Sun, Oct

The President, His Progress and The Politics of T&T Football.

Tim Kee Finally Onboard SWO Fan Ship.

TTFA president Raymond Tim Kee is aiming to take Trinidad & Tobago Football Atop (TTFA) once more in the football world, but first he must overcome the obstacles that stand in his way.

It has been 3 years since he won his uncontested seat to serve as the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) president and after a few false starts, Tim Kee has broken the ice and finally decided to do an exclusive interview with the Soca Warriors Online (SWO). It has proved well worth the wait, as the current TTFA president got downright intimate in his chat with SWO.

But first, let's do a bit of review as to his presidency and how he got here. In 2008 Tim Kee joined the old TTFF when he was asked to put his financial expertise to work as TTFF Treasurer. He also became a TTFF Vice-President and member of the Executive Committee at the same time, serving in both capacities until being forced out in 2010, reportedly over differences with the TTFF leadership. In November 2012 Tim Kee replaced interim president Lennox Watson and became the 3rd TTFA president in just over a year. He ran unopposed for the seat after Colin Murray, a Carib Brewery events and marketing manager pulled out of the race for personal reasons, with Watson also ruling himself out.

Coincidentally, a year into the job Tim Kee was again elected unopposed, this time as the new Mayor of Port of Spain and PNM treasurer simultaneously. Tim Kee is also a Guardian Life Insurance executive and wears many hats.

Hints Of Another Term.

The TTFA head-man recently announced that he wanted another term in office so that he could pave a smooth transitionary path for the TTFA as the organization continues on strategic reform and Tim Kee feels that more time will be needed in order for it to do so.

In an interview with the T&T Guardian Tim Kee stated that "in order for football in T&T to become a major revenue earner and as a consequence ensure the TTFA achieved self-sufficiency,” he said, “business professionals needed to be enlisted by the football body."

"Our focus is on good governance with emphasis on transparency and accountability. And as time progresses, we are going to see emerging some new faces, some different faces, many of whom may not have ever played football; probably never bounced a ball.”

In a November 2012 interview with SWO, former Men’s National Team player and current Minister of Sports, Brent Sancho stated: "I know Raymond on a personal level for a while now. He seems to be a level headed individual in the numerous conversations we have had."

"There will be obvious concerns regarding his previous role in the current regime, and whether or not he could have voiced or stand up against the atrocities of the TTFF."

"My concerns however is not so much about Raymond but what possibly can be done in an organization which seems to have most of the current regime still intact and bent on continuing the horrendous trend of unaccountability, lack of transparency, lack of vision, poor infrastructure, mismanagement of funds and the inhumane treatment of it most prized assets, the players”, ended Sancho."

Turning The Tide.

Lately, the "facilitator," as Tim Kee prefers to be called, has been in a battle with the new Minister of Sports, for money that was approved by the T&T government to the tune of $9.9 million approved via a Cabinet note last November, during the term of previous Sport Minister Rupert Griffith.

Sancho has insisted that the Sport Ministry would decline financial assistance until the TTFA provides audits for funds disbursed from the Ministry for the 2012-2013 period. Tim Kee reluctantly agreed to the demand, and during the recent impasse with Sancho, took along the the FA’s auditor from KPMG’s to the Sport Ministry, to explain any delays and prove that the football body was not trying to hide anything.

Last month it was reported on that: “Additionally, the Ministry has undertaken to review the TTFA’s request for funding to support the 2015 Gold Cup campaign which begins in July 2015. “The Ministry also resolved to support the FIFA Goal project which will see the establishment of a National Training Centre in Trinidad and Tobago.”

A month later to two were at it again, Sancho retorted that 90 percent of the $9 million was spent on paying TTFA arrears to its coaches and players dating back to 2012. He later backtracked on the claim, to state that 70 percent had already been spent. Tim Kee denies this and warned Sancho that he risked going down as “the worst Sport Minister ever."

Needless to say, it has been an interesting career for Tim Kee thus far and the best way one might describe it would be itinerant, not unlike the road to Maracas Beach with curves, bumps, hills and valleys along the way.

While SWO takes no side and does not endorse anyone in particular, we would remiss if we didn’t point out some of the irrefutable positives he has achieved since taking office (see below).

SWO, in the spirit of equitability, sent out questions pertaining to the recent discrepancies between the federation, the WPL and the Minister of Sports among other issues, but to date of this publication, Minister Sancho has yet to even acknowledge our request.

