“Our appeal to Minister Stuart Young is to please, please assist the footballers. Don’t forget them.”
That is the request from the president of Paradise FC Adrian Donovan, who is asking the TT Government to help the quartet of TT footballers stranded in Barbados return home.
Shackiel Henry, Garnet Diaz, Dwight Pope and Shirlo Johnson were all playing for Paradise FC in the Barbados Football Association’s 2020 Premier League competition before covid19 stopped the league in March. The players arrived in Barbados between January 23 and February 15 to represent the club.
A number of TT footballers have been trying to return home since March, some more fortunate than others. The trio of Darrion Williams, Haile Beckles and Kazim Donald returned home from Suriname along with 69 other TT nationals on May 1.
Jomal Williams, Jamal Jack and Jomoul Francois are currently stuck in El Salvador.
President of the Caribbean Football Union Randolph Harris is also trying to help the TT players return. Harris, in a letter dated April 17 to Young, said, “At this time their current upkeep is threatened as their finances run out. I am therefore inquiring as to if there can be any consideration given by your kind office to arrange for them to travel to their homes in Trinidad at the earliest possible and suitable time.” Harris sent a similar letter on the same day to the Barbados Minister of Creative Economy, Culture and Sports John King.
In an interview with Newsday, Donavon said, “It has been a very frustrating experience for four young men.”
The Paradise FC president said they have been trying to help the TT players get home. “The situation is that we have been trying desperately with all angles, talking to all authorities in TT to try and get these young fellas back home with their respective families and it has proven a very difficult and frustrating experience.”
At a covid19 media conference on June 6, Young said efforts are being made to bring all TT nationals home. “We are very sympathetic and we have a lot of empathy for all our nationals who are outside of TT, believe me. We are getting thousands of requests, and we as a Government understand the difficulty that each family is facing as they try to get their family member who is outside back in.” Newsday called Young on Saturday but was unsuccessful.
Donovan said Paradise FC tried to get the players on the flight along with the other 33 TT nationals who returned home from Barbados on April 21, but their attempts proved futile. “There was space on the flight and our sponsors were prepared to pay for the airfare, so that was not an issue.”
The 33 nationals left TT to go on a cruise in Dubai but were stranded in Barbados when the TT borders were closed on March 23. Over 50 TT students in Barbados are scheduled to return home on Sunday.
Donovan said the four players are staying together in a house just outside of Bridgetown. Donovan said on weekends the captain of Paradise FC tries to help the TT players with meals. “The four young men are good ambassadors of TT, they are treated like family here among the Paradise team.”
Donovan said the players are getting support from their families, but those funds have been used.