Keiron Edwards, Tournament Director of the Ascension Football Tournament has written to Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley seeking permission for the start of the Ascension Football Tournament of T&T.
In a letter dated Tuesday, December 21, Edwards noted that that the league is prepared to commence and as such is seeking the Prime Minister’s permission to proceed.
In early November, the league was denied permission to kick off by Minister of Health, Dr Terrence Deyalsingh who cited the spike in coronavirus cases as one of the key factors.
However, in their new request to the T&T Government and more importantly to the Prime Minister, Edwards pointed out that all the teams that will be competing in the Ascension Football Tournament have players and support staff fully vaccinated.
He stated: As the country continues to strive towards some sense of normalcy during this difficult period, we believe that the restart of contact sports, particularly football, will boost the morale of our citizens and recharge the passion we once had for this sport.
It is also expected to reduce the level of crime within depressed regions of the country.
The Ascension Tournament of Trinidad and Tobago will be broadcast live on SportsMax, a local television network and streamed on the internet in over twenty countries worldwide thereby showcasing our nation's unique football style and culture. The Tournament will adhere to all covid-19 protocols and follow strict covid-19 guidelines before we proceed.
The following are some of the coronavirus procedures that will be enforced during the Ascension Tournament:
1. All players, coaches, referees, their support staff, spectators and any other persons would only be allowed entry on the ground if they have proven that they are fully vaccinated.
2. The Ascension Tournament of Trinidad and Tobago will designate members of staff (COVID-19 support team) to be responsible for responding to COVID-19 related concerns. 3.
3. The COVID-19 support team will attend all games to ensure COVID-19 protocols are adhered to.
4. All teams participating in the tournament must wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds upon entry to the field/ stadium. If soap and water are not readily available, hand sanitizer that contains at least 70% alcohol will be used.
5. Only fully vaccinated spectators will be allowed to enter the premises.
6. COVID-19 signage will be posted at all venues.
7. Every person including coaches, staff, officials, players and possible spectators entering the game venue must wear a mask before entering. All support staff not participating in the game must wear masks at all times while in game venue.
8. Thermal imaging systems or non-contact infrared thermometers, which are noncontact temperature assessment devices, will be used to measure the temperature of coaches, staff, officials, and players present at each game. Any person that displays a temperature above the required level (100.4° F/ 38° C) will not be allowed in the venue.
9. During times when players are not actively participating in field of play, attention will be given to ensure the maintaining of social distancing (at least 6ft) by increasing space between players on the sideline, stands or bench.
10. During half-time, teams will only be allowed in dressing rooms if the weather is unsatisfactory. If the weather is satisfactory, teams will stay on field to conduct half time talks. In both instances, social distancing must be adhered to.
11. Coaches, staff, officials and players must notify the Ascension Tournament of Trinidad and Tobago COVID-19 support team if they (staff) or any member of their family become sick with COVID-19 symptoms, test positive for COVID-19, or have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 symptoms or a confirmed or suspected case.
12. Coaches, staff, officials and players must send a list (at least six hours prior to each game to the tournament director) of all members that will be present from their club including name, address, official form of ID, contact number, emergency contact number and vaccination card to be cross referenced upon entry to each game.
13. If someone tests positive for COVID-19 all areas will be closed off once it was used by that person to be cleaned and sanitized as per the Ministry of Health guidelines (for outdoor areas, this includes surfaces or shared objects in the area, if applicable).
14. Players, coaches, staff and officials must conduct mandatory temperature/ health checks for each of the three days prior to each match day. Players failing to make themselves available to have these tests done will result in them not participating in the games occurring that week.
15. The required PPE will be available at the venue on each match day for the medical staff's use in the event of a suspect covid-19 case. If there is a suspected case, the medical staff will use the PPE to have the person transferred to the nearest health facility.
16. A Thermal imaging system or non-contact infrared thermometer will be given to each team to conduct a daily temperature check with each player.
17. A list of all person's name, address and other contact information would be taken upon entry to each game to have accurate tracing of all persons present in the event of a covid-19 case.
18.All players will be temperature checked prior to leaving their home ground. All players and support staff must not use public transport as their mode of transportation to get to and from the games.
19. Clear seating arrangements will be identified for all support staff with clear consideration of covid-19 requirements.
20. Players and support staff must always sign the temperature record when their temperature is taken.
21. Teams must sign the protocol article and must adhere to all protocols listed to mitigate the risk of contracting covid-19.
22.People conducting temperature checks at venue entry points must be clothed in proper PPE.
23.Any person whose temperature is recorded over 38°C or displays symptoms would be isolated and the relevant authorities would be contacted to have them escorted to seek medical treatment.
24. There would be a designated person to lead media and communication activities. They would be tasked with managing all external communication with national officials, public and the media- Tournament Director.
25. The game will be played within a 90-minute time frame with an hour sanitation period. The duration of the time players are present at venues will be shortened reducing the time of gathering to limit the possibility of exposure to covid-19.
26.A cleaning and sanitization schedule has been added before, during and after all games for all contact/ surface areas.
27. The tournament organizers have acquired masks for every participan,t staff and official to help reduce transmission of covid-19.
28. There will be no international participants that would have entered the country within the last year. All international players must have resided in Trinidad and Tobago for at least one year.
29. All matches will be hosted at secure venues to ensure identification of all persons entering the venue as well as reduce the spread of covid-19 and to easily trace all players, and support staff in the event that a person present at the game displays symptoms of or contracts covid-19.
30. Referees must submit weekly reports and must bring to the attention of the tournament director immediately if a player is suspected of having covid-19.
With regards to security, Edwards pointed out that the league will also obtain assistance from the T&T Police Service, namely the La Horquetta Police Station to ensure all covid-19 guidelines are strictly executed, while the league also has adequate security and remains incident free.
In keeping with the high standards set by its inaugural competition two years ago, the tournament will be governed by the established Rules and Regulations of FIFA, Concacaf and the T&T Football Association while the Disciplinary and Appeals Committees will be used and applied with suitable variations where necessary.