To be fair, it is possible that Minister Sancho has been busy with the newly launched Women's Premier League (WPL) and the controversies that surround it. However, SWO would still like to hear from the minister, even if at a later time.

Tim Kee on the other hand has made himself available despite only just returning from Jordan with the national seniors men's team, an astonishing but welcomed act by the president.

Read below a Q&A with the TTFA president.

What are your feelings about what can only be described as a poor performance by the team against Jordan?

RTK: Flex, first of all thank you for giving me the opportunity to answer your questions. I know you’ve been seeking an interview for a some time.  I apologize for the time it took before it came to fruition.

Yes, the Jordan match was extremely disappointing. Coach Hart expressed his displeasure with the effort. But, we must also be careful not to direct ill will toward the players or coaching staff because they have been operating under very difficult circumstances for quite some time. As we go into the Gold Cup and World Cup qualifiers, we must all, including myself, look at what must be done to get behind our teams and provide them what is needed in order for them to have a fighting chance. It is not a coincidence that our worst performance happened immediately after a horrible week between the TTFA and our main partner, The Ministry of Sport. We must work together and agree to move in one direction for the benefit of our national teams. In a spirit of fairness, if I believe promises that were made aren’t being kept, I will speak out, no longer am I prepared to keep quiet and endure the assaults that I experienced over the last 18-months. The vexatious $500. issue with the women team is a good example where the Ministry of Sport was completely at fault.

You seem to be carrying a bad image because of your past affiliation with Jack Warner. People say you are the same and stood there and hid Jack’s secrets and were part of his regime. Can you tell us what your role was during the Warner years?

RTK: This idea that since I was a member of the TTFF executive and VP during the Warner years I was somehow complicit in the inner dealings, nefarious or otherwise, of the then TTFF is simplistic at best. I was asked to serve as treasurer of the TTFF in 2008 but at the beginning of my tenure I requested all the books and accounts and when they were not forthcoming, I resigned the position immediately. Both Mr. Warner and his General Secretary would not release financial records related to the LOC accounts that are now the basis of interest among investigators. In minutes of the Executive Committee meetings after my resignation you will see my response to questions on TTFF financial matters was “Ask Mr. Warner.”

I have built a very solid reputation of fiscal responsibility which to this day has never been questioned in business or financial matters and circles. When I felt information was being withheld, I resigned and focused my attention on developing Futsal.

For any one who is knowledgeable and aware of my time at the TTFF, they would attest that I was not a Warner insider nor was I considered to be one of Warner’s followers. I never was! My extreme independence never permits me to be anybody's boy. In fact, over the years I have established myself as extremely independent in my undertakings and disagreeable. Cross talk between the gentleman and me was not unusual. When the 2006 players advanced their lawsuit, I was the only Executive Committee member who voiced opposition to the way the matter was being handled by Mr. Warner and I expressed that in a very firm tone and terms. I understood, based on my work in the insurance industry as a team leader, trainer and coach, the importance of incentives to workers in order to reach maximum performance. When those incentives are pulled away after the benefit has already been derived, the worker feels cheated and his enthusiasm diminished, destroyed even. I felt there was no reason for our not keeping the promise made to those players. I felt there was an obligation and most importantly, the ability to pay. When I became TTFA President, I addressed the 2006 players first! Unfortunately, we didn’t have the ability to pay in full and were only able to provide $1,7 million USD to the players.

I have been a financial benefactor to football for many years. Because of the extent of my financial contributions, I was invited to serve as an executive member. Paying for tickets for our foreign based players to return home to represent T&T was not unusual.  Providing full accommodation and attendant expenses for over 18 months for the administration to function, I did. The records will reveal this! I have never received a single cent from football, never!!!! I gave football, I never took from football. Serving on the national body I felt was the best way to contribute to our football. When I demitted office in 2010 having been replaced on the board, I left with no desire or inclination to return because of the direction I was seeing the TTFF heading.

Holding secrets? I was never one of those  with whom secrets were shared. That is baseless idle chatter.
What does "part of his regime" mean? Any body who thinks that I am part of anybody's regime in this context, knows nothing about me, absolutely nothing!

Why can’t your company help be a sponsor of the TTFA?

