Sun, Jul


Those who know me are very much aware that I love cul­ture just as much as I love my sport. One of my favourite hob­bies is to sit and lis­ten to all types of mu­sic. From lo­cal melodies to the for­eign stuff, are all right up my al­ley. I took a week off and left the coun­try to at­tend El­ton John's farewell tour en­ti­tled Good­bye Yel­low Brick Road. The fa­mous Madi­son Square Gar­den was the venue and a packed are­na wit­nessed a scin­til­lat­ing per­for­mance from a leg­end in the mu­sic world. Even though I saw him be­fore, I felt I couldn't miss this op­por­tu­ni­ty as he was one I grew up with lis­ten­ing to his songs.

Nat­u­ral­ly, with be­ing away I had some catch­ing up to do with all the hap­pen­ings in sweet T&T. Un­for­tu­nate­ly, some sad news greet­ed me when I was abroad as I heard of the demise of Chef Joe Brown. Some mo­torists be­lieve that cy­clists have lit­tle to no rights on the road and treat them as nui­sance val­ue, and at times they have to be ul­tra-cau­tious when ei­ther train­ing or rac­ing. I re­mem­ber many years ago when my for­mer com­pa­ny was part of spon­sor­ing a road race in To­ba­go, we had to send a car ahead of the cy­clists with a loud­speak­er shout­ing, “the cy­clists are com­ing, the cy­clists are com­ing!” It seemed to have lit­tle im­pact on dri­vers as some still felt the rac­ers were dis­turb­ing their move­ments on a Sun­day morn­ing.

The most in­ter­est­ing sto­ry for me, how­ev­er, was the Pres­i­dent of the TTFA show­ing the 'home of foot­ball' project to rep­re­sen­ta­tives from oth­er sport­ing bod­ies and the me­dia. Based on the sto­ry, the Pres­i­dent seems ex­treme­ly well-versed on the en­gi­neer­ing mech­a­nisms of the build­ing and the tech­nol­o­gy that is be­ing used in the con­struc­tion phase. He al­so boast­ed about the en­er­gy us­age and the type of air con­di­tion­ing sys­tem that is to be in­stalled.

Im­pres­sive, very im­pres­sive in­deed! But, I un­der­stand the good­ly gen­tle­man is very much in­to con­struc­tion so if he couldn't con­vince the var­i­ous sport­ing rep­re­sen­ta­tives, I would have been dis­ap­point­ed. I was al­so in­ter­est­ed in see­ing who else from the lo­cal gov­ern­ing foot­ball body went on the tour but I on­ly saw the names of the Vice Pres­i­dent, the Gen­er­al Sec­re­tary and two board mem­bers. I thought this to be a lit­tle strange as I would have hoped more board mem­bers would have been there with his hand in hand to show­case the fa­cil­i­ty.

I have not seen the fa­cil­i­ty but based on some of the rep­re­sen­ta­tives' com­ments, it ap­pears to be an im­pres­sive and ex­cel­lent fa­cil­i­ty. I have no doubt that if man­aged well (that may be an­oth­er sto­ry) this will be a boost for foot­ball off the field. The oth­er sport­ing bod­ies could very well now be look­ing at how they can do some­thing per­haps on a small­er scale. On the oth­er hand, net­ball and cy­cling are on such a high based on per­for­mances that I am sure the last thing on their minds is a ho­tel.

At long last, we see some fig­ures were be­ing bandied about by the TTFA head to his op­po­site num­bers and he stat­ed that the project is fund­ed by FI­FA at a cost of TT $18 Mil­lion (is there any de­vel­op­ment mon­ey re­main­ing?). He then talked about the as­set base of foot­ball which sounds re­al­ly sweet.

How­ev­er, I ask the ques­tion: how many mem­bers from the foot­ball body were at the pre­sen­ta­tion? It did not seem to have many and the wide­ly re­port­ed de­cline of in­vi­ta­tions ex­tend­ed by the TTFA to mem­bers of the CFA, NFA, SS­FL, WoLF, cit­ing a lack of trans­paren­cy spoke vol­umes. I mean re­al­ly, how dif­fi­cult is it to say where the TT $18 Mil­lion FI­FA dol­lars went? These are very sim­ple ques­tions; (1) Who was the con­trac­tor that won the bid? (2) How many com­pa­nies ten­dered for the project? (3) How was the con­trac­tor cho­sen over oth­er con­trac­tors? (4) What is the fi­nal bud­get­ed cost of the project? (5) Was FI­FA mon­ey sole­ly giv­en for this 'home of foot­ball'? (6) How much will it cost the TTFA to run the 'home of foot­ball' on a year­ly ba­sis?

It is ter­ri­bly mind-bog­gling that this project is near­ly one year old and the an­swers to some of those sim­ple ques­tions are un­known, and ap­par­ent­ly be­ing evad­ed. Yet one reads in the press the very man at the helm of the TTFA was quot­ed as say­ing, “I have ab­solute­ly no prob­lem with trans­paren­cy in this project. But we took a dif­fer­ent ap­proach that a lot of peo­ple are not too hap­py with.” Wow! Can some­one ex­plain that to me?

How dif­fi­cult is it to just give some an­swers to the ques­tions posed by board mem­bers? If there is no prob­lem with trans­paren­cy, then stop pussy-foot­ing. Foot­ball is owned and sup­port­ed by the peo­ple of Trinidad and To­ba­go. We have long gone away from foot­ball be­ing owned by one man in this coun­try; at least he got us to a World Cup. But if the hi­er­ar­chy gen­uine­ly be­lieves that a 72 room ho­tel will make us qual­i­fy for the 2022 World Cup, I will hold my laugh un­til I meet Tom­my and George.

On a brighter note, good luck to the Windies women in the World T20 semi­fi­nal to­day against Aus­tralia; and to the Past crick­eters' so­ci­ety fundrais­er sched­ule for Sat­ur­day night where the great­est all-rounder ever, Sir Garfield Sobers, as well as a host of for­mer lo­cal crick­eters, will be ho­n­oured.

SOURCE: T&T Guardian