events with children should be held back until September.
So far, the T&T Pro League which organisers and operates the Youth Football League has called off the season until further notice pending a change in advice from the authorities, while the National Basketball Federation of T&T (NBFTT) has had to postpone its boys and girls under-17 training sessions for the past week. The NBFTT was preparing teams to participate in the FIBA Under-17 Skills Challenge virtual championships which are carded for next month.
Following an SSFL Executive meeting on Friday, Tevon La Rose, the Second Vice President of the SSFL and the teacher-in-charge of football at Trinity, Moka, has decided to stop his players from training due to the latest detection of new COVID-19 cases announced by the Ministry of Health in the past week.
At the SSFL executive meeting on Friday, La Rose said in light of the new developments with regards to the new local cases, the SSFL has asked the Ministry of Education to communicate to them formally concerning training, saying the CMO has called for all youth activity to be stopped until September.
On July 15, the CMO had 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.
La Rose explained that while most to all schools have been in training presently, as they anticipate the 2020 schools football league, his school has taken the lead by deciding not to train until they receive clearance from the ministry to do so.
"I don't think some people are seeing how serious this is. Children tend to be more A-symptomatic than adults, and if one child carries that into training, it will affect at least 24 homes, including the homes of the coaches, so we are going to take the smart step and stop until further notice," La Rose said.
He promises to provide further information to the group once it becomes available.
The schools league had been put on hold until the Ministry of Health in collaboration with the CMO, gives it the go-ahead to host the competition. Acting president Phillip Fraser requested two weeks ago that the respective zones come up with suggestions with a format if the ministry of health gives the all-clear for the SSFL to proceed.
Over the past two weeks, Dr Parasram, the Health Terrence Deyalsingh and the Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith have had disagreements with regards having youths participate in sports. Commissioner Griffith said, "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."
Deyalsingh stressed, “These are not normal times. These are the new normals and the new normals demand of parents to protect your children but at the same time, keep them occupied at home. Kick the ball with them at home. Let them run and burn up all that energy, so while there are no regulations to prevent certain activities, we are asking for common sense to prevail."