RTK: I think when you say my company you mean Guardian Life. This is a company, a public company with whom my company has contract and is run by a board of directors elected by the public. A provider of life insurance and pensions. This company is different from CLICO, a private insurance company who has the freedom to be a lot more liberal in how they utilize their premiums. The insurance act is specific about how public funds/ premiums are utilized. We are custodians of customer premiums which are not to be used for anything but the core services of our clients, providing a financial safety net for their families. Guardian Group, which is the parent company, has been engaged in discussions with the TTFA. However, their past involvement with sports marketing had focused on different demographics. It is as a result of my involvement with the TTFA that discussions are currently taking place and we hope to establish some collaboration with our grassroots programs.

You have 3 jobs, why? Also, do you feel you can work them effectively or are you biting off more than you can chew? Do you feel politics affect sports?

RTK: Flex, football is the most popular sport in most of the countries in the world. If anyone feels that politics, which is essentially built on popularity in a democratic political structure, can be totally divorced from the most popular pastime, they are being either willfully ignorant or incredibly naïve. That being said, for all of my life I have been multitasking and working for an average of 16 hours a day inclusive of weekends. Apart from the fact that I grew up with a family of means, I, from as early as 14 started to earn my own money while still at school. My school vacation was spent selling books door to door. Working long and hard hours was not and is not unusual. Hence my business being able to assist football financially in my mid twenties. Over the past thirty years in addition to heading a successful sales and marketing insurance business, I chaired boards including State. I ran my investment business, Preside over POS Central Rotary Club, worked with the youths of Laventille and Beetham Gardens while at the same time being VP at TTFF. Being TTFA President, Mayor of the city while also holding the post of treasurer of the PNM. Just remember that all the positions that I have been asked to accept were offered by persons who know about all I do. They know about me what those who run their mouth do not!

For sure they are not stupid! Really, people should refrain from judging by their standards only. By the way, most achievers and business people  I know enjoy being as busy and are even called workaholics. Holding down several positions at the same time is quite usual in this community.

I had a good relationship with the past ministers of sport and have had conflicts with the current minister only because I felt promises made by the Prime Minister to the senior team were being undermined and ignored. I join other sporting organizations in saying that the current Ministry is not serving sports a we expected. How do we justify injecting millions of US $ into CPL that is privately owned by foreigners. Trinidad does not even have a Trinidad team participating. The Red Steel is owned by a foreign businessman. How come our National team is suffering for funds and our tax dollars are used to fund something that is not ours. I have a huge problem with that.

On the issue of why 3 jobs, (I hold 4) my brother, any successful person will have a portfolio that contains a number of various leadership positions. What people have to do in order to determine whether one’s portfolio is too full is to observe the accomplishments in each of the areas that person holds. In the case of football, we all know the current state of football didn’t happen overnight and I inherited a dysfunctional organization, a failed organization even. One that has lost all credibility. Two years into my administration both our men’s and women’s senior teams have regained the top spot in the Caribbean. My enquiries reveal that it is the first time that T&T in recent history has had its Snr. Men and Women teams among FIFA's top 50 Member Associations. We have ten national teams in training. We have significantly reduced the $36 million debt that I met and still counting. More capacity building programs are being offered, We are developing more ways to realize revenue so the TTFA can eventually significantly reduce its dependence on government, and we are on the cusp of introducing a new constitution that has been a desire of many in the football community for decades. A new organization structure has been decided upon.

So while there is so much to be done and to clean up after years of abuse, the TTFA is on the right track. We have had a number of accomplishments. My companies continue to hit its numbers. So I am wary anytime I hear the refrain that I have “too many jobs” I think that such a statement tends to be directed in a way that suggests that I should know my place in society. I will never accept that nor expect my children to do so. 

If PNM wins election what plans for football would they have and what if you are no longer TTFA President, will you feel the same?

RTK: Yes, at this point I have been focused on getting the TTFA a new constitution. We all know the past five years after the main benefactor of the sport pulled his support that football suffered tremendously. I firmly believe that under the PNM football will certainly get more support from state owned enterprises as well as the ministries who will understand that sport is not just a hobby to keep children busy but is a way to develop life skills and create opportunities that may otherwise not be attainable. We must look at sport in a holistic manner and on the competitive end given the athletes who compete for our country the consistent and proper support they need in order to compete against other countries. As for football, there is no other event that galvanizes our population like football. On all levels, but especially youth football. I expect a PNM-led ministry will put forth substantive planning and programs and look to partner with NGOs rather than try to compete against them for programming. There have been too many incidents with the current government, beginning with Mr. Warner’s insistence that football not get any funds from the Ministry of Sport because his candidate for CFU president was not supported by the then TTFF. Football has been politically victimized.

