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Griffith: CMO’s discouragement of youth sport is illogical and can divert youth to ‘criminal avenues’

“[…] Preventing or trying to persuade young people not to play sport after being boxed in their homes for months, is an avenue that can frustrate many young persons. And hence their energies can very well be diverted in non-productive, if not criminal avenues.

“[…] Might I also add that such healthy, fit players are less prone to being a patient of a flu, than someone who plays little sport, sits behind a desk daily and maybe just tells people not to play sport…”

In the following letter to the editor, Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith responds to advice from Chief Medical Officer Dr Roshan Parasram that children activities should be put ‘on hold’ until September:

Photo: St Anthony’s College forward Kai Phillips (left) controls the ball during SSFL action against Trinity East at Westmoorings on 25 September 2019.
(Copyright Kerlon Orr/CA-Images/Wired868)

I continue to hear comments by certain appointed individuals as it relates to young people playing sports, it being a matter of concern that may increase the risk of some acquiring Covid-19.

These comments continue to do nothing other than to confuse the life out of my police officers, as they are the individuals who have to enforce the law, and likewise parents—as they are left to wonder if their children playing sport is against the law.

As commissioner of police, to clarify this issue, the answer is ‘no’. There is no law preventing any young person from participating in a sport. All that is required is that extra-curricular activity and sport, must not have more than the stipulation of numbers established in the Public Health Ordinance Regulations.

The CMO does not draft, approve, or enforce laws. I have received absolutely no policy from any government official to stop any young person from taking part in sport.

In fact, as the CoP, preventing or trying to persuade young people not to play sport after being boxed in their homes for months, is an avenue that can frustrate many young persons. And hence their energies can very well be diverted in non-productive, if not criminal avenues.

Photo: Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith (left) talks to Soca Warriors head coach Terry Fenwick after training at the Police Barracks, St James on 3 July 2020.
(Copyright Allan V Crane/CA-Images/Wired868)

Hence these continuous comments trying to prevent young people from playing sport, are indeed a liability from a TTPS perceptive, and does not help us in our role and function.

These strange comments yet again, are said without taking any consideration into the role of the TTPS, because what is the TTPS supposed to do? Go to every sporting ground, every football game, and start checking ID cards to see dates of birth?

As someone heavily involved in sport, this comment to try to scare parents and young people from playing sport, makes absolutely no sense and serves little purpose, as it causes more harm than good.

When certain persons never kicked a lime in contact sport, they may not understand the bigger picture.

Their logic is that persons may train and practice in a sport, but not play in a tournament, meaning that Covid-19 is a selective pandemic, that would not affect a young person who may be huddled with dozens of people in a small area; but if it is a tournament, then it becomes a concern as Covid-19 would strike for tournaments but not ‘a sweat’.

Likewise, based on their logic, if a 16 or 17 year old who is a very fit, healthy, high intensity athlete or national player in a contact sport, [Covid-19] becomes a concern, but not if the athlete is 18 years or over.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago midfielder Molik Khan (left) tries to hold off a challenge by Panama midfielder Reymundo Arauz during TTFA U-15 Invitational action at the Ato Boldon Stadium, Couva on 17 July 2019.
(Copyright Allan V Crane/CA-images/Wired868)

I challenge them to show what data they can produce to show this. The CMO seems to have a concern about a 16 or 17 year-old playing sport, but he does not have a concern when a set of children are packed into a cinema watching a movie.

Dozens of elderly persons, 80 years of age and above, playing bingo in an enclosed room, may be more susceptible to getting the virus than the same number of young, fit, healthy kids playing football—so the CMO may need to monitor such real concerns and not that of young persons trying to stay fit and healthy.

This can now also confuse national teams and men’s and women’s club teams. The logic of the CMO and whoever else wants to support him, is that if anyone is under 18 years but on a national senior team, or a men’s or women’s club team, that they can be at risk to getting the virus.

This makes very little sense, as again, there is nothing to show that a 16 or 17 year-old in a national or club team is going to be more prone to being a patient to Covid-19 than others who are 18 or 19 years on the same field.

Might I also add that such healthy, fit players are less prone to being a patient of a flu, than someone who plays little sport, sits behind a desk daily and maybe just tells people not to play sport.

Photo: Ministry of Health chief medical officer Dr Roshan Parasram prepares to face the media at a virtual press conference on 7 May 2020.
(Copyright Ghansham Mohammed/GhanShyam Photography/Wired868)

There is also the Secondary Schools Football League (SSFL) expected to commence in early September. But by this unfortunate view of the CMO, he is basically telling secondary school coaches that in their first eleven squad, only those who are 18 years and over should train—but if under 18 years, you should not.

To those who do not understand the importance of sport, especially as it pertains to the importance of exercising and good health, young people especially, need to exercise.

Failure to do this, apart from causing frustration, can make them unhealthy, so such comments actually can make more young people unhealthy and susceptible to sickness.

There are however several measures that can be used to safeguard the concerns of the CMO. And it is not by telling young people not to play sport; but simple protocols prior to, and after training and tournament matches—such as no huddling before and after games, no sharing of snacks etc, persuade non-attendance of supporters, which are basic policies done in other countries.

Editor’s Note: CMO Dr Roshan Parasram advised that all children activities—not just sporting ones—should be put on hold until September, and acknowledged that no regulation prohibits team sport.

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2 comments

  1. Earl Best

    Wired868 is to Gary Griffith what Twitter is to Donald Trump.

  2. What ah load ah gobar…