FOOTBALLERS will be in a lot of pain in this year. The sun-baked grounds around the country have begun to take its toll on the feet of those who play in football boots.
A swelling chorus of complaints is coming from players concerning the torturing effects of boot pegs on their feet. Comfortable, light, flatsole, jogging shoes are progressively gaining in popularity.
Comfort is not the only factor. The burgeoning rate of unemployment and spiralling costs of equipment generally are making the purchase of boots prohibitive.
A pair of Adidas boots which three or four years ago cost $15 is now $25. Higher quality boots which combine featherweight with durability is eminently reasonable in our circumstances.
Why then are jogging shoes and even sneakers not permitted on first class competitions? — FIFA rules? FIFA is a federation of international football associations, soccer's world governing body, to which the Trinidad Football Association is affiliated.
On several issues FIFA's riles are completely irrelevant to and incompatible with our circumstances. Even in Europe where those rules were conceived and designed, they are anacrhonistic. FIFA and Olympic rules towards amateurism have been under heavy bombardment in Europe. Avery Brundage's head has been the first to roll under the pressure.
At home in a post Crown Colony situation where we have lived for centuries the victim of government rather than active participation, where we have come to see officialdom as inviolate and beyond our control, we cannot see that rules are flexible and adaptable to changing times and conditions. When those rules come from outside as in the case of FIFA, our self-imposed sense of helplessness is considerably aggravated.
Crown Colony government has created a "back-to-front" society here. Two examples fix the point. Nine officials were selected for the Munich Olympics before the actual athletic team was picked. According to Olympic rules, if an Olympic team has 27 athletes then it is necessary to have nine officials accompanying it. It didn't matter that only Hasley Crawford and Leslie King were of Olympic standard. We had to find 27 to send so that nine tourists could go.
Secondly, at the time of the strike of our national team for payment for their participation in the CONCACAF series in 1971, a high ranking TFA official told me unashamedly that organisers are more important than players. "If there are no organisers," he continued, "where will they play"?
This is certainly not a situation of which comes first — the hen or the egg. Organisers do provide a valuable service, but they come into the picture after people invented the game.
If you go to the Oval, you don't go to see Phil Douglin presiding over a meeting. What was even more disturbing was that that official genuinely believed in what he was saying. Because I advocated the opposite view he thought that I was a strange fella.
There is more to this boots business. Boots have become a symbol of the class distinction between first class leagues and so called bandit leagues.
The situation has become so ridiculous that some imprudent minor leagues try to evade the stigma of "bandit" by insisting on boots even when their players take the opportunity to escape.
Some players buy the most expensive boots simply for the sake of gambage. With boots, with stick, with woman, is the same thing!