THE EDITOR: The state of football is a reflection of the decline in our standards generally, across many areas of civic life. It is no wonder there is indecision on the way forward at the top level of TT football administration.
Self-reliance, which was one of the tenets of our people in earlier decades, has been severely eroded, especially among those of us of African descent.
Hundreds of young men who used to play football in the Savannah on Sunday mornings belonged to a league that came out of their community. That league was the initiative of community-minded individuals who gave of their time and energy without seeking recompense.
It was necessary for the leadership of the country – political, in education, and business – to encourage the mindset of self-reliance. Instead, politicians saw the vote-getting benefit of encouraging working-class people to look to government for “ah wuk" while not demanding that they actually do a fair day’s work.
The educational establishment went along with government’s misguided policy of streaming most students academically, so that competent masons, carpenters and plumbers have now become endangered species. Previously, a teenager who so desired would have been apprenticed to an experienced tradesman rather than spending his days bored in a classroom.
Big businesses have never given wholehearted support to the efforts of communities to provide sporting activities for young people.
Older generations know that hundreds of fans used to turn out on weekday evenings for football matches in Port of Spain, San Fernando, and Arima.
These were games that were played among well-structured community-based teams; and therefore the rivalry was keen. Team administrators were being self-reliant in providing a community service, without seeking prestige and inducements.
One must question the competence of our Pro League administrators when the average attendance at their games seems to be less than 100.
Here’s a reminder to them, or a revelation, if they don’t know: each team must have a clear identification with some community; and efforts must be made to promote that relationship.
Professional sports is business. Most of the revenue to teams comes from advertising and merchandising. The success of advertising and merchandising depends on the level of fan support a team has. Advertisers will support a league when hundreds, if not thousands turn out to matches.
Our people need to recapture the spirit of self-reliance.
That is the starting point for the reduction in criminality among so many of our young men, as strong community organisations would mitigate against such behaviour.