It’s time to utilize football as a tool to build communities and people. I will certainly be in an influential position to ensure that football benefits should the government change. In the end, I am a football fan and want to see all our national teams qualify for world cups and produce top footballers. We can do that but not under the current climate.

Rumor has it that you have depleted the 9.9 million cabinet note that was rewarded to you because the ministry had to back pay arrears since 2012. Why did you allow the FA to submit budgets that used up this money before the Gold Cup. Then blaming the Ministry of Sports for not funding it?

RTK: Well Flex, the operative word in that question is “rumor”. No, the $9.9 million established by the cabinet note has not been depleted. In fact, according to the Ministry officials we are working with on a daily basis have shown that approximately $2.6 million remains for the remainder of the Gold Cup preparation period.

I also want to establish that the TTFA is certainly not a passive party when it comes to raising resources for our programs to not only help them prepare but to also address monies owed; which is a harsh reality that we simply can’t ignore. We actively pursued the government for months on the matter of player and coaches arrears. In the past, if coaches were owed money by the TTFF, that was likely the end of the matter.

I felt that past practice was not right and even though the arrears owed to coaches began before my tenure as President, there was a duty to advocate for the coaches and players who were owed; this includes the 2006 Soca Warriors, who after 7 years of litigation against the TTFF and with little to show, were the first beneficiaries of the new administration when we presented $9 million dollars and agreed to a settlement in an attempt to end, what we thought was a case that caused irreparable damage to T&T football. 

When our attempts to engage corporate T&T did not raise the level of resources we needed to properly support our national programs and other initiatives, we felt the most effective way to develop immediate resources was through the government via cabinet notes.

The government, to their credit, recognized the need to fund the senior men’s team beginning with bringing players and coaches current and making a commitment for funding to the next major tournament, the Gold Cup. The Prime Minister made promises in Parliament and at the press conference after the Caribbean Cup Final assuring our senior team they will have “nothing to worry about” through the Gold Cup. Since then, the recent minister has made statements to indicate that he doesn’t intend to follow through on the Prime Minister’s promise. That is why I spoke out as forcefully as I have in the recent weeks.

It is unsettling to the players and staff to go into competition under such uncertain circumstances when an agreement was established between the TTFA and the government last November. I’m not being “political” when these issues are raised as the minister claims, I am merely speaking the truth.

You should also know that we are going into a third fiscal year since I became President of the TTFA and the governing body of football, including its national teams are still funded in an ad hoc manner and national team football programs are not a fixture in the yearly budget in either the Ministry of Sport or any state owned enterprise budget. Why does this continue?

However, to their credit, ministry and SPORTT employees, past and present, found ways to support the TTFA over the past two years. The real damage that continues is in the choking off of funds from the state owned enterprises. If cricket can get $13 million from NGC, why can’t football? This is not a figment of my imagination Flex. Ask the NLCB Chairman why he told the TTFA General Secretary early last year that he will not give money to a “PNM TTFA”. Or ask why the Chairman of NGC told one of our senior administrators that “NGC won’t give money to football because people who play football don’t wear yellow.” But, somehow when these incidences are aired, I am accused of being “political”. There is an issue of fairness at play because football is the most popular sport in this country and as the governing body that fields over 10 national teams, many of our players are not financially well off. Therefore, we need to develop a lot of resources to underwrite the most basic needs for our players.

This is where state owned entities can help tremendously. So if something as basic as state owned transportation is not inclined to help provide transport for national athletes by providing a transport pass or developing some other mechanism because of my personal political affiliation what they are really doing is punishing the athletes and coaches. That can never be justified, especially when it comes to athletes who represent this country.

I've heard that you guys sent in a U-23 budget to the ministry which would result in the youngsters earning $20k per month each in June and July. Match fees and stipends amounted to over $1 million.

RTK: It is absolutely incorrect to say our U-23 players will be receiving $20K per month. However, soon after the U-23 budget was submitted we came to an agreement with the ministry to eliminate stipends; partly in recognition of the increased challenges created by cuts to ministry budgets. So this budget is being worked on and they will have a camp before leaving for their Olympic qualifier.

