It has been four weeks since the Defence Force football team along with all other sport and cultural teams within the local regiment have suspended all “involvement in national, regional and community type/level sporting activities.”
No one has ever explained how the likes of Curtis “Boyo” Gonzales, Kevon Carter and Devorn Jorsling will give better service to Trinidad and Tobago behind rifles as opposed to on the football field.
Gonzales, Carter and Lawrence all played important roles, last year, as the “Soca Warriors” advanced to the CONCACAF Gold Cup for the first time in seven years.
It was a former soldier, Dennis Lawrence, whose headed goal against Bahrain took the “Soca Warriors” to the Germany 2006 World Cup while he had three ex-servicemen, Jason Scotland, Carlos Edwards and Clayton Ince, for company when Trinidad and Tobago showed up at the world’s largest single sport event.
Defence Force also gave the domestic football league its proudest moment when it was a joint winner of the CONCACAF Club Championship in 1978 and then won the competition outright in 1985.
At present, the “Teteron Boys” have a Pro League title to defend and, perhaps more importantly, they kick off the Caribbean qualifying phase for the 2014/15 CONCACAF Champions League next month in Jamaica.
But, because of the increase in crime, the Defence Force team was not even allowed to practice for the last month; let alone play games.
In the absence of clear information regarding the use of these men, who were recruited to the army as footballers, there is a concern that this amounts to mismanagement of the army’s resources as well as a possible disregard for the cultural and sporting impact that Defence Force has on this country.
One would like to think that former army captain and present Minister of National Security Gary Griffith, as an ex-national hockey team manager and top flight player, would be more attuned with the importance of the Defence Force’s sporting programme.
But then experience tells us that we should not expect too much of Griffith.
There is one point that makes this whole Defence Force withdrawal even worse, though.
Police FC has not missed a game.
For the same aforementioned reasons, the Police players probably would not add much to the supposed war on crime by quitting the Pro League. Departed Police Commissioner Dwayne Gibbs insisted the problem was not a lack of numbers in the force; but poor management of the men.
In other words, it is the senior officers who should be feeling the heat and not the young men and women who are dedicating themselves to excellence in the field of sport and culture.
Still, Police FC’s ability to take the football field while Defence Force, the defending champion team, looks on begs the question: Just who does the National Security Ministry think is responsible for dealing with crime?
After years of rum talk and hot air, none of the four National Security Minister appointees over the past 20 months has ever articulated a feasible crime plan to the population. And Griffith has talked more and articulated less than probably anyone else in Kamla Persad-Bissessar’s Cabinet—with the notable exception of Health Minister Fuad Khan who did not know the laws of the land take priority over the Hippocratic Oath.
So allow me to get you started, Minister Griffith.
Step one: Find out whose job it is to enforce the law and keep criminal elements in check.
(Hint: It is not Devorn Jorsling).
And, while the Trinidad and Tobago’s national athletes in several different sporting activities are kept away from the sporting grounds, Griffith continues to enjoy the health benefits and camaraderie of life as an amateur hockey player.
On Wednesday 5 February 2014, Griffith scored five times for Queen’s Park Cricket Club in a 13-0 hammering of Shape at a Trinidad and Tobago Hockey Board (TTHB) mixed veteran’s match. Bet he enjoyed that.
An employer who asks employees to make sacrifices he has no intention of mirroring is the very definition of a horrible boss.
Enjoy your sweat, Griffith. But the Defence Force footballers must represent Trinidad and Tobago in the CONCACAF Champions League qualifiers in a month’s time.
And Gonzales hopes to be testing himself against global football sensation Lionel Messi when the “Soca Warriors” play Argentina in a friendly international this June.
So can they play too?