Gov’t source says Griffith right about youth sports; Deyalsingh to clear air on CMO statements

EPL Infrafred Sauna

Minister of Health Terrence Deyalsingh is expected to clear the air on Monday after Chief Medical Officer Dr Roshan Parasram and Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith contradicted each other today, with regards to the relaxing of Covid-19 restrictions on youth sport.

Griffith said, a full two weeks ago, that youth sporting competition for pre-teens (under-14) and teenagers was free to resume from 22 June. However, Dr Parasram said differently in a virtual press conference this morning.

Photo: Ministry of Health CMO Dr Roshan Parasram.

“With regards to any activity in which children are participating before September, and as we have said time and time again,” said Dr Parasram, “we have to recall we are in the middle of a pandemic and things can’t be as they were before.

“We are asking, please, let all activities related to children be held [back] until September.”

The CMO doubled down when asked whether he was referring to all under-18 competition.

“It is not what I consider [a child], there is a legal definition,” said Dr Parasram. “I asked for my Ministry of Health legal officer to confirm and they have confirmed to me that 18 and under is considered a child—based on the legislation.”

Griffith fired back that Deyalsingh and Minister of National Security Stuart Young said differently and he took his directions from line ministers rather than the CMO. He also questioned the rationale used by Dr Parasram.

“The logic of the CMO is that it is not a Covid threat if a 16 or 17 yr old trains daily with his football team,” Griffith told Wired868, “but if they take part in a tournament, then the Covid virus would lift its head and kick in. In fact, it is just the opposite.

Photo: Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith (centre) meets the San Juan North Secondary players before kickoff of the National Intercol final at the Ato Boldon Stadium on 4 December 2018.
(Copyright Allan V Crane/CA-Images/Wired868)

“[…] So to state that persons can train but not participate in a tournament, is alluding to Covid being a shrewd, tactical virus that is not a threat for minors if they train—but if they take part in a tournament, it then becomes a serious risk for a minor…”

A government source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, suggested that Griffith was right.

The government, according to the source, tacitly agreed with the commissioner of police to ‘turn a blind eye’ to competitions such as the YPL; and there is nothing in the health regulations to penalise youth sporting activity.

But, in a confusing twist, the Ministry of Health allegedly wanted the public to believe otherwise, so as not to encourage unregulated sporting activities between minors.

The episode, arguably, mirrored the government’s position on jogging, going out after hours and driving for non-essential business during the height of Covid-19 restrictions. All were discouraged by the police but none were actually illegal.

Griffith subsequently confirmed, after speaking to Deyalsingh, that there are no current restrictions for youth competition.

Photo: San Juan North captain Renaldo Boyce (left) is on the lookout for some funny business during SSFL action against Malick at Bourg Mulatresse on 16 October 2019.
(Copyright Allan V Crane/CA-Images/Wired868)

Deyalsingh has a job ahead of him at Monday’s virtual press conference, when he is expected to support Griffith’s interpretation of the health regulations, in relation to minors in sporting competition—while explaining why Dr Parasram, flanked by the ministers of health and national security, said the exact opposite this morning.

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About Lasana Liburd

Lasana Liburd is the managing director and chief editor at and a journalist with over 20 years experience at several Trinidad and Tobago and international publications including Play the Game, World Soccer, UK Guardian and the Trinidad Express.

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One comment

  1. It seems to me that the main issue here is whether to have the competition in light of Covid 19. Griffith thinks it should go on, Dr Parasram thinks it should not.

    Since this article was posted, I took time to reflect on the situation, not wanting to reply in haste. My conclusion is that Dr Parasram is erring on the side of caution, for which I cannot blame him.

    Griffith has a tendency to speak loudly, obnoxiously (especially to people he dislike or feel that “beneath” him) without thinking too deeply. What he seems to have missed in this case is fairly obvious.

    When training, there are no spectators! When the competition starts, we can expect hundreds if not thousands to converge on various venues, and yet, Griffith ignores the signs in front of his eyes (and his ears).

    Daily, the newspapers and other media show pictures and videos of people completely ignoring social distancing, wearing face masks et cetera. Mind you, this is to protect them, and yet they continue as if life should go on before Covid 19. One can only imagine the numbers attending these sporting venues without proper precautions, or following advice.

    Around the world, we are seeing the predicted second wave, and a possible is correct is correct and his advice should be followed is correct third wave already starting. But since “God is a Trini”, there is a false hope that this will protect the country. Griffith seems to be buying into this point of view as well.

    For the protection of the public, Dr Parasram is correct in his advice and should be followed.

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