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