Tue, Jul

TD Corneal to have input in Ascension decision.

Newly installed technical director of the T&T Football Association (TTFA), Anton Corneal, will have a part to play in the granting of permission by the Normalisation Committee, with regards to the start of the Ascension football tournament next month.

The Ascension Invitational was first held in 2019, as a pre-season event to the T&T Pro League season with record-domestic league champion Defence Force capturing the Division One crown and $125,000 top prize while San Fernando Giants won Division Two and $100,000.

However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the competition was not held in 2020 or last year, but tournament organisers are very hopeful of staging the second edition from next month, following the decision by the government to allow the return to sports, but under strict health guidelines and protocols as outlined by the Ministry of Health. 

On Wednesday, the 58-year-old Corneal was appointed to the position of TTFA technical director for the third time in his career.

His appointment came on the eve of Thursday’s meeting between key stakeholders in local football inclusive of the Ministry of Sports and Community Development, Sports Company of T&T (SporTT) and representatives of the Ascension Football League with regards to the resumption of local sporting competitions.

Among those at yesterday's meeting were Minister of Sports and Community Development Shamfa Cudjoe, TTFA normalisation committee chairman Robert Hadad, TTFA general secretary Amiel Mohammed, Ephraim Serrette, Special Advisor Minister of Sports and Community Development, Chief Executive Officer SPoRTT, Jason Williams and Ascension League tournament director, Keiron Edwards.

Before the meeting, Edwards had related that a key sticking point in the league coming off was that they were directed by the Ministry of Sports to get a letter of endorsement from the TTFA which is under the leadership of the Hadad-led normalisation committee.

Edwards said they then had a meeting with the TTFA at which they were told they had two options by which the league would go ahead, which were for the football body to collaborate or control or run any league which they are giving a sanction to, or which they are endorsing.

Edwards said he believed those suggestions to have the tournament played under the umbrella of any TTFA-sanction tournament such as the T&T Pro League, the T&T Super League or the six Regional Associations such as the Eastern Football Association, Central FA, Southern FA, Northern FA, the Tobago FA and the Eastern Counties Football Union (ECFU) was a mandate to the TTFA from Concacaf and FIFA, the sport's world governing body.

He noted that they already sent out correspondence to all the regional associations, but is yet to reach out to the T&T Super League which is being headed by new president Lee Davis. Ascension, while discussions have also been held with the T&T Pro League through its chairman, Brent Sancho, more dialogue is set to take place with the directors of the Pro League.

Edwards upbeat after meeting

But commenting Thursday, a more upbeat Edwards said the meeting went fairly okay as they had some discussions about hopefully having the Ascension League started and how it will look and how they can move forward.

He said, "We have some positive news as there was a commitment by the Ascension Tournament and as well as the TTFA to smoothen out the relationship and the framework behind having the tournament play and getting the approval from TTFA or the blessings of TTFA in terms of having the tournament play and in the next coming days we would iron out how that would look and basically come up with a framework in which I believe would be the framework moving forward for third parties wishing to have a football league and be given the endorsement by the TTFA.

Asked if any drastic changes are set to be made with regards to the running of the competition, Edwards said, “I  don't believe it would be anything in terms of changing the name, but more the involvement of FIFA and Concacaf in the restructuring of the TTFA which would have instructed the normalisation committee, in terms of, how to deal with third-party involvement.

“And coming out of those discussions on the normalisation committee side, they would have engaged us and said that anyone that they are giving an endorsement or sanction to, they would want to have some sort of collaboration or some clear defined oversight of the league.

"So I think that's where we are right now, in terms of, working out what a collaboration would look like."

Expressing a bit of frustration with the slow progress, Edwards said, “There is only so much things you can do in football, in terms of, running a league so it's straightforward, we would sit down and iron out those fine details and we will get to the real important part which is getting our senior players back on the field in the shortest possible time to assist coach Angus Eve with regards to Nations League qualifying and then for the next World Cup campaign," stated Edwards.

TTNA gen sec agrees meeting went well

Reached for comment yesterday, Mohammed said the meeting went well with all the stakeholders involved.

Questioned about the endorsement letter needed by the Ascension Tournament, Mohammed replied, “We continue to discuss with the Ascension League and others with regards to the new health regulations and protocols that have been put in place for the return to sport as announced by the minister recently and we hope to have some sort of solution soon.

“We have been going through the Ascension proposal along with the Tiger Tank Under-20 Tournament and the Next Level Consulting Limited U-19 Community Invitational among the others that we have received since the announcement of the resumption of sport last month.

“So it’s slow and steady progress as we now have to discuss these proposals with our new technical director, Anton Corneal before we can make a final decision on them," said Mohammed.

The Ascension League is set to kick off in mid-March and will be aired by SportsMax and another local television station.

Edwards also welcomes any involvement by Corneal in the decision-making process to have the league up and running as soon as possible.

He said, "TD Corneal was recently installed and my dealings, he would have been a coach of mines when I would have been part of our national youth set-up, and I think he's one of the best minds we have within football in the country right now, and at this time, it's really a boost to the TTFA, in terms of, having him (Anton Corneal) on board.

“So if they see it fit to have a footballing mind like Anton (Corneal) to give some assistance to the process, I think it would only augur well, in terms of, the final composition of that collaboration, in terms of what that would look like.

“But I'm not seeing it being an issue and if Anton (Corneal) is there I welcome his input in terms of how that collaboration would look."

In expanding on what final details need to be ironed out between the TTFA and Ascension League Edwards stated, "It's basically the parameters of the collaboration, in terms of, what would be in control of simple things like referees, disciplinary committee matters if they arise and venues to see about and it's just to figure out who would do what and basically, once we figure out who would do what and who will be responsible for what we will move ahead."