Dear Editor: The Republic Cup NYFL can and should do better than this

“[…] The fields that are being used offer little or no amenities for players, especially females, and supporters—not even water. Shame.

“[…] We have players registered with one club appearing for another club, and indeed, I know of at least one professional player who has appeared in the East U20 division…”

The following Letters to the Editor on the 2023 Republic Cup National Youth Football League (NYFL) were submitted to Wired868 by FC Santa Rosa owner Keith Look Loy and an anonymous North Zone coach:

Trendsetter Hawks ‘A’ player Joshua Jackson (centre) brushes aside a QPCC opponent during RBYL U-11 action at the Queen’s Park Savannah on 25 May 2019.
(Copyright Allan V Crane/ CA-Images/ Wired868)

(Keith Look Loy letter)

I always attempt to stay out of other people’s business, and over the past three years have steadfastly done so where TTFA and Trini football business are concerned.

Consistent with that, I have guided my club, FC Santa Rosa, to the strategic decision to abandon men’s football (and, therefore, football politics) and to return to our founding mission, which is to provide football and life guidance for the youth of Arima.

It is the club’s participation in the 2023 Republic Cup that forces me to express a public opinion on the chaos that reigns in this tournament, the least of which is the apparent inability to even get the competition started on a national level.

FC Santa Rosa goalkeeper Joshua Charlerie (right) claws away a freekick from Crowne Trace’s Israel Spooner (not in photo) during RBYL U-13 action in Macoya on 11 May 2019.
(Copyright Allan V Crane/ CA-Images/ Wired868)

We note, of course, the aborted national kickoff on 4 March due to the organiser’s arbitrary scheduling of matches on fields that had not been secured, and the postponement of matches in both the North and South zone on the rescheduled kick off date (11 March), again due to poor field arrangements.

This is administrative bungling of the highest order. Yet the weekly postponements are merely the proverbial “tip of the iceberg” because the actual start to the tournament in the East Zone, where football was played on 11 March, has amply demonstrated the chaos that prevails—despite the glitzy launch of the tournament by Republic Bank and TTFA.

Let me itemise the main problems, as I see them:

Player registration: There are no checks on player registration, so some players are registering for multiple clubs in the same age and/or multiple age groups. Evidently, no one in the tournament administration is keeping an eye on who registers for which outfit.

Jaric Titans attacker Kyle James (centre) occupies the Trendsetter Hawks defence during RBYL U-13 semifinal action at the Larry Gomes Stadium on 29 June 2019.
(Copyright Allan V Crane/ CA-images/ All Sport)

Infrastructure: Matches are being scheduled on fields that are ill-prepared for any level of serious football. Yes, I understand the problem with fields in the country as a whole, but clearly no effort was made prior to tournament kick off to secure and prepare the fields that are available. Moreover, the fields that are being used offer little or no amenities for players, especially females, and supporters—not even water. Shame.

Match management: There is no official presence of the tournament organising committee at matches. In particular, there are no match commissioners to ensure player identity checks, recording of match data, and field organization and security. And literally any thing goes.

So we have players registered with one club appearing for another club, and indeed, I know of at least one professional player who has appeared in the East U20 division. Because match data is a victim of circumstances, it is entirely possible, for example, that any player who received a red card in the first match day could turn out on Match Day 2.

St Madeleine Strikers captain and playmaker Jabarie Forbes (centre) tries to create room for himself during RBYL action against Mayo Youths in Skinner Park, San Fernando.
(Copyright Allan V Crane/ CA-Images/ All Sport)

Fixtures: The problem with securing fields at the Nth hour means the organisers cannot issue reliable fixtures, so the match schedule is being painfully eked out one match day at a time.

While I am irretrievably opposed to Fifa’s Normalisation Committee, I get no joy from the chaos that ensues as a result of poor tournament arrangement by TTFA and Gateway Athletics. Football does not benefit from this, nor do the young people who only wish to play the game. But I can only imagine how Tony Harford must be turning in his grave.

All Sport Promotions would have personnel assigned to each zone, reliable match schedule, and an official tent at every venue occupied by said officials ensuring identity checks and proper collection of match data.

All Sport Promotion director Anthony Harford (right) and administrators Camal Basdeo (left) and Gerald Elliot enjoy RBNYL action at the Larry Gomes Stadium on 18 March 2018.
(Copyright Sean Morrison/Wired868)

Look, TTFA is TTFA but Republic Bank MUST be seeing all of this chaos and SHOULD be wondering why it attached its name to people who are leading it through the gateway to a place where one’s good image surely goes to die.

Meantime, lemme just focus on my youths yes…

(Letter from Concerned Football Lover)

In all my years I have never witnessed the Republic Bank Cup as it is now. It has been horrendous from all corners.

Harvard SC attacker Josh Miguel (centre) takes on four QPCC ‘2’ players during RBNYL North Zone U-11 action at the Queen’s Park Savannah in Port of Spain on 27 May 2017.
(Courtesy Sean Morrison/Wired868)

North Zone over the years has fell short many times. So the expectation that things would run smooth was meet with some degree of scepticism.

You would think that the organizers would get it right this time around but that wasn’t the case at the Queen’s Park Savannah on Saturday 11th of March 2023. Wrong size fields, no water stations, wrong size goals, no tents and no medical staff.

One would think after the mandatory Safeguarding course recommended by Fifa, which was done by all coaches involved, children’s wellbeing would be second to none.

A female QPCC player (left) tries to elude a Jaric Titans opponent during RBNYL U-14 quarterfinal action at the Queen’s Park Savannah, POS on 23 July 2018.
(Copyright Sean Morrison/ Wired868)

This is no way to run a tournament. It seems as though it was a cost cutting exercise that wouldn’t benefit the children.

Republic and TTFA can do better.

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