What's your thoughts on the Women Premier League (WPL)? Apparently the Ministry of Sports (MoS) sees fit that they run the league because the TTFA do nothing for the Women game and they have decided to step in so the team could compete in the league and be better prepared for the upcoming Pan-Am games. Also, how many games have TTFA arranged for the Women's team since Ecuador? a game that brought in millions of dollars and why isn't more done?

RTK: The WPL, like WoLF, presents opportunities for women footballers and this is a good thing. The minister wanted to use the ministry resources and funds for the WPL project. The reality is that between the Ecuador match and May, we had no Technical Director and the coach was fulfilling commitments with his club team. We attempted a match in March and contacted a number of football associations seeking matches. However, there was no interest shown and our invites were politely declined.

We feel the resources and funds used by SPORTT for the WPL would have been better utilized by applying it towards a proper series of international camps and matches for the U20 and senior teams in preparation for their upcoming tournaments.

But we will not act as an impediment just because we differ on opinion. So, the TTFA sanctioned the league after the ministry issued a prospectus and made a presentation to the TTFA Executive Committee.

Having said that, I was a bit concerned to see our senior team defeat the WPL XI 9-2 as it undermined one of the notions advanced by the league organizers which was the league play would help better prepare the national teams rather than send them abroad for training camps. We will continue to monitor the competition.

What is your plans to be more self sufficient and we want to see action not just empty plans. There are so many things that can be done yet we sit here relying on government help.

RTK: Flex, you seem to be coming from the perspective of quite a few who think the TTFA has done nothing to raise its own resources and reduce our dependence on government funding. In fact, the notion that the TTFA has no sponsors is a false piece of information that has been peddled around. We have several important commercial partners who have been a big part of our ability to support all our national teams.

They include:

Petrotrin - Provided support for the senior women’s team including underwriting the two week training camp at their Beach Camp facility in Palo Seco.

SPoRTT - Sponsorship for the senior men’s national team and youth teams travel and player match fees.

Joma - Full kit sponsor for all 10 national teams. At any one time, the TTFA has six national teams in competition and training and Joma’s support along with Sportway is valued at more than $2 million dollars.

Blue Waters - As a product sponsor, Blue Waters provides hundreds of cases of water to the TTFA for its teams and events.

Toyota of Trinidad and Tobago - Soon upon signing of the national men’s coach, Stephen Hart, the TTFA negotiated a deal with Toyota to provide a vehicle for our head coach and a coaster for transport of our teams during training camps.

Lifestyle Motors - National grassroots clinics are supported by Lifestyle Motors in the transport of personnel and equipment. In addition vehicles and transportation services are provided during tournaments and friendlies.

bMobile - Under 20 team and other youth national teams were supported by bMobile through the underwriting of training camps and other initiatives. In addition, bMobile has also provided support to national grassroots programs.

Miscellaneous Marketing - Operational costs for advertising and media support are covered by MM for national team matches.

Coca-Cola - Another product supplier who was instrumental in successful hosting of the three CFU tournaments in 2014.

HealthNet - A sponsorship worth over $3 million dollars that enables all national team players and technical staff to get free physicals when they come into camp. Also, through the MyCard Sports Card, supporters can further help the TTFA efforts by patronizing selected retailers and the TTFA will receive a rebate percentage from the sales.

Deloitte - $50,000 USD in services to run operations such as the 2014 World Cup Ticket program for the TTFA which enabled the distribution of world cup tickets to take place in a fair and transparent manner and contributed to the Independent Reform Commission Report through structural analysis and recommendations for the TTFA.

In-addition, We've accomplished

Soca Warrior settlement - Definitely an accomplishment despite the irrational reaction of some of the former players when the second half of payments sputtered. Tim Kee gave ALL the funds he received from FIFA and CONCACAF to the players when he could have easily filed for bankruptcy, have the debt discharged and used the $1.5 million as seed money for a new FA.

New Constitution - Led the effort for a new constitution, for which many have been clamoring for decades.  A new constitution will enable clubs to have a say in governance and include a place at the table for a players association. The proposed constitution would also be more egalitarian, allowing the regional associations and minor stakeholders more of a voice, while allowing the TTFA to operate like a well-oiled unit, and without too much hindrance from the ExCo, some of whom seem to have an axe to grind with the current FA leadership.

