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.