The new Home of Football in Balmain, Couva, was given the thumbs up from Minister of Sports and Youth Affairs Darryl Smith during an impromptu visit on Wednesday.
Smith who was accompanied by members of his ministry and other officials from the Sport Company of T&T, were taken on a tour of the facility by T&T Football Association president David John-Williams, which saw ongoing construction work being done for the laying of six football surfaces to accommodate the different types of football, such as outdoor football, beach soccer and futsal, as well as an entertainment centre, gyms and a sportel.
The football facility will combine with the nearby National Cycling Centre (NCC) and Aquatic Centre to be the hub for sports in the region as Smith said they are in the process of finalising with the International Cycling Union (UCI) and the International Swimming Federation (FINA) to make the facilities world development facilities.
John-Williams used the opportunity to show the upgrade made at the venue, including improvements to the drainage system and the training fields. There will be a total of six training fields of which one will be an astro turf.
The main field, the Ato Boldon Stadium, is currently under repairs ahead of the start of the Concacaf Under-20 Women’s Championship which kicks off next Thursday (January 18) with T&T’s Soca Princesses facing Haiti in the feature game of a double header at 7.30 pm. The first game will be a mouth-watering clash between Canada and Costa Rica from 5 pm.
The top three teams from the tournament will qualify for the Fifa Under-20 Women’s World Cup in France later this year.
From the upgrade work, football fans will also be exposed to the new digital scoreboard at the start of the qualifiers.
After the tour Smith said he was satisfied with the progress made so far and with discussions held with football association officials and SporTT chairman Dinanath Ramnarine. He pledged his support for the U-20 Championships which will see seven nations join the host in a battle for three qualifying spots from January 18-28.
“Congratulations to TTFA. It is fantastic to see it from paper work to reality. We did a walk through today with Sport Company, Ministry and TTFA where we visited a number of the sites where work has started.
The fields are up and we are looking at finalising where the Sportel and the entertainment centre is going. Work is well on its way and I am happy for the aspect of it,” Smith said.
“But also more importantly I am hoping that all of T&T comes out next Thursday and support our Lady Warriors who will be doing battle in the Concacaf Under-20 Championship. I think we have very good chances and I am hoping we can go on to qualify for a Women’s World Cup for the first time. The field looks immaculate and we are doing some sprucing up of the facility.
“We are hoping that corporate Trinidad and Tobago comes on board as well but at $40 for double headers for that period of time, I think T&T needs that twelfth man and I am hoping we get that support.”
According to Smith, “I am very optimistic. What I am very proud of with TTFA is this home of football is going to be one of the pure homes of football where the three different types of football will be played and not much other facilities in the world have that and this will be there along with the gyms and other facilities. So Trinidad and Tobago is pushing forward with sport and you will hear more pretty soon about how we are going to maximise this for it to be the sporting capital of the region.”