Debt Reduction - In just over two years, he took $6 million USD in debt and reduced it to $2 million.

FIFA/CONCACAF Support - Increased development programs to serve the football family and qualified the FA for major projects and funding for merchandising and Training Centre which is still in the works despite a few hiccups.  Perhaps most significantly, and in testament to his diplomacy skills, Tim Kee was able to maintain support for the TTFA from both FIFA and CONCACAF despite the significant fallout from the Jack Warner bribery fiasco.  The same continues today in light of the recent upheavals within world football, with Tim Kee quietly working the back channels to ensure support for the TTFA continues.

Government Support - Casting aside political affiliation, he reached out to former Ministry of Sport Mr. Anil Roberts to establish funding for senior team and worked with his successor Rupert Griffith to secure the Cabinet note which currently is the basis for the impasse with the Sports Minister.

Coaching Changes - Introduced the country to Stephen Hart and Randy Waldrum, two coaches who led the national teams to their best respective runs since 2005/06.

I cannot encourage people enough to please support and patronize these companies as they have been ardent supporters of the TTFA in our most trying time and their faith in us and football should be supported by the hundreds of thousands of people in the T&T football family.

We are working with KPMG on getting the TTFA audits completed from 2008 -2014. Keep in mind that all our records...our filing cabinets and all our computers were seized from the TTFF office by the present minister and his 2006 team. On our request to have them returned, we were denied. Further, the past administrations never completed these most important records and it has taken more than a year to piece information needed by our auditors to present draft audits. (KPMG informed the Ministry that getting information from the banks on TTFF accounts was extremely difficult.) However, we have been able to present to the ministry, drafts of 2008-2011 so far and after our drafts for 2012-2014 are complete, the final versions will be published. We are very serious about financial accountability and the information we will share with the public will provide insight on how the TTFA invested its own resources as well as the government back into football.

Also, let me remind you that there is no football association in the world that can operate without a combination of funding from corporate sponsors, television, and government. Also, how do we go into money making ventures without capital. TTFF was black listed by the banks so no loans are possible.

U.S. Soccer would not thrive without its support from Nike. Mexico has been able to reach new heights of on the field success as a result of its support from Televisa. Panama and Costa Rica national programs have catapulted forward through hundreds of millions of dollars of government investment. So to think that other FA’s are “self sufficient” is a bit of a misread of how national programs from around the world are supported.

The only way for a FA to be “self sufficient” is if a deep-pocketed benefactor emerges and underwrites the entire operation. We are coming out of such an arrangement and I don’t think it is healthy for the game because we have a large group of administrators who were never allowed to develop a commercial acumen because their basic needs were provided for by Mr. Warner.

Even the basic responsibility of paying dues by some of our member associations has become a foreign concept in our football culture. We must look at a system where every SUBSTANTIVE revenue stream can be tapped, and this does not mean boat rides and barbecues.

Flex, there are roughly ten areas where we can realize revenue and this is what we have been able to do over the past year to diversify our revenue stream.

Here are some

Corporate sponsorship - Our present sponsors came aboard and were cultivated under my watch and there are more to come. We brought on a new marketing company and their first project will be obtaining support for the merchandising program.

Government - During the last two years and through our direct efforts, the ministry of sport has provided over $20 million in funding to help with national teams programs and match expenses as well as assist TTFA pay arrears owed to coaches and players.

Merchandising - Through the use of a FIFA grant, the TTFA has purchased merchandise, a mobile store, and about to unveil a brand new website that includes its own e-commerce platform so we can sell merchandise around the world. Most importantly, the line of merchandise we are selling will directly impact coaches and players as well will use sales from the new Soca Warriors brand items to fund player and coaches salaries.

Licensing - We have developed and trademarked a new brand called Soca Warriors and with this brand as well as the trademarked TTFA brand, licensed products and services are already on the market at places such as The Fan Club and The development of our licensing program is the single biggest potentially lucrative revenue stream opportunity for the TTFA and we can also tie the sales of licensed goods to twitter accounts of national team players as a way to raise additional revenue for them directly from their fans.

Individual Donors - We will continue to cultivate individual benefactors who wish to support our programs. The idea of creating a booster club or something known as a crowd surfing has been shared with me for the purpose of supporting specific teams and it seems worth exploring.

