Needless rows taint national sport
Less than two months after the euphoria of the 2012 Olympics, Trinidad and Tobago sport has been reduced to unnecessary controversy, with the country's two major disciplines, football and cricket, in the headlines for all the wrong reasons.
Unreasonable and last-minute demands by certain players almost scuppered T&T's participation in the lucrative T20 Champions League, while the much-maligned Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation seems to have been abandoned by the Ministry of Sport, which had cut off all funding for qualifying for the Caribbean Cup just a week away.
It is unfortunate that these situations have come to pass and those responsible should hang their heads in shame.
In the case of the national cricket team, 11th hour demands for more money by representatives of some players appeared to be nothing less than holding the T&T Cricket Board to ransom just hours before the squad was scheduled to depart for South Africa.
Thankfully, better sense prevailed and the players finally accepted the Cricket Board's offer, but not without leaving a bitter taste in the mouths of many fans.
It is to be hoped that team spirit will not be affected by this unsavoury incident and the Trinidad and Tobago team will once again make its presence felt in the Champions League.
The same cannot be said for our footballers, who up until yesterday looked like they might not even get to play in next week's Caribbean Cup qualifiers, with the TTFF being denied its request for funding for airfares and allowances from the Ministry of Sport.
It seems hard to believe that this is the same Ministry—and Minister—which not too long ago was pledging millions towards the effort to qualify for the 2014 World Cup. But when that grand project went down in flames at the first hurdle last year, the TTFF—which, admittedly, is its own worst enemy—has been deprived of funds.
It is bordering on the ridiculous, though, that unlimited funding for the much-hyped Road to Brazil could dry up overnight so that the Ministry could not even allocate less than $500,000 to the Football Federation for the first round of qualifying, thus risking sanctions by the Caribbean Football Union and FIFA and acute embarrassment for a country that just six years graced the sport's biggest stage.
The Ministry of Sport—which is entrusted with taxpayers' money—cannot take it upon itself to deny the TTFF, more so dedicated players and coaches, in what seems to be a fit of pique over the failed 2014 World Cup qualifying campaign.
And what makes this situation even more untenable and galling is the claim by Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley, in his contribution to the budget debate yesterday, that there is some sort of conspiracy between Minister of Sport Anil Roberts and former FIFA vice-president and TTFF special adviser Jack Warner, the Minister of National Security, to starve the Football Federation of funds.
This simply cannot be allowed to continue, with the Minister of Sport arbitrarily deciding who should and should not be allocated funding when it comes to representing T&T.
Sport is much too important to our nation for it to be operating at the whim and fancy of any elected official.