Thu, Oct


There are always very good reasons to leave things just so.

Even when an organisation is dysfunctional, even when results have been consistently poor over an extended period, there will still be strident defenders of the status quo who maintain that a complete reformation, however well intended, will do more harm than good. To put it simply: the show—even if it is nothing more than a pappyshow—must go on.

In a society like ours, where personal or collective sacrifice for the greater good is essentially an alien concept, almost no-one is prepared to tolerate any sort of short-term inconvenience for the sake of long-term benefit. So we dare not interfere with the operations of the Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation (TTFF) for fear of being suspended by FIFA, which is a pain worse than death especially with the under-23s gearing up for the final round of Olympic qualification in just over a month's time and the under-17 girls preparing for their qualification series later in the year.

Funding those projects externally, and guaranteeing that neither exercise will be jeopardised whatever transpires in the ongoing legal battle between the TTFF and 13 players from the 2006 World Cup finals squad, portrays Anil Roberts as the superhero intent on saving the day whatever the plight of the sport's national administration. But the Minister of Sport and Youth Affairs needs to appreciate that this type of financial bypass surgery is merely a respite from catastrophic cardiac arrest unless the patient is prepared to undertake fundamental lifestyle changes.

We seem to believe that our relative wealth means we can buy our way out of every awkward situation, whether it be the formation of a slew of special purpose companies to do the work that tens of thousands of mollycoddled public sector employees have no intention of doing efficiently, or directly paying the bills for specific sporting assignments when the governing bodies concerned cannot be trusted to spend money properly.

Maybe we need to deviate more and more from the quintessentially Trini way of steupsing, shrugging the shoulders and just moving right along, even if it is blindingly obvious that the path being followed leads inevitably to destruction. In staying the course for the past six years, the "World Cup 13" have confounded many—certainly me—with their determination and tenacity. Such perseverance may be based on nothing more than greed, as Jack Warner maintains, and it must be questioned whether Brent Sancho, Shaka Hislop and company would be so steadfast in their pursuit of the matter if they weren't in line to reap the monetary benefits of eventual success.

Still, they have gone where no local man or woman in my limited experience has gone before to the extent in which they are challenging their sporting administration through the courts, and even if the law is an ass, it is commendable that more than half of the World Cup squad of 23 have endured what is basically an asinine process for so long and not collectively blown the final whistle in frustration many moons ago.

Am I therefore endorsing the legal avenue as automatic when any individual or group has an issue with a national sporting organisation? Definitely not, for it would be extremely hypocritical to advocate a process for which I have no faith, confidence or respect given the self-serving way it functions in our jurisdiction. What I am endorsing though is walking the walk, even if it is a long journey though a gauntlet of indifference, obfuscation, ridicule and open hostility.

In this idyllic land where the poorly patched-up pothole is an enduring symbol of our collective inability to deal comprehensively with fundamental problems, it will take something highly unusual, maybe even traumatic, to bring more and more of us around to the realisation that applying yet another layer of hot mix is really no solution to rapidly deteriorating bedrock.

There is no middle ground in a society shaped by a political culture of perpetual antagonism. So depending on your party affiliation, overt or covert, the former national footballers supervising the haulage of office equipment, trophies and other paraphernalia from the TTFF offices last Wednesday are either wicked and vindictive or courageous and determined.

Like the people in supposedly high places who have apportioned honours onto themselves for decades and are deeply offended when the obvious contradiction is highlighted, we are so fundamentally dishonest and corrupt that we pretend our ingrained biases or vested interests have no bearing on our opinions, never mind that those opinions fall comfortably within the narrow boundaries of our personal views on the world.

This should be no great philosophical debate. It should merely be about fixing Trinidad and Tobago football or, in another sporting context, fixing West Indies cricket. However, these relatively trivial pursuits seem to mean a lot to a lot of people, although the intensity of that feeling can only really be appreciated if, for example, we were to be suspended by FIFA for governmental interference in the affairs of the TTFF, or the schism in Guyanese cricket triggered a fundamental fracturing of the regional entity.

But both those situations will not transpire, for the simple reason that it is apparently not in anyone's interest—certainly not those with any sort of financial stake in either undertaking—for there to be a shutdown or suspension of activity in any form.

Until we are prepared to pay the ultimate price for fundamental reform, the pappyshow will play on.