All is not lost for Trinidad and Tobago football.
That is the message presented by T&T Football Federation (TTFF) vice-president Rudolph Thomas yesterday, as he addressed the T&T under-23 men's and Under-17 women's footballers during a luncheon at the Queen's Park Oval's Century Ballroom.
Speaking in the absence of TTFF president Lennox Watson, who is currently away on Christmas vacation, Thomas described 2011 as a "tumultuous year" for local football.
"(IT is) a year which has brought us face-to-face with some harsh realities. What has transpired can almost be referred to as the end of an era," Thomas told the crowd.
Speaking on the Mohamed Bin Hammam bribery scandal—which led to FIFA investigations that prompted the resignations of former FIFA vice-president and TTFF special adviser Jack Warner, and ex-TTFF president Oliver Camps—Thomas said local football is still experiencing "aftershocks" from the affair.
He said those departed officials have given "yeoman service" to local football, and that the TTFF is "still coming to terms" with the impact of its losses.
The veteran football administrator also pointed at T&T's disappointing year on the field, which resulted in a "humiliating" first round elimination, but saw hope for the future.
"Besides what some may view as doom and gloom for football, the fact that we are gathered here today to show our deep appreciation to our youngsters signifies that we in the TTFF recognise that all is not lost," Thomas stated. "A bright future awaits us if we are prepared to do the hard work, if we are to achieve our desire to restore football to its (true) potential."
He also advised the young players to work hard and keep their focus as they prepare for final round CONCACAF competitions next year.
The T&T Under-17 women travel to Guatemala in May for an eight-team battle for three Under-17 World Cup places, while the Under-23s face Olympic final round qualifying for London 2012 in the US in March.
Thomas also announced that the first half of the 2012 calendar will be a busy one for national football teams. Both the senior and Olympic T&T men's teams will face Finland in a pair of friendly international matches in February. The TTFF is also negotiating international matches for the senior men early next year.
The T&T Under-20 girls went into camp last night in preparation for their Caribbean Football Union (CFU) playoffs, while the Under-17 and Under-20 men's teams will also be preparing for action soon.