TRINIDAD and Tobago’s 23-member hockey contingent returns home on Friday night.
Through the combined efforts of the TT Hockey Board (TTHB), Ministry of Sport and Community Development and Sport Company of TT, the national Under-21 team and their support staff were able to secure a charter flight from Caribbean Airlines (CAL).
The team, which has been stranded in Chile since Tuesday, will fly en route to Panama on Friday morning. They are expected to arrive at around 5pm and then depart, homeward-bound, two hours later.
This was confirmed by TTHB president Douglas Camacho, who breathed a sigh of relief on Thursday, upon receipt of CAL’s confirmation.
“We have been able to get CAL to put on a charter. They got their PCR’s done again today (Thursday) and they are going to fly across to Panama tomorrow morning and the CAL charter would pick them up in Panama in the evening and bring them home,” he said.
After competing at the Pan Am Hockey Championships in Santiago, Chile, last weekend, the team was ordered to disembark from their Copa Airlines flight to Panama on Tuesday.
This came after TT authorities told airline officials they would not accept the team’s covid19 PCR test reports written in Spanish.
The squad was then accommodated at UGO Hotel until their flights were able to be rescheduled and PCRs re-done.
Initially, the team was prepared to stay at the Chilean hotel until Tuesday but quick work from the hockey board, sport minister Shamfa Cudjoe and SporTT, to secure the CAL prevented the team from racking up an even heftier bill.
“I’m relieved to get them home. It’s unfortunate what occurred but I know in these covid19 times there are multiple regulations and international travel is a nightmare.
“I’m really pleased by the efforts made by the member of the board (TTHB) who worked hard trying to get it to happen; also the Ministry of Sport and SporTT, for cooperating and working with us to make it happen.”
Camacho also singled out CAL, who he said, made an all-around effort to help get the team back to Trinidad.
“I have to say, very importantly, a major thank you to CAL. They had to find an aircraft, get a landing permit and everything else to make it happen in such a short time.
“They really stepped up to the plate to deliver. I really am pleased with a true national effort with all agencies, and the Minister herself with her personal effort, to make sure the children were alright,” he added.