Shamfa Cudjoe-----use

Sport and Community Development minister: Shamfa Cudjoe

With the rollout of the Covid-19 vaccine and new daily infections remaining low, the country is now in a position to roll back certain restrictions that have been in place for the past year.

The latest restriction to be lifted is the ban on recreational sporting activities.

Minister of Sport and Community Development Shamfa Cudjoe delivered the news yesterday, announcing that come Monday, the public is free to engage in outdoor sporting activities once they involve 22 people or fewer.

Speaking during the Ministry of Health’s virtual media briefing yesterday, Cudjoe said sports such as football and cricket can resume but strictly on a recreational basis.

Restrictions remain in place for larger tournaments and leagues.

“We are not going to open up yet for leagues and that type of large activity that may attract larger crowds,” Cudjoe said. “We are allowing outdoor sport only and that will be for recreational purposes...we will not be rolling back for sports that are indoors and sport that requires leagues and national competitions and so on or even community competitions just yet. This is solely for the purpose of those who want to go out and play for their physical fitness and for their mental health. It is important that sporting bodies, sporting enthusiasts are knowledgeable and they understand what we are doing right now. It is important that we scale back or roll back slowly and we monitor the situation properly before we encourage larger gatherings.”

Regarding the FIFA World Cup qualifier against Guyana, Cudjoe said the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) had applied to the Ministry of Health for clearance to have the players come in to T&T.

She said the Ministry offered three options, one being bringing in the players in a timeframe where they could complete the mandatory two-week quarantine.

The other options include postponing the game to a later date to allow for proper quarantining or for the game to be played in another country that both teams could agree on.

“So it will be a matter of changing the date of the game or to agreeing to play on another ground. I’ve had the opportunity to reach out to some other stakeholders within the Caribbean and representatives of the football fraternity within the Caribbean and I’m well aware that FIFA would have offered the advice to countries where we have these protocols in place as it relates to Covid that they can arrange to play in other places,” Cudjoe said.

“We must remember, as passionate as we are about wanting to play at home on home ground and wanting home ground advantage, our priority is to ensure that our citizens are safe and that even these same footballers who are coming in are safe because they are coming from places like Denmark, the United Kingdom, the USA, and other places where other strains of Covid, the South African strain and the UK strain are seen.”

Cudjoe said the best option for the qualifying match against Guyana scheduled for March 25 is for the game to be held in Curacao.

“As this practice has been done by St Vincent and the Grenadines, I think that option should be taken. But at the end of the day, we await the response of TTFA on this matter.”

TTFA disappointed match not in T&T

In a response later yesterday, the TTFA announced that the match would be played in the Dominican Republic.

The Association said it was disappointed that the Ministry of Health did not allow the match to be held in T&T in a “hot bubble” environment.

“Over the last few months, we have been in discussions with the Ministry of Health, Sports Company of Trinidad and Tobago and other relevant Government agencies. Based on these discussions, numerous proposals and scenarios were put forward to host the match in Trinidad, but unfortunately none were ultimately successful, which would satisfy our FIFA mandates for international competitions,” the football body said.

The Association lamented that it had worked tirelessly with FIFA, CONCACAF and the Government of Trinidad and Tobago to find solutions “but regrettably a compromise could not be found”.

The qualifier will be held at the Pan American Stadium, San Cristobal, Dominican Republic. The date of the match remains March 25. See back page

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