Dues - Our basic administrative functions and ability to carry out service to our members are directly tied to this revenue stream. More is being done to enable the TTFA to become more assertive in collecting these funds.

Television/Media - A major revenue stream for other developed football nations, we have raised tv and radio revenue, minimal though it may be, it helped in the recent past.  We are now on the cusp of a new media arrangement that will eclipse anything the TTFA has done in the past.

Gates - Bottom line Flex is people have to come out and support the national programs. Currently, games we host lose money. Football cannot move forward without the support of the people. Improved attendance can be a tremendous help to our operations.

Courses/Development Programs - The culture of “freeness” will have to end and the opportunities provided by the FA to develop professional development opportunities should be taken advantage of and invested in by the people who will benefit the most. Courses have been organized and more are on the way.

FIFA/CONCACAF Development – Wherever there is a grant available, we have taken advantage of it. We will continue to go about in this direction and create more programs to benefit the football family.

The TTFA has been operating at basically a minus deficit and does not have any money coming it. How do you guys do it? and how long will you continue? What if PNM doesn't win election, what will be the outcome?

RTK: We have some funds coming in and will continue to find resources. The issue is the timing of the funds and the delays we sometimes experience makes planning a challenge. On the issue of the general election, we will see after September 7. My focus now is on the FA and lining up enough support to take our teams through the end of the year and meet with the stakeholders after the general election to have a frank and candid planning session to create a 10 year development plan for football.

How are we planning to utilize the FIFA international dates.

RTK: We intend to fill as many dates as possible for both the men’s and women’s teams. September and October will be the next round of FIFA dates.

When is the next TTFA election and who can run. Also, give us an update on the new constitution and the Training Centre.

RTK: The constitution is being ratified later this month and the election date will be selected after the member associations alter their respective constitutions to fall in line with the new TTFA constitution. The GOAL Project Training Centre lease is being organized by the ministry. Our General Secretary recently spoke with the Ministry lawyer on the matter.

Do you have any future plans for the other national teams.

RTK: Yes, we plan on meeting with the coaches shortly to go over the recently shared budget that the ministry provided our General Secretary.

You once told me you were looking into bringing foreign Clubs to play in T&T. How possible is that dream? And will we see a new kit for the upcoming Gold Cup.

RTK: We are still looking into the possibilities but it has to be the right team and we have to be reasonably certain that the public will support it. There will be a new kit for the Gold Cup and it will be launched before the tournament.

How much debts have the TTFA paid out since you became President and who else do they owe? Do you feel it would have been better if the TTFA had file bankruptcy to escape debts and build fresh.

RTK: Filing for bankruptcy would have meant all vendors and people owed money by the TTFF would have lost. I think that would have been unfair to all those who put out their resources to help us when we needed them. I would have found great difficulty to live with my conscience. Of the 129 creditors 20% were major creditors but other 80% were poor people who provided things like transport, meals for players, catering for games and other functions etc.We decided it was fairer to take the problems head on, create a reform commission in order to address the structural and governance problems, and chip away at the debt while giving our players the chance to play. Had we gone the bankruptcy way out women’s programs would not have had the chance to shine, our men’s program would not have experienced the good run in the 2013 Gold Cup, players like Kevin Molino and Levi Garcia may not have emerged. So, as challenging as it has been to take on the incredible task of cleaning up after years of dysfunction, in the end I believe the effort will be worth it and the FA will be stronger and in a better position to support football clubs and players.

Do you believe T&T players need a players union.

RTK: I ensured in the new constitution that there be a place in our membership for a players association. In fact, in the settlement with the 2006 players, the TTFA inserted a line that we will not impeded the creation of a players association.

Now that Jack Warner is under fire and the Marvin Lee Stadium may very well be confiscated by the governing body. Do you feel it would be wise to approach whom ever and making a possible deal for making it the home of T&T football.

RTK: We have to wait for the dust to settle a bit before making any assessment. I’ve always been open to the prospect of the TTFA having access to a facility that we should have always benefitted from the beginning. Let’s see what happens.

Copyrights of the Soca Warriors Online - Any press using the following article written by Inshan Mohammed are welcome to do so providing they reveal the source and writer. Furthermore, no portion of this article may be copied without proper credit as well. SWO would also like the thank Mr Tim Kee for taking the time out to this interview for us and also Sheldon Phillips for his assistance.