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Defence Force teams pulled from competition

By Mark Pouchet

Crime affected sport yesterday as the Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force (TTDF) pulled all its sporting teams from participating in local leagues and events.

From the Digicel Pro League, the country’s top football competition, to the Super 10 Basketball League to the UWI T20 cricket tournament, TTDF teams have been affected.

In a media statement yesterday, civil military affairs officer, Major Al Alexander advised that, “with immediate effect, all Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force’s involvement in national, regional and community type/level sporting activities is suspended in favour of the operational exigencies of the service and because of the particular requirements that our personnel are expected to satisfy.”

The statement continued: “This self imposed suspension will last as long as is deemed necessary by the Force.” Alexander later added that the move was taken to “lend support to the police in the fight against crime.”

On Thursday, managing director of the Super 10 Basketball League Keith Clement published the following post on his Facebook page: “The Super 10 Basketball League has received official information from the Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force that their basketball teams (men’s & women’s) will take no further part in the League until further notice. The SBL has made no decision on the Defence Force teams participation to date.

Clement stated that based on that information, “ no team (s) will be allowed to field  players who are members of the Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force until further notice.”

Clement said games involving the TTDF will have to be rescheduled.

At the Sir Frank Worrell Memorial Ground at UWI SPEC, St Augustine yesterday,  Clarke Road coach Dasrath Maharaj explained that his team’s match was called off after the T&T Defence Force published its statement.

 Merry Boys Sports and Central Sports were scheduled to meet in the second game of yesterday’s double header at the same venue from 6:30 p.m.

In the  blink/bmobile National Super League, officials advised that the TTDF game against Guaya United had been postponed until further notice.

In the Digicel Pro League, CEO Dexter Skeene said : “To  this point the League has received nothing formal from either the TT Defence Force or Police so we proceed as normal, however the league understands the participation  of the TTDF and  the police  and their involvement in the community is one of the tools used in the fight against crime, but the League understands the greater goals of the armed services and is supportive of their role in the battle against crime.”

Efforts to ascertain the stand taken by the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service on its continued involvement in sporting activity proved futile as calls to TTPS public relations personnel sergeant Wayne Mystar and ASP Joanne Archie went unanswered. 

Yesterday’s suspension of Defence Force teams from competition follows comments in the media this week by Minister of National Security Gary Griffith concerning a possible State of Emergency. On the Morning Edition programme on Thursday, Griffith said, “we have to look at the concept of the state of emergency...I’m not saying we should or shouldn’t have one, that’s the Prime Minister’s call but it’s ultimately about the safety of the citizens.”

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