CUNUPIA FC coach Michael De Four is satisfied that local football will resume in a few weeks, saying that the Ascension Football League will allow new talent in TT to emerge.
Local players have been inactive over the past two years because of the covid19 pandemic.
A media release, on Tuesday, signed by Ascension League tournament director Keiron Edwards confirmed the league has been approved and will start on March 25 and end on July 31.
“We wish to confirm that the Ascension tournament of TT is prepared and we have received written permission from the Minister of Health (Terrance Deyalsingh), Minister of Sport and Community Development (Shamfa Cudjoe) and the chairman of the normalisation committee (Robert Hadad) to proceed,” the release said.
The news about the Ascension League follows the announcement by the Ministry of Sport and Community Development that a safe-zone return-to-play proposal was approved. It came into effect on January 24.
Only fully-vaccinated people are allowed to participate in local sport including athletes, coaches and officials.
Edwards confirmed that all those who will be involved in the Ascension League are fully vaccinated.
“Most notably, we have already confirmed that all teams participating in the tournament have all players and support staff fully vaccinated. As the country continues to strive towards some sense of normalcy during this difficult period, we believe that the restart of contact sports, particularly football, will boost the morale of our citizens and recharge the passion we once had for this sport.”
De Four was elated to hear the news that a local league will be starting.
“We welcome the opportunity to restart,” De Four said.
De Four is hopeful “some point in time” all players vaccinated or not, will be allowed to play in local football leagues.
De Four said people will see new faces on the Cunupia FC squad. “We will have a lot of new players this year. A lot of new guys who have also been out of touch who probably not familiar with the league.”
The Ascension League will allow new talent in local football to develop, according to De Four.
“The league running is only one of the factors that affect the performance of the national team…I think it offers the opportunity to see additional new players who may have slipped through the cracks.”
Head coach of the national senior men’s football team Angus Eve is one of many clamouring for the resumption of local football. The Ascension tournament will be broadcasted live on SportsMax, a regional television network and streamed on the internet at https://theascensiontournament.com/ in over 20 countries.
The ten teams set to compete in the league are AC Port of Spain, Central FC, Cunupia FC, Central Soccer World, Defence Force FC, Deportivo PF, Malabar FC, Police FC, Real West Fort Utd and Terminix La Horquetta Rangers FC.
The organisers are hoping to reward the winner of the league with a prize of $100,000. The second-place finisher will earn $50,000 and the third-place team will walk away with $25,000.
The La Horquetta Recreation Grounds, Diego Martin Recreation Ground, Arima Velodrome and St James Barracks will be used for matches, along with other enclosed grounds to control who enters and leaves the venues.
Strict covid19 protocols will be followed during the tournament, including only allowing fully-vaccinated fans to attend.