RAYMOND TIM Kee admits that he conceptualised the Home of Football project and its original base was the former Union Park facility in Marabella, where the Manny Ramjohn Stadium is currently located.
Last Friday, Tim Kee, who served as president of the TTFA (TT Football Association) from 2012-2015, announced his intention to run for office at the TTFA elections, which is expected to take place later this year.
The Home of Football project, which is being constructed next to the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva, is yet to be completed.
But current TTFA president David John-Williams has insisted that the he was the brainchild behind the current project.
Tim Kee, in an interview at his Port of Spain office yesterday, said, “The Home of Football started with me.”
According to the businessman and former Port of Spain mayor, he wanted to utilise the turf ground at the Marvin Lee Stadium (now ML Ball Park) in Macoya for the T&T women’s team, who were preparing for the final round qualifiers for the 2015 FIFA World Cup.
“I wrote (them) for the use of the ground for our women to practice, to get accustomed,” said Tim Kee. “They wrote me back and say I have to pay $500 a session. There is where the Home of Football concept was born. I say this must never happen again.”
He continued, “I went to (then Sports Minister Anil) Roberts, identified a piece of land in Marabella, Union Park, and we got the land approved at the Ministry. When I found (the Ministry) were staying too long, and FIFA were saying they would give us some money from the Goal project, I went to the Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar in her office in St Clair.
“I told her what was happening, she called Roberts and told him to expedite the project,” added Tim Kee. “So, when (John)-Williams is saying that is his project, that is (not true). FIFA would not approve lands if the lands were not ours. That’s why that (project) started, because of the experience we had with the Centre of Excellence.
“The concept was to have accommodation for our national teams to go in camps in preparation for tournaments. It has nothing to do with (a) hotel. We don’t have the capabilities to run a hotel. That’s a different industry, we are in football.”
Tim Kee wonders if the hotel will generate any income due to its location and the lack of access roads to and from the venue.
“Where the building is located, I don’t know what the thinking was. It couldn’t be for commercial purposes. It seems to be a nice building but take out from there and carry it somewhere else. I predict it would be a white elephant because I do not see who is going to patronise it. I don’t know where the money is coming from to pay for that.”
Tim Kee also spoke of his desire to run for the post as TTFA president, even though he has kept a low profile since his defeat to John-Williams in the 2015 elections.
“I love football, I love my country and I have plenty shame,” he said. “Where football is now is a complete embarrassment to the country and to our people, the majority of whom loves football. For the past two years, I (have been working) at the Maximum Security Prison with Clayton Morris with futsal. We train them to become referees, to coach and (develop) every segment of the game that you can think about. It’s completely voluntary.”
He continued, “I really have the desire to see football come back to where it’s capable of. When I went in, we were number eight in Concacaf and after my first year we were number three in Concacaf. (In) my three years, all national teams had gone into finals in Concacaf and CFU tournaments.
“When I left, I thought there would have been a continuation, a trajectory. What you see now, we are not in anything. We are not a respected football country in the Caribbean. That is why Concacaf representative office is in Jamaica, a FIFA office is in Jamaica and Jamaica is hosting Gold Cup (matches).
“We have the best grounds, the most supporters. What it says is FIFA does not respect us because we don’t respect ourselves anymore. We don’t have any programmes.”
SOURCE: T&T Newsday