‘School Should Have Stopped It’: Benjamin Urges Principals To Be Vigilant Amidst Debate Over Politician’s Name On Football Uniforms

Coordinator of Schools Football, Rowan “Porridge” Benjamin. Schools football coach, Basil “Tamo” Allen
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By Neto Baptiste

Coordinator of Schools Football Rowan “Porridge” Benjamin has called on principals to be more vigilant regarding the choice of branding and names displayed on uniforms worn by teams representing their schools during the competition organised by the Ministry of Sports.

His call comes on the heels of public outrage after a team representing the Golden Grove Primary School in the primary division of the ministry’s football competition, donned uniforms displaying the name of the area’s parliamentary representative and Minister of Sports, Daryll Matthew.

“If the schools accept them knowing fully well that the name of Daryll Matthew is on them, then I would want to know why then would Tamo would be getting bashed. The school accepted them so it is the school that should have stopped it right away. The coach [for Golden Grove Primary] is Karen Warner but four years ago Tamo was the coach of Golden Grove when he made that presentation and the school should have stopped it then,” Benjamin said. 

Matthew came in for heavy criticism on Monday during the Good Morning Jojo Sports Show with many people condemning the practice. 

Coach within the schools football programme, Basil “Tamo” Allen, subsequently issued a public apology on Tuesday after clarifying that he was solely responsible for placing Matthew’s name on the shirts and that the minister was unaware he had done so.

“I am the one who made the decision officially to make the move, so I apologise to the whole system and whosoever is in charge for the wrong. I never knew it was wrong because other people have been doing that for a long time and even with the football league. It was just the other day I saw Cutie Benjamin on a uniform, too,” he said. 

The coach, who is now stationed at Bendals Primary School, said he often gets assistance from others in similar positions.

“I am doing for the country, I am not doing anything for politician and I am making that clear. I have worked for Chet Greene, Gaston Browne, Harold Lovell and others for the community. If I had the cash I could have [operated] independently and met my needs but, differently, I am friends with all these guys. As I said, I would like to apologise if I’ve done wrong. This is what I don’t want, for the world to be against me and wronging me and I now know this can’t work in Antigua, so I won’t do it again,” Allen said.

In a press release, Matthew clarified that the uniforms in question were bought since 2018 for a camp organised by Tamo FC at the Golden Grove playing field. The release added that the uniforms were subsequently donated to the school by Allen, who had them printed when the presentation was made.

Indications are that the uniforms will be replaced.

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