Malabar Young Stars were leading Soccer Made Simple 3-1 in the 83rd minute of their Next Level Consultant Ltd (NLCL) Under-19 Community Cup match at the Arima Velodrome when a police officer strolled on to the field and ordered referee Oswald Samuel to instantly blow off the game.
Less than 10 minutes later, around 9:40pm, the lights at the Velodrome went off, with players, technical staff and supporters still making their way through the car park area.
“We saw the police officer just walk out on the field and at first I thought it was a warrant for an arrest or something […] The police stopped the game for whatever personal and other reasons not really related to football. Ten minutes to go in a youth under-19 game. I don’t see any reason why they couldn’t continue the game.”
Like so many other spectators, technical staff and a sprinkling of media personnel, Soccer Made Simple manager Stephen Williams was trying to make sense of it all.
Present at the Velodrome was the NLCL U-19 Community Cup chairman and tournament organiser Brian Jordan, who promptly offered Wired868 an explanation, having reached out to Arima Borough Corporation CEO Cheryl Sirju-Chong via cellphone.
“I was called about five minutes ago by the superintendent of the Arima Borough Corporation Police,” a bewildered Jordan explained, “and advised that they were expecting to be here until 9pm. And I advised her that all of our documentation, including an email as recent as Wednesday, said, ‘no, we’ll be here until 10pm’. Chances are it’s a miscommunication…”
While still on the call with Sirju-Chong, Jordan attempted to pass the phone to the officer who had walked onto the field and ordered the game to be stopped. The officer, however, declined to speak to the CEO, stating that he took his orders from his boss.
Jordan continued, “The police indicated that they weren’t able to reach the CEO [Sirju-Chong] but they did reach the deputy CEO [Walter Thomas] who advised that they should shut the game and the lights down if there wasn’t a cash payment made on the spot for the extra hour that the officers deemed would be additional duty.
“Now, mind you, I booked the venue until 10pm so I didn’t expect to have this conversation…”
“What was the cash amount being requested?” inquired Wired868.
“There was just demand of a cash payment and when I said ‘no, we need to clear this up’, nobody said this was the amount,” said Jordan. “When I contacted the CEO, [she] said ‘No, this should not be happening’…”
Sirju-Chong instructed, via Jordan’s call to her, that the lights be put back on.
They were indeed back on in the Velodrome just before 10pm. But by that time, players had already changed out of their kits, the stands were empty and Jordan, the technical staff of both teams and Samuel and his officiating crew were in something of an emergency meeting in one of the changing rooms.
“Have no way I going back out dey,” exclaimed a player from the Malabar outfit. “I done cold like dog nose!”
The 80-plus minutes of entertaining action, during which time Malabar striker Jorel Grant notched a brace in the top-of-the-table Group A clash, proved to be a mere footnote to the night’s proceedings.
But it was an intriguing game which saw Malabar shooting out of the blocks against the Group A leaders and giving them more than they could handle on the night.
Slender in built but strong on the ball and with feet nearly as quick as Usain Bolt’s, Grant proved to be a handful for the defenders all game. His mazy 37th minute item summed up his night’s work nicely, the Grant puzzle proving a bit too perplexing for the Soccer Made Simple team to figure out last night.
Until the NLCL organising committee makes a final decision, Malabar will remain on six points, with Soccer Made Simple’s nine points topping Group A.
In the earlier Group A game, Cantaro United got a brace from their nippy forward Jaydon Charles to register a facile 4-1 win over cellar-placed Creek S&CC and climb to seven points.
In truth, with better finishing, Charles could have had a beaver trick on the evening. Still, his two items were delightful on the eye as on both occasions he left the Creek defence and goalkeeper Joash Harris in his wake with some nifty skill before applying clinical close-range finishes.
Also, for the second Thursday running, Charles’ Cantaro teammate Nathaniel ‘Bubba’ Perouse strode around the park like he owned the place and added another free-kick goal to his collection, beating Harris from some 30-plus yards with a wicked, dipping right-footed effort just before the 70-minute mark.
“Who he feel he is boy? He feel he is Cristi awa?” joked one Malabar player looking on from the stands as Bubba, hands akimbo, stood at the beginning of his long run-up.
He may not be Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo but the 21-year-old Bubba sure can hit ’em. And yesterday, the former SSFL League and Intercol winner helped Cantaro to knock Creek’s lights out at the Arima Velodrome.
The Arima Borough Police would later literally knock the lights out at the Velodrome as well.
Reached for comment, D’Abadie O’Meara MP and former Arima mayor Lisa Morris-Julian expressed her shock and displeasure, adding that she will be formally writing deputy CEO Thomas to ascertain precisely what caused the abrupt stoppage.
“Malabar Young Stars’ [manager] Clint Busby and his wife are doing yeoman service in the D’Abadie/O’Meara constituency and also in the Arima Borough,” Morris-Julian said. “This is very disappointing. We must support our young people and we must support our sport teams and local teams. I really don’t understand what took place and I’ll be looking forward to a report on the incident.”
Jordan too was visibly upset.
“With our tournament trying to reach out to communities around the country,” he said. “This was Arima’s chance to shine. Two teams playing at home and, unfortunately, it’s a very sad moment in football.”
By the time Jordan’s meeting with Samuel’s officiating team and the coaching personnel ended, the decision had been made to abandon the game. However, going forward, Jordan is uncertain with regards to the next step and he says he and the tournament’s organising committee will have to come to a decision soon.
He did state, though, that the NLCL U-19 Community Cup is running on a very tight schedule and at this juncture he’s not overly optimistic about the game being rescheduled. There will also be no more games at the Arima Velodrome.
Citing his disappointment with the police’s intervention, Williams himself, (not to be mistaken with former acting commissioner of police Stephen Williams), noted that he’s also uncertain about the steps to be taken from here.
“For me personally, I don’t have an opinion on if they should award the points to anybody. I don’t even know what to think about it,” said Williams, who admitted that his team started in a lackadaisical fashion—going behind after just 40 seconds, thanks to a rasping effort from outside the area by Malabar midfielder Jadon Durity.
“It would be very unfair to Malabar if we were to play over the game because the game is incomplete. Also, it is very weird to come out and warm up here for 25 minutes and play eight minutes or ten minutes of a game. It’s kinda up in the air…
“I think it’s very distasteful […] the police could be a bit smarter in their choices and what they deem to be doing the correct thing,” Williams continued. “The police officer could’ve stayed outside and let the linesman call the referee, come to the side and talk and then say, ‘well, the game has to come to end’. Then the referee could have blown off the game.
“But he decided to walk on the field which would look a way. It’s a bit much but that’s how the cookie crumbles today.”
Williams said Soccer Made Simple will concede the result without playing the final seven minutes of the affair, which means Malabar should officially claim the three points before the end of the weekend.
Malabar now lead SMS on goal difference in Group A. But things are only just starting, one suspects, to warm up.
Malabar Young Stars (4-3-3): 1.Isaiah Villaroel (GK); 3.Ethan Friday, 13.Keishawn Carter, 5.Josiah Shade, 4.Nicholas Franklyn; 10.Tayshaun Cummings, 6.Jean-Marc Williams, 8.Jadon Durity (captain); 11.Anthony Wells (14.Ezekiel La Rose 74), 9.Jorel Grant, 7.Nyron Dyer.
Unused substitutes: 2.Matthew Lezama, 15.Gillano Nesbitt, 16.Terell Latapy, 17.Kadeem Maloney.
Coach: Yunus Abdullah
Soccer Made Simple (4-2-3-1): 1.Tyrece Romain (GK); 11.Kosi Charles, 4.Yohance Atherton, 3.Shaheim O’Brian, 2.Levi Smith (19.Jaedon Bobb 72); 6.Javon Thomas, 8.Israel Copeland (captain); 15.Shemar Paul (17.Nicholai Alexander 46), 9.Micah Nelson, 5.Tyree Sammy (14.Elijah Wong 58); 7.Terron Miller.
Unused substitutes: 10.Mickail Jackson, 12.Jaheim Creed-Harry, 16.Moses Mitchell, 20.Jaheim Patrick.
Coach: Lester Young
Referee: Oswald Samuel
Creek Sports and Cultural Club (3-5-2): 1.Joash Harris (GK); 4.Jordon McLean (2.Kareem Sealy 52), 15.Ferron James (5.Kalam Lander 86), 21.Renaldo Tidd; 6.Yohance Ngsaye, 10.Abraham Martin, 8.Kristan Williams (14.Jeremiah Barker 60), 7.Revaldo Patrick, 12.Joshua Patrick; 9.Imani Lewis, 11.Nikolai Marshall (3.Dejay Jackson 57).
Unused substitutes: 16.Jahmiah Davis, 17.Isaac Belmontes, 20.Tyrese McCollin.
Coach: Lincoln Augustus
Cantaro United (4-3-3): 00.Stephon Langaigne (GK); 2.Jeremiah Kennedy, 8.Keishaugn Pridar-Williams, 4.Kareem Pope, 16.Jahdell Alexander; 9.Quincy Eustache, 10.Nathaniel Perouse, 13.Yohan Perouse; 19.Dimitri Rayside, 7.Jaydon Charles, 5.Atiba O’Brien (12.Darnell Crosby 73).
Coach: Stephan David
NLCL Under-19 Community Cup
(Thursday 5 May)
Creek S&CC 1 (Abraham Martin 79), Cantaro United 4 (Jaydon Charles 18, 49, Joash Harris OG 43, Nathaniel Perouse 68) at Arima Velodrome;
Malabar Young Stars 3 (Jadon Durity 1, Jorel Grant 37, 55), Soccer Made Simple 1 (Shaheim O’Brian 48) at Arima Velodrome;
*Match abandoned in 83rd minute after police intervention.
AC Port of Spain 3, Trendsetter Hawks 4 at Mandela Park;
Pt Fortin Youth Academy 1, Gasparillo Youths 1 at Techier Ground, Pt Fortin;
Pitchmen FC 0, Cunupia FC 0;
Moruga FC 0, Cox Football Academy 0 at Grand Chemin Recreation Ground.
Editor’s Note: The tournament organising committee for the NLCL U-19 Community Cup confirmed that Malabar Young Stars and Soccer Made Simple agreed to accept the score at the time of the police intervention as a final result, with Malabar winning 3-1.
The tournament organisers said they also received and accepted a letter of apology and full refund for the night from the Arima Borough Corporation, along with verbal apologies from the Arima Mayor, Chief Executive Officer and Councillor, respectively.