Sunday, October 14, 2012

Private donors rescue Warriors; Sport Ministry abandons team again

The Warriors train in St Kitts & Nevis.
I am not even remotely a football fan. As a girl raised on basketball and American football, I have little patience for a game that can run 90 minutes without a single goal.

That said, I remember frenzy that the Warriors whipped T&T into in 2006 when they invaded Germany. I had only been  here about a year, and I was at work when everything stopped to listen to the game against Bahrain on the radio.

I remember heading to the window to watch Trinis flood the streets in red as they celebrated the 1-nil victory.

I remember the lavish promises made to the players who had made T&T so proud.

I remember what those promises came to.
Here it is, six years later, the promised bonuses still unpaid, and now the team is struggling to find funds to represent the country at the Caribbean Football Union Tournament after the Sport Ministry blanked them via email at the last minute.

This is the same Sport Ministry that's been parading Keyshorn Walcott up and down the country and making various promises about funding and facilities for the nation's athletes. The same ministry that allegedly received a letter from then-Works and Infrastructure Minister Jack Warner (the man responsible for the empty 2006 promises) advising them to starve the T&T Football Federation of funding.

Of course, once the media - and by extension - the public got wind of the refusal to fund the eight-time CFU champs in this year's campaign, the media pulled an about face, declaring that they would fund the team, while impugning the reputation of TTFF Marketing Manager Anthony Harford.

Now, as I said, I know next to nothing about football, and even less about the internal machinations of the TTFF, but I don't have to be a sports fan to notice that (while the email from Sport Ministry Permanent Secretary Ashwin Creed said that their request for funding was denied due to recent poor performances) once the story went public, the Sport Minister jumped up and declared that fishy bookkeeping is at the heart of their reluctance to part with funds.

Still, the Ministry agreed to fund them, so no harm no foul, right?

Except that they've received no funding yet. They're already at the CFU tournament in St.Kitts & Nevis,  they've won two games, and they're doing it all on their own dime (plus a tab from a laundry service).

At least, they were until yesterday, when they received a few small donations from private sponsors to help them buy food and clear up their laundry bill.

This is how our nation's sports ambassadors are treated. I honestly question why anyone (but the chosen few) would be willing to represent this country on the international stage.

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