INTERNATIONAL football will be returning to Trinidad and Tobago for the first time since the covid19 pandemic forced a shutdown of team sports, in March 2020, when the TT women’s team host Panama in a pair of friendly international matches at the Ato Boldon Stadium, Couva on October 21 and 25, starting at 4 pm (each day).
According to a media release from the TT Football Association (TTFA) on Monday evening, “The (TTFA) received approval from the Ministry of Health for the staging of the matches which will see international football return to these shores for the first time since November, 2019 and the duration of the pandemic thus far.”
The media release continued, “Both nations will be using the exercise as preparations for the start of the CONCACAF Women’s Qualifiers which have been shifted from November to the FIFA Women’s window of February 2022.”
The last time TT hosted an international match was at the Ato Boldon Stadium, when TT men’s team defeated Anguilla 15-0.
Last Monday, during his Budget presentation, Finance Minister Colm Imbert said that the Government was looking at hosting international events in TT next year, including cricket and powerboat racing.
The TT-Panama matches will take place behind closed doors, and the teams will be in a bio-secure bubble, and housed at the neighbouring Home of Football. The TT women’s team, with caretaker coach Charlie Mitchell at the helm, will enter a live-in camp on Friday.
Robert Hadad, chairman of the FIFA-appointed normalisation committee, said in an interview on Monday, “We’re grateful that the Government allowed us, we’re grateful to the Minister of Health (Terrence Deyalsingh), the Minister of Sport (Shamfa Cudjoe) and the CMO (Dr Roshan Parasram) for helping us.” Hadad also expressed his gratitude to the TT Defence Force and Police Service, who have assisted in the security for the TT women’s team, as well as providing transport for the players.
Hadad is hopeful that, depending on the successful staging of the matches against Panama, football at the club level can be given the green light by the Government to resume.
“Let’s just hope that this comes off very good and everybody respect all the protocols that we will put in place,” he said. “Once everything goes well, we can see football, and sport returning to our country very soon.”
The Panama women’s squad will be the first international team to be housed at the Home of Football, since it was opened in December 2019.
The TTFA media release pointed out that the announcement of the TT-Panama matches was made on Monday – the International Day of the Girl Child.