Central FC goalkeeper Jan-Michael Williams has denied reports he criticised Minister of Sports Darryl Smith for not acknowledging his club for their achievements over the years.
“My statements obviously were incorrectly interpreted,” Williams pointed out in an immediate response through T&TFA media officer Shaun Fuentes.
The custodian, who is on a 27-man squad selected by national coach Dennis Lawrence to begin training tomorrow for the FIFA World Cup Qualifiers, was quoted as saying that Smith was disrespecting professional football in T&T.
In his comments after last Sunday’s T&T Pro Bowl semifinals, Williams said “When we won our second successive Caribbean Club Championship last year, we received no recognition from Minister Smith. It was the highest profile sporting achievement by any team from T&T in 2016, yet we didn’t even receive a letter of congratulations.”
Williams’ disappointment was also echoed by team managing director Brent Sancho who claimed the minister has refused to acknowledge the pro league clubs by refusing to meet with them individually, yet has met with T&T Super League teams to give his support.
However, despite Sancho’s comments in January, the Sport Company (Sportt) which is the implementation arm of the Ministry of Sports met with the Pro League teams and among the discussions were the monthly subventions of TT$50,000 per month grant to help off-set club expenses which includes salaries.
Williams in his release yesterday also said, “Let me first say that I am not one to play politics with the game that I love, neither do I have interest in either attacking the Ministry of Sport or the Sport Minister. My name has been used a lot in the past by others to get their various points across. Contrary to what was previously reported, my main focus after the game was to get mentally prepared for the final which would be tough regardless of the opposition. My statements obviously were incorrectly interpreted.”
He explained further that, “Moving forward, my main focus is winning the Pro Bowl then preparing for World Cup qualifiers in March. I also hope to do my best so that my name is seen in the media in the future for sporting achievements only.”
Only recently the Central team won its third major title in the top flight domestic football league, after only four years of being involved. They defeated San Juan Jabloteh 1-0 to claim the $1 million cash prize and will be looking for another major title in the pro bowl which carries a winners-take-all cheque of TT$100,000. Sancho noted that Smith has been supportive of super league clubs although they have not yet been formally ratified by the TTFA.
Sancho pointed out that Central FC is the only club from T&T to win the CFU Caribbean Club Championship back to back while also winning their domestic league. “It’s an incredible achievement especially when you recognise that Central has only one foreign player. We won the CFU with a 100 per cent local team.”