Wed, Nov

Merere Gonzales, SSFL president

THE SECONDARY Schools Football League (SSFL) has banned its scheduled games at African Ground, Enterprise, Chaguanas for the rest of the 2022 season.

On Saturday evening, several gunshots were fired from a white panel van near the basketball court at the ground. Nine-year-old Jamal Modeste was struck in the back by a bullet and died at the Chaguanas Health Centre.

Four men were held in connection with the killing but were later released.

The African Ground was used by Chaguanas North Secondary’s junior and girls’ teams during the 2022 SSFL season.

Merere Gonzales, SSFL president, said on Tuesday, “The ground is not going to be used, full stop.”

Asked if that was a decision by the school’s authorities, Gonzales replied, “That’s a league decision, so the school would have to adhere to it.”

He added, “The lower division (teams) are also advised not to use it.”

The SSFL said in a media release, “The safety of all our players, officials, fans and other stakeholders remains of utmost importance (to the league). The SSFL wishes to extend heartfelt condolences to the family of the young deceased.”

Germaine Raymond, manager of the Chaguanas North Secondary teams, said that the SSFL’s decision will seriously affect the team’s participation in the 2022 season, especially since there are a lack of alternative venues in the Central Zone.

“We’re back to square one,” she said on Tuesday. “I thought I would have ticked this process off of my list of things to do. The majority of the grounds in Central are in a state of disrepair and cannot be used. We cannot use New Settlement in years gone by, we would have gone Woodford Lodge. All of those grounds (are) not available.”

She continued, “(Edinburgh) 500 we would have used in the 2019 season, apparently there is some (trouble) with getting the use of that ground. So African Ground was the ground (available) and we got some assistance from the (Chaguanas) Borough to get it ready. I feel like I don’t know where to turn.

“The school ground is in a state of disrepair,” Raymond added. “And it’s not only our school. Presentation (Chaguanas), their school ground is in disrepair (as well as) Carapichaima.”

Raymond pointed out that the majority of the Championship Division games in the Central Zone took place at the Couva East school ground but the surface is suffering due to overuse. “I really don’t know what the Central Zone is going to do in terms of accessing grounds for the season to be completed.”

With regards to the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva, Raymond said that it is costly for the schools to use the venue, especially since the majority of the schools are struggling to gain funds.

Concerning the mood of the Chaguanas North team, in light of the recent SSFL decision, Raymond said, “This (has) put a damper on things. We train on the African Ground as well. Since the incident, we haven’t had training either. The younger (teams) are training in school but (the ground) is not adequate for use.”

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