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Cudjoe to speak at Winchester’s funeral despite…

THE Ministry of Sport and Youth Affairs is unable to lend any form of assistance to the grieving family of deceased national footballer, Shahdon Winchester.

So says mother of the former T&T striker Svetlana Winchester, who expressed disappointment and shock following two conversations with the ministry’s special advisor, Andre Ferguson. According to the Winchester matriarch, after her son’s passing on December 19, she received a call from Minister of Sport Shamfa Cudjoe, expressing her condolences.

Following their conversation, Winchester presented a letter to the sport minister and her ministry requesting use of the South Academy of Performing Arts (SAPA) for Shahdon’s funeral. Winchester was then contacted by Ferguson, on December 23, confirming that she was unsuccessful in her attempt to secure the venue.

It was during this chat, the grieving mother asked the ministry’s special advisor if there was anything the ministry would be contributing to aid with funeral arrangements. According to Svetlana, Ferguson declined. She then asked if it was possible to have a brief discussion with Cudjoe, to which Ferguson also denied.

Nevertheless, Svetlana persisted and again contacted Ferguson, on Monday,to see if there was a change of heart. However, she was again told there would be no assistance forthcoming, even though Cudjoe is scheduled to deliver an address at Shahdon’s funeral,on Thursday, at Naparima Bowl, San Fernando.

“It’s costing a lot (of money) and based on the person that he was, we would have liked to give him a good send off. I’m a bit upset but I will do what I can for my child. To hear that the Ministry of Sport cannot assist in any way where the funeral is concerned, is a bit disappointing. We didn’t’ even get a box of Crix,” she said following a walkabout at Naparima Bowl on Monday.

Winchester admitted though, she does not want to make a big issue out of the situation. However, she questioned why the ministry would reject her requests after her son had served T&T at almost every level of national football including being part of the Under-15, Under-17, Under-23 and the senior team.

She revealed though, financial aid was received from the TT Football Association while, family members were also “chipping up” to ensure Shahdon received a worthy send-off. His former club, W Connection and her employers at Eastern Credit Union have been significantly assisting with funeral arrangements. Even the Police band, according to her, has offered its services to help with music on Thursday.

“We are tight-knit family and is a love still. I’m still in shock with the ministry’s response. Even the people I talk to, even they can’t believe it. I have friends who are assisting and we will get it done somehow. The funeral is costing a lot but everyone knows what Shahdon did for his country,” she added.

Svetlana admitted, however, her grief has gotten worse as the days go by. Shahdon was the eldest of three siblings and also had a daughter, who according to Svetlana, is having some trouble sleeping without her dad at her side.

“The family is trying their best to keep me busy. It’s really hard. I’m in tears every ten minutes. After the final wake on New Year’s night, I get ready to send my child home the next day,” she concluded.