Sat, Jul

TT Premier Football League kicks off with doubleheader in South.

When domestic football came to a halt in March 2020 because of covid19, no one anticipated a three-year absence.

On Friday, the beautiful game makes a fresh return to the local circuit with the inaugural T&T Premier Football League (TTPFL) set to kick off with a double-header at a refurbished Mahaica Sports Complex, formerly Mahaica Oval, in Point Fortin.

W Connection and Central FC play the opening fixture from 5pm while home team Point Fortin Civic Centre takes on southern rivals Club Sando from 7.30pm. An opening ceremony will be held from 4pm.

The venue, which was officially opened in October 2022, plays host to competitive domestic football for the first time. The approximately 1,795 seating is expected to be filled to capacity as the home team and travelling fans seek to catch their fill after such a lengthy downtime.

Altogether, 12 clubs in tier one will feature in a shortened season, which ends in June. Also competing are AC Port of Spain, Caledonia AIA, Cunupia FC, La Horquetta Rangers, Police FC, Prisons Services, San Juan Jabloteh and Defence Force.

The season was shortened fall in line with the Concacaf season, which enables the top two TTPFL teams to be registered in time for the Concacaf playoffs.

There will be no promotion or relegation due to a truncated season which will mean that matches will be played on weekends and during the week.

Players and teams resume action for a second time in September and in October for the first official full season with matches at the Moruga Sports Complex, Mahaica Sports Complex, La Horquetta Recreation Ground and the Ken Cooke Ground (St James Police Barracks).

T&T Football Association normalisation committee chairman Robert Hadad said he’s excited for the return of football this weekend, in addition to, the March 4 start of the Republic Cup National Youth League.

“It will be a great sight with football being played at boys, girls and senior men's levels across the country. The government, FIFA and our existing corporate partners such as Republic Bank with the National Youth League have been fantastic.

“Lots of work and collaboration with stakeholders has led us to this positive stage and we are really looking forward to it. We will continue to roll out our long term development plans and similar initiatives soon which should wet the appetite of fans and corporate partners,” he said.

Several coaches and players have a positive outlook on the new competition and are also elated for the resumption.

Speaking to TTPFL media, Caledonia AIA coach Jerry Moe said, “It’s good to have football back. It’s one thing to train but a different thing when you have games to play. It also helps for the national team (selection).

“It gives guys something to look forward to, in terms of a job, to make some money when the month comes.

“It’s a good opportunity for the young men who have ambition and want to leave Trinidad (to play overseas). The fact that the league has started back and we’re going to be playing in the Concacaf top club championship, I think it gives these guys a bigger market to aspire for.”

The league’s youngest captain, Club Sando’s 20-year old Acelino Medford, also anticipates an exciting tourney.

On his appointment as captain, ahead of several senior players, Medford said, “It feels good but the other senior players on the team can lead me through whenever times are tough. But the coaches picked me for a reason based on my leadership qualities, what I give in training every day and my professionalism. I am sure about me leading this team.

“For T&T football overall, it’s been a while and we need football being played especially for the development of young players to get the exposure so we can represent at the highest level (TT) and give our best.”

The TTPFL said an independent analysis will be conducted at the end of each season, generated from monitoring and evaluation systems that are being put in place.

A season “state-of-play” report will drive recommendations that would be considered to ensure the league’s sustainability. Any necessary changes for the league’s structure, such as facilitating promotion and relegation or an increase in the number of participating clubs, may be made subject to the relevant economic and other factors.

This weekend’s matches

Friday 10 – W Connection vs Central FC 5pm, Point Fortin Civic vs Club Sando 7.30pm (Mahaica Sporting Complex, Point Fortin)

Saturday 11 – AC Port of Spain vs Defence Force 4pm (Larry Gomes Stadium, Malabar)

Sunday 12 – Morvant Caledonia AIA vs Cunupia FC 4pm, San Juan Jabloteh vs Prisons FC 6.30pm (Arima Velodrome)


Youths lead Club Sando in Premier League opener
By Jonathan Ramnanansingh (T&T Newsday)

The return of domestic football after its three-year absence will provide opportunities for young players who have been starved of exposure, owing to the pandemic, a chance to catch the eyes of regional and international school/club scouts. So says Club Sando assistant coach Eddison Dean, whose youthful bunch of players will feature in match day one’s second fixture of the T&T Premier Football League, against hosts Point Fortin Civic, at Mahaica Sporting Complex on Friday, from 7.30pm.

Dean welcome the return of local football after such a lengthy hiatus and said his youths are eager to competitively step back on to the pitch.

Like most teams, Club Sando lost some of their senior players over the covid19 lag but has rejuvenated their talent pool with young, vibrant blood.

“Preparations are going well. We have a lot of young players because we lost some during the pandemic. We started back training in December and all the players are very much excited to return to competition,” Dean said.

Additionally, in June 2021, then Club Sando head coach Angus Eve was appointed interim senior national team coach, and had to vacate his post at the south club after just under five years.

In early 2022, former senior team striker Cornell Glen took charge of Club Sando’s U20 squad for the Tiger Tanks U20 Invitational. He was named coach of the tournament and was promoted to the club’s senior team head coach.

And while all teams will be gunning for the first post-pandemic domestic football title, Dean said experience and exposure at this top level are key for the development of his promising squad.

“It will be a very competitive one. The most important thing for Club Sando is to participate in the tournament and give the younger ones exposure at the highest level.

“All the games are going live so hopefully someone might see them from school or a club but it’s to expose them to this level of football,” he added.

Ex-Presentation College player Acelino Medford is the team captain.

“We anticipate a good contest. Everything is new for us this year but we continue on in stride and aim to do our best in the new league.”