Sport-Filler

After 22 months off the field, team sports have been given the green light to start playing again.

Yesterday, through a Ministry of Sport release, Minister of Sport and Community Development, Shamfa Cudjoe, confirmed that her Ministry’s Safe Zone Return to Play plan has been approved and will take effect from today.

“National Governing Bodies and Sport Serving Bodies will now be able to host sporting events and execute sporting activities for fully vaccinated athletes, coaches, officials, and administrators, at specific sporting facilities,” the release stated.

The release added: “Approval has also been granted for fully-vaccinated spectators to attend events at 50 per cent facility capacity for outdoor events, and 25 per cent facility capacity for indoor events subject to guidelines to be issued by the Ministry of Health.”

Just yesterday, national senior men’s football team coach Angus Eve made another appeal for the resumption of local competitions.

“It’s so unfortunate that in our country other people can play sport because youth cricket World Cup is going on with teams from all over the world and our citizens are not having the opportunity to express themselves in a controlled manner. Everywhere else is playing football,” he said.

However, the announcement yesterday was immediately welcomed by the presidents of the Trinidad and Tobago Cricket Board (TTCB) and the Trinidad and Tobago Cycling Federation (TTCF).

“It’s great news for cricket…I think it has come at the appropriate time given that the clubs have had enough time to put things in place,” TTCB president told the Express yesterday.

“As we have indicated earlier in the year, we have everything in place for the resumption of the game in Trinidad. We are happy that the Ministry has made this announcement and we are quite sure that the cricketing fraternity welcomes this fabulous news.”

Asked whether he had any concerns that only vaccinated persons would be able to compete, Bassarath said: “No. The Trinidad and Tobago Cricket Board had made a call very early indicating to the cricketers and clubs that the TTCB competitions will allow only vaccinated cricketers. The call was made since in November. We are at the end of January. People have had enough time to be fully vaccinated.”

Bassarath added the TTCB was also already planning not to have spectators at its competitions this season. “We have indicated to the clubs that no spectators will be allowed,” he said.

“We will have no problems with only cricketers at the venues and no spectators. The board went so far as to put something in place where we will have a compliance officer at every game to ensure that the Covid protocols are implemented.” He added that the TTCB’s first competition this year would be the InterZone U-19 tournament scheduled to begin on February 16.

Like Bassarath, Cycling Federation president Rowena Williams was “very happy” that her sport could resume its activities, “under the specific guidelines.” And she, too, did not anticipate difficulties with the requirement that all athletes had to be fully vaccinated.

“It’s nothing we didn’t expect and we hope people understand the reasons for this,” she said. “To go to international competitions all athletes have to be vaccinated. We are guided by all these international regulations, so it’s no different for us here. We have asked all the clubs to have their members be vaccinated.”

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