That 'pro league' talk

Ruthven Baptiste
Date Published: 

WHAT HAS become of the TFA's plan to introduce a national professional league? On June 11 this year, the secretary of the TFA in a statement to the press announced that the problems which held up plans for the NFL was that such a league would lead to the demise of its affiliates.

Undoubtedly, the demand of the times is for a national professional league. It appears from the secretary's remarks that the RFA is either unable or unwilling to meet those demands. In my view it can, if only it can abolish it present conception of affiliation and set national unity as its objective.

Football and national unity may seem unrelated but that's only illusory. Football and cricket are now national institutions and as such the way in which they are organised can further entrench divisions in the society or promote and foster unity. They are not simply sport.

There are two distinct streams in out football, broadly speaking. On the one hand, there is football as organised by the TFA and its affiliates, the major leagues. On the other hand, there are the community leagues or minor leagues.

Unfortunately, relations between the two are unhealthy and unnecessarily so. In October 1969 there was massive demonstration in Port of Spain by the minor leagues after the TFA had moved to discipline some of its players who had played in the Tacarigua Eddie Hart league.


Since that time there has been a steady decline in players' morale and spectator interest. We have seen a short-lived strike by national players in 1972, and this year some players have refused to put country before club.

There has been a thawing out of the cold war as well. This year Phil Douglin, the vice president of the TFA, was a judge in the march past at the opening of the Eddie Hart league.


On the cricket scene a northern association of minor leagues has been formed. All these changes are steps in the right direction, nevertheless they fall short of the possibilities.

Furthermore, the present relationships between the minor and major leagues is completely irrational, another characterisation of our colonial heritage. The TFA should be actively engaged in promoting minor leagues throughout the country.

Is a first class player born big? Or doe she start in his backyard, raising in the road, juvenile league, Sunday morning league and so on?

Then, if he has any genuine ability, he graduates to higher levels of the game. Therefore, the minor leagues are vital for nurturing talent in the first instance and for feeding the first class league in the second instance.

Finally, the minor leagues. In both games the minor leagues are guilty of the same attitudes for which they condemn the major leagues. The minor leagues are replete with petty dictatorships, mini-caudillos.

In a curious way there is unity in the conception of organisation as it obtains in both major and minor leagues. The model for organisation is the colonial governor.

But then it is not the unity the citizenry wish to cherish otherwise, the crises in our sport, as in other areas of our national life, would not have persisted.