Sun, Jun

De Four says $50,000 Gov’t/FIFA grant insufficient.

It will cost Cunupia FC, the club considered the pride of the central area as well as the pride of parts of the eastern areas (from Tunapuna to Sangre Grande), to get a regional license that will enable them to participate in the T&T Premier League.

The league is set to kick off on March 10 with Cunupia FC being among 12 teams, inclusive of Caledonia AIA, Central FC, Club Sando, La Horquetta Rangers, Point Fortin Civic Centre, Police FC, Prisons Services, San Juan Jabloteh, Defence Force, AC Port of Spain and W Connection that will begin action.

More than 75 percent of the teams have received domestic licenses, but they need regional licenses to be able to contest the CONCACAF Club Championships if they finish as one of the top two teams in the local league.

Cunupia FC coach Michael De Four said it could cost his team a minimum of $10,000 a year for 2021 and 2022 and a maximum of $75,000 to get the signature of an auditor on their audited financial statements, as will cost any other club.

Though all the other teams will be in action on March 10 at various venues, the central-based team will play its first match on April 26 in a rescheduled affair at the Arima Velodrome against Caledonia AIA from 4 pm.

Though Cunupia FC contested the Ascension Football Tournament last year, the team has been struggling to recover from the impact of the covid-19 pandemic which grounded the sport for two years and led to the destruction of most teams. Because of this De Four has had to recruit a core of new players all between the 19-24 age bracket which he said needs crucial technical work ahead of the start of the league.

Like the other teams, Cunupia will be the beneficiary of a $50, 000-a-month grant, courtesy of the government and the sport’s world governing body -FIFA, to be used to pay salaries for players and staff.

The funds will be wired directly into the players’ bank accounts monthly. However, De Four said while they are grateful for the financial help being given, his team has been on the lookout for corporate assistance if they are to meet their expenses.

“Fifty thousand dollars ($50,000) cannot pay salaries for 16 players and staff so we have to get a sponsor. Remember clubs will have to get funding for uniforms (two sets for home and away), insurance, pay for audited accounts, transport and refreshments and supplements for players etc.

At a launch of the T&T Premier League in January, Minister of Sports and Community Development Shamfa Cudjoe called for clubs to play a part in making themselves self-sustainable, saying the government had spent well over $87 million on funding the T&T Pro League.

De Four said while his club remains grateful for the funding, he wanted to remind the public of the impact the sport of football had on the national community, saying it is a crime-fighting tool, a tool to combat the many social issues plaguing the country, a tool to fight against obesity and other health problems, and a vehicle that players can use to get a solid education and employment.

“As a matter of fact in years to come the government may have to pay less money for medication because of football. I would like the various government ministries to publicly support a fund for sports because of the multiple roles it plays.

We can ask if the minister did a poll to see how many people want football to be played as it is a national issue, so I can humbly say that her statement was not supported by anything,” De Four said.

Cunupia FC will continue preparation this evening at 6 pm at Five Rivers Secondary School in Arouca.