T&T withdraws from U-21 Pan Am ping-pong qualifiers

NIGEL SI­MON­[email protected]

The T&T Ta­ble Ten­nis As­so­ci­a­tion un­der the lead­er­ship of re­cent­ly elect­ed pres­i­dent, Mer­le Bag­goo, the first fe­male pres­i­dent of the as­so­ci­a­tion, has tak­en a de­ci­sion to with­draw its boys and girls teams from com­pet­ing at the up­com­ing Cen­tral Amer­i­can Teams Qual­i­fi­ca­tion Tour­na­ment to Cali 2021 Pan Amer­i­can Ju­nior Games main­ly due to the coro­n­avirus pan­dem­ic and prob­lems with ob­tain­ing fi­nanc­ing and trav­el­ing doc­u­ments for all in­volved.

The quar­tet of Der­ron Dou­glas, Joshua Maxwell, Chloe Fras­er and Imani Ed­wards-Tay­lor were orig­i­nal­ly se­lect­ed to rep­re­sent T&T at two-day qual­i­fy­ing com­pe­ti­tion which is card­ed for San Jose, Cos­ta Ri­ca from May 10 to 11 and is be­ing host­ed by the Latin Amer­i­can Ta­ble Ten­nis Union af­ter qual­i­fy­ing via lo­cal tri­als held last month.

How­ev­er, in a re­lease to the me­dia by TTT­TA Gen­er­al Sec­re­tary Bob Vas­dev Roop­nar­ine it was stat­ed that the cur­rent lo­cal ta­ble-ten­nis man­age­ment team which was vot­ed in­to of­fice on April 18, had as one of its first chal­lenges, was be­ing faced with fol­low­ing up an en­try made to the In­ter­na­tion­al Ta­ble Ten­nis Fed­er­a­tion Pan Amer­i­can host­ed events.

The let­ter said: Four play­ers were named and en­tered in the sys­tem but no coach was yet ap­point­ed.

The TTT­TA man­age­ment met three times in two weeks and was work­ing as­sid­u­ous­ly to try to make this trip a re­al­i­ty.

Ul­ti­mate­ly, an emer­gency meet­ing was held and the de­ci­sion unan­i­mous­ly tak­en to with­draw the en­try and so, avoid the fines which would have been in­curred af­ter the dead­line had passed.

The TTT­TA let­ter not­ed that de­spite the many chal­lenges faced nu­mer­ous at­tempts were made to have the play­ers par­tic­i­pate at the qual­i­fiers, but in the end it could not hap­pen.

In cit­ing the chal­lenges, the TT­TA Gen­er­al Sec­re­tary stat­ed: The re­quire­ments for the Min­istry of Sport & Com­mu­ni­ty De­vel­op­ment be­fore a fund­ing re­quest could be con­sid­ered was pro­hib­i­tive.

Of par­tic­u­lar con­cern were pro­vid­ing three quo­ta­tions for the en­tire trip and the need to sub­mit an Ac­tiv­i­ty and Fi­nance re­port for im­me­di­ate pre­vi­ous grant.

Al­so prov­ing to be a chal­lenge was the ob­tain­ing of Min­istry of Na­tion­al Se­cu­ri­ty ex­emp­tion as ex­emp­tion could on­ly be ob­tained if flight de­tails were sub­mit­ted

The in­creased con­cern for the safe­ty of our play­ers and coach in the midst of the cur­rent up­surge in Covid-19 cas­es and deaths as well as the health and safe­ty of the play­ers were para­mount in all dis­cus­sions.

Roop­nar­ine’s let­ter ex­plained that there was al­so prob­lems faced in get­ting a coach to trav­el with the team.

He said, “Most of the ex­pe­ri­enced Lev­el 3 Coach­es ap­proached were not avail­able. One who in­di­cat­ed will­ing­ness need­ed to have his pass­port re­newed and had no US Visa (USA is a tran­sit des­ti­na­tion)

He added, ” An­oth­er who in­di­cat­ed will­ing­ness re­quest­ed many de­tails which could not have been for­ward­ed giv­en the short time frame (dead­line was April 28th)

In ad­di­tion, Cos­ta Ri­can au­thor­i­ties al­so in­formed of new manda­to­ry re­quire­ments just two days ago, name­ly ac­quir­ing trav­el in­sur­ance for each mem­ber of the squad as well as a neg­a­tive PCR test at least 24 hours but no lat­er than 72 hours be­fore trav­el.

Ac­cord­ing to the TTT­TA let­ter, by pulling the plug of T&T’s in­volve­ment at the tour­na­ment at this stage, the lo­cal fed­er­a­tion avoid­ed hav­ing to pay fines of oth­er sanc­tions.