Wed, Aug


Some­thing very laugh­able caught my eye in last Sun­day's Guardian.

It in­volved a for­mer na­tion­al coach and gen­er­al coun­cil mem­ber shar­ing his views in an in­ter­view on the T&T Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion (TTFA) an­nu­al gen­er­al meet­ing (AGM) held on No­vem­ber 24. The items on the agen­da were dis­cussed but not com­plet­ed so the meet­ing was ad­journed to De­cem­ber 9 (this Sun­day).

Still to be dis­cussed is the ap­proval of fi­nan­cial state­ments for 2017, ap­proval of the 2019 bud­get and a mo­tion of no con­fi­dence in the pres­i­dent.

Be­fore the good­ly gen­tle­man, who prob­a­bly has his heart in the right place for foot­ball, gave his views on the meet­ing, he de­clared, "in my ef­forts to be trans­par­ent I must de­clare be­fore an­swer­ing any ques­tion in this in­ter­view that I am a friend of David John-Williams and I cam­paigned for his slate in the 2015 TTFA elec­tion".

At that point, I was faced with the prospect of spend­ing some pre­cious time on a Sun­day morn­ing hav­ing just come from church, with three Pre­mier League der­by match­es to come, to read this seem­ing­ly im­par­tial in­ter­view. For what it was worth, I de­cid­ed to go through it. I loved the diplo­ma­cy in some an­swers to some in­ter­est­ing ques­tions such as whether the pres­i­dent is open and trans­par­ent with the gen­er­al mem­ber­ship.

My ques­tion is if the pres­i­dent is open and trans­par­ent, why is he wor­ried about how his de­trac­tors use in­for­ma­tion re­ceived with­in the TTFA? I must be so naive, or sim­ply put, I must be an aw­ful politi­cian. I be­lieve in hon­esty, in­tegri­ty and no mat­ter how de­trac­tors twist in­for­ma­tion on so­cial me­dia, the truth and noth­ing but the truth will al­ways pre­vail.

We can all agree that the 'Home of Foot­ball' is an ex­cel­lent ini­tia­tive but why can't the in­for­ma­tion be made pub­lic? It is in­ter­est­ing in the in­ter­view that it was not­ed that the pres­i­dent could have han­dled the is­sues sur­round­ing the project dif­fer­ent­ly. Of course, one of the ways he could have ap­proached this was to sim­ply come out and tell the pub­lic what was the deal with the project if there is one. I be­lieve a year has passed and all the pub­lic has been told is that it has been fund­ed by FI­FA to the tune of TT$18 Mil­lion.

This whole sor­did di­vi­sion with­in the TTFA ranks based on the in­ter­view has de­gen­er­at­ed in­to a 'they say - we say' af­fair, even to the ex­tent where it is al­leged that the op­po­nents of the pres­i­dent are more skil­ful than him in pre­sent­ing half of the sto­ry to so­cial me­dia. I am sure the pres­i­dent has full ac­cess to all forms of me­dia in this coun­try and I am even more cer­tain that all the me­dia wants is cor­rect and truth­ful in­for­ma­tion com­ing from the pres­i­dent's of­fice.

I was un­sure where we were head­ing with this an­swer but I now un­der­stand that it was to make a point that the op­po­nents have not re­port­ed a scan­dal (here we go again) which has been un­earthed re­gard­ing a for­mer pres­i­dent and an al­leged email and sworn af­fi­davit. There­fore, if they haven't as you say, “buss that mark”, why doesn't who­ev­er with­in your rank and file “buss that mark”? Don't you think you owe it to the foot­ball-lov­ing pub­lic of T&T to get the truth about what­ev­er scan­dal is tak­ing place? Or are all of you “sis­sy like”, to re­state your words, and afraid to speak out?

To the big ques­tion: is the TTFA bet­ter off to­day than it was be­fore John-Williams be­came pres­i­dent? The cam­paign man­ag­er was seem­ing­ly chary in his as­sess­ment. He al­lud­ed to the TTFA be­ing in a bet­ter fi­nan­cial stand­ing from a debt man­age­ment and as­set base stand­point, as well as be­ing more fi­nan­cial­ly sus­tain­able.

I am over­joyed to know the TTFA is ad­dress­ing its debts so very quick­ly. Per­haps we should see where all the for­mer, and in some cas­es, cur­rent na­tion­al coach­es have been paid. Some coach­es have come and gone in re­cent years and we hear of them bit­ter­ly com­plain­ing that they are owed mon­ey. I know pri­vate com­pa­nies are owed and some are in a le­gal bat­tle with the TTFA. But the TTFA is ap­par­ent­ly bet­ter off to­day in ad­dress­ing its debts. Re­al­ly?

At least some good came out of the in­ter­view when it was re­vealed that re­sults on the field “are not great at the mo­ment”. To be fac­tu­al, re­sults are poor. Let us go back to qual­i­fi­ca­tion for the World Cup and the fir­ing of the coach; the de­ba­cle with the women's na­tion­al team; the Un­der-20 and U-17 men's teams are strug­gling. Dis­as­ter af­ter dis­as­ter with our na­tion­al teams and we are start­ing to be the laugh­ing stock of the Caribbean while Ja­maica con­tin­ues to move up in all di­vi­sions.

Com­plaints of no fund­ing for prepa­ra­tion of the na­tion­al teams? What about spon­sors? Can the good­ly gen­tle­man tell me how many spon­sors are knock­ing down the door of the TTFA? Say what you wish about Cor­po­rate T&T but they know a good prod­uct when they see one and for years T&T foot­ball had been a good prod­uct. One just has to look back at the last 'Hex' qual­i­fy­ing stage when quite a few spon­sors came on board but as re­sults did not go our way, they moved away. Let us, how­ev­er, be re­al­is­tic; which cor­po­ra­tion would want to get in­volved in an or­gan­i­sa­tion shroud­ed in se­cre­cy and di­vid­ed with board mem­bers not trust­ing their leader?

I con­tin­ue to hope and pray that one day we will have a TTFA that en­gages far more with the stake­hold­ers in foot­ball. En­gage the me­dia (isn't there a me­dia re­la­tions of­fi­cer?) and care more for the peo­ple of T&T who so dear­ly love and sup­port foot­ball.

SOURCE: T&T Guardian