Men’s National Under-23 Team head coach-in-waiting, Angus Eve, is urging Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) president David John-Williams and his Board to accept that they are not up to the job of running local football and resign with immediate effect.
Eve’s plea came within 24 hours of a press conference, chaired by TTFA Board member and supposed technical committee chairman Richard Quan Chan, which revealed that the body is set to scrap its Men’s and Women’s Olympic Teams due to financial issues.
Quan Chan is also part of John-Williams’ Emergency Committee which has become the de facto driver of the local game outside of the Board. The full committee includes: John-Williams, Ewing Davis (vice-president), Selby Browne (VFFOTT), Quan Chan (Southern FA), Anthony Moore (Tobago FA) and Bandele Kamau (Eastern FA).
Eve is Trinidad and Tobago’s all-time most capped senior team player and wore red, black and white at the Portugal 1991 World Youth Cup, which was the first time that the twin island republic qualified for a FIFA tournament.
A serial winner at Secondary Schools Football League (SSFL) level as Naