World Cup Football: Ban the professionals?

Author: 
Keith Smith
Date Published: 
1973-04-08
Source: 
Tapia
Page: 
12

No says Keith Smith

Warren ArchibaldWarren Archibald

Leroy DeLeonLeroy DeLeon

IT IS difficult to understand why quite a few people cannot see why we must bring home our foreign based players to participate in the trials that will precede the selection of the team for the next round of World Cup.

It is almost as if some people want to prevent these players from gaining selection out of a kind of unconscious desire to revenge themselves on the "star" footballers for leaving the country.

They argue that this choice opportunity of representing the country in this coming World Cup round should only go to those footballers who have remained here to battle it out on the Queen's Park Oval ground.

Which is as dishonest a "patriotic" argument as there ever was. The truth is that those footballers who are now playing in the United States were forced to leave precisely because their country doesn't afford them an opportunity to live off their skills.

And most of the unemployed many who are remaining would jump at the opportunity to play for financial gain in the United States — the only thing is that the offers have yet to come their way.

If we follow this argument it is ridiculous to then argue that the stay-at-home players have a greater right to play in the national team in the tournament in November.

ABILITY

Certainly the footballers who are now in the United States must be played not on their reputations but on their actual ability when tested against the local players who even now are sharpening their skills in Vernon Bain's "Super League".

But we know enough of Warren Archibald, Leroy de Leon, Everard Cummings, Keith Aqui, to name a few, to suspect the quality of any team for whose selection they have not been considered.

Granted it is just possible that we will find that these "stars" have in fact been eclipsed by the new meteors that the past season has brought to light — Sammy Llewellyn, Dudley Husbands, Godfrey Harris, Fitzroy Valentine, again to name a few. But I, for one, am not prepared to lay any bets on it — so put them all to the test.

And it is no use citing that farcical Santos-Trinidad and Tobago match, as one letter-writer did, to prove that our foreign-based footballers are not worth their passage back home.

Conditions that evening were hardly conducive to football as the Brazilians themselves admitted — and even so, in the limited time available, Archibald and De Leon gave good account of themselves.

There will be some cost involved of course, but if the thousands of football fans in the country are persuaded that our interests will be better served by having these footballers back home, then the money will be raised.

What is important here is how we go about raising this money. Ken Galt of the TFA has suggested that the players should be brought home "well before November". Ideally, I feel they should be here for the whole season so that their skills will be tested over a prolonged period of time.

The TFA should have no problem here since if these players are as good as they ought to be the thrust they will give those dreary night games will be enough to bring in the crowds — after all football-hungry Trinidadians have been crowding games that stand out only for their boredom.

More important than that, however, I feel that the clubs to which these players belonged and for whom no doubt they will play on their return ought to chip in by urging their supporters to contribute to fund-raising activities which they as well as the TFA should organise.

SOLIDARITY

Again if we are serious about this World Cup effort there is no reason why clubs should not get together in joint ventures in a show of solidarity — Malvern/Maple fete . . . Colts/Paragon . . . proceeds or some part of them going into the World Cup kitty . . .

Already there is talk about the kind of system that we will play. Perhaps we are premature here since whatever system we adopt will have to be decided by the kind of players eventually available for selection. To start with the system first and then attempt to fit the players into it is one sure way of ensuring that we will be trounced by the other competing nations.