Tue, Jun

Sport Ministry blanks regional U-20 champions.

Deja vu

FOUR DAYS before departure to a World Cup qualifying tournament, the Ministry of Sport has informed the men’s Under-20 national football team that it will not fund the trip to Jamaica for the CONCACAF Championship due to run from January 9-24.

It leaves the Caribbean men’s Under-20 champions in similar position to that faced by the senior women’s team recently—going into World Cup qualifying without any funding.

The first batch of players were due to leave for the 12-team tournament on December 27. Contacted yesterday, Under-20 team manager William Wallace reluctantly revealed that the team might have no choice but to drop out of the tournament, and possibly face Caribbean Football Union (CFU) and FIFA sanctions.

“All that I am willing to say is that I had a meeting with the PS (Permanent Secretary) and he indicated that they don’t have any money to fund the trip,” Wallace said. “I am at a loss where we go from here.”

Coached by Derek King, the junior Soca Warriors qualified for the 12-team final leg of World Cup qualifying by playing unbeaten and winning the Caribbean tournament  with a 3-0 victory over Haiti in the final on September 19 at the Hasely Crawford Stadium.  

St Ann’s Rangers striker Kadeem Corbin was named tournament MVP. The Caribbean champs joined the United States, Canada, Costa Rica, Mexico, Guatemala, Aruba, Haiti, Cuba, host Jamaica, Honduras and El Salvador in the final round of CONCACAF zone qualifying, from which the top four nations qualify for the  2015 FIFA U-20 World Cup in New Zealand. 

“I haven’t given up,” Wallace continued. “I asked that the visa for the boys be done, should something work out. Our original travel date which was the 27th and 28th (December), because we were going up in two batches. If we get through, it will have to be pushed back now.”  

Recently, the team cancelled a proposed overseas pre-tournament camp to Mexico due to similar funding problems. However, Wallace said they had been previously assured of funding for the Jamaica tournament by the Sport Ministry. 

“We were told all they would have been able to help us with was tickets and what we would have had to spend in Jamaica. Now they are saying there is no money to do that,” Wallace declared. 

“Getting around this is very difficult. Right now everything is in limbo. It is not a tournament that you can just cancel. It’s not a friendly match. You can’t just walk from a tournament.” 

Wallace added that the latest development had left them in extreme difficulty.

“The budget went in some time now and we have been at the Ministry visiting. They asked us to submit other documents, which we did,” stated Wallace.  

“Yesterday, I actually wrote a letter to the PS asking for us to have some discussions on the matter since time is upon us, and we needed to finalise whether it was yea or nay.”