Wednesday 28 February 2024, Balmain, Couva

“All children have the right to participate in football in an environment free from harm and abuse.”

This is the firm belief of Gary St. Rose, Safeguarding Player Care and Wellbeing Manager at the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA).

FIFA Head of Safeguarding and Child Protection Marie-Laurie Lemineur, Caroni Education District School Social Worker Arlene Paul and TTFA Safeguarding, Player Care and Wellbeing Manager Gary St Rose. Photo courtesy TTFA.

St. Rose was speaking during a recent workshop session on safeguarding of children in football, hosted by the TTFA. The series, which was held at the TTFA’s Technical Centre in Couva, is helping to sensitize those who work with children in a football environment, reinforce children’s rights to safety and reduce instances of child abuse associated with the sport.

Football referees were among the stakeholders attending the sessions. All T&T Referees Association (TTRA) members have completed the “Level I” safeguarding course over the last year. Level I participants have already begun to subscribe to the next cycle of the Level II course.

Head of the TTFA Referees Department, Michael Ragoonath, said referees have a key role in safeguarding practices.

“It is very important to continue to build in this area of safeguarding, since we want to cut out verbal abuse, sexual abuse, mental abuse and physical abuse from within, not just football, but in all sports.

“We must start somewhere, and this is a step in the right direction.”

Permanent Secretary (Ag) in the Ministry of Sport and Community Development David Roberts, left, presents a Level II certificate to Shawn Wong. Photo courtesy TTFA.

Ragoonath said creating safe sporting environments for all children requires the collaboration of sporting officials and groups toward this effort. He believes this is what makes safeguarding training “imperative”.

The TTFA also hosted a safeguarding certification ceremony, attended by FIFA Head of Safeguarding and Child Protection, Marie-Laurie Lemineur. Since then, the TTFA has published a listing of its licenced leagues, academies and clubs for 2024. The TTFA has advised parents and guardians that only the licenced academies are approved by the Association to work with children.

Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Sport and Community Development Beverly Reid-Samuel, right, presents a Level II certificate to Shivohn Noriega. Photo courtesy TTFA.

The TTFA has also extended an invitation through the Sports Company of Trinidad and Tobago (SporTT) to the 15 national governing bodies for sport (NGBs) under SporTT’s purview to participate in the workshop series.

To find out more about the TTFA Safeguarding Programme and Policy, or its academy registration process, visit or email [email protected]. The published list of approved academies will be updated once monthly.

The workshops were conducted in January and were 100 per cent subsidised by the TTFA.