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Shabazz: Give us land, treat us like cricket
"Give football clubs lands and make them self-sustainable in the future" an emotional Jamaal Shabazz believes is the solution to the football's dependency on government for funding.
His plea comes as government, through the Sports Company of T&T distributed promised cheques totalling $4.8 million to seven T&T Pro League football clubs including Club Sando, North East Stars, St Ann's Rangers, Central FC, Point Fortin Civic, San Juan Jabloteh, Morvant Caledonia United and W Connection, for the financial period September 2017 to October 2018.
However, W Connection, which is still non-compliant will receive its monies when the club's auditor returns from abroad and signs off its outstanding documents.
The handing-over, was attended by stand-in SporTT Chairman Hayden Mitchell, while the substantial chairman Douglas Camacho is away on business, the chief executive officer (CEO) Jason Williams, Director of Physical Education and Sports Patrice Charles, Pro League Chairman Richard Fakoory, T&T Football Association president David John-Williams and other club representatives at the National Aquatic Centre (NAC) in Balmain, Couva.
Shabazz, the lead administrator at Morvant Caledonia, responded to concerns raised about a possible solution to government's constant injection of funds to save the pro league, its clubs and by extension, the sport in general, through which hundreds of stakeholders survive, and national teams are resourced.
According to Shabazz,"Give us the grounds in the communities and I guarantee it will stop us from going back to the government for help.
"It seems the easier thing is to give us a cheque so the dependency will continue. However, if we get the community fields we are able to wean our clubs off government funding."
Shabazz believes football's problem is ingrained deep within the psyche of our people, rather than what appears at the very surface, saying the concept of feeding us a fish, rather than to teach us how to fish, has been a major downfall for us as a people.
He pointed to the difference with the sport of cricket, where Preysal and Clarke Road operate grounds that are under the control of Regional Corporations. "The man called football remains landless while the man called Mr cricket can stand on his own."
"His corporation gave him land and a means to make money, while we get a cheque and no land to develop our vision into becoming a Queen"s Park. If we get the grounds for ourselves, in that way we will get off our knees and stop begging the government for help," Shabazz noted.
Fakoory too believes football will not stand on its own if clubs are not given a means to generate its own revenues.
Government's $4.8 million injection into football was the first of three to be given in as many years, aimed at helping clubs and the League to put its house in order financially. The money is expected to help teams pay salaries.
John-Williams said they are grateful for the financial assistance by the government which comes at a time when the sport has been short on investors.
It is expected that each club will get $50,000 each a month for 14 months ending October 2018. The league kicks-off on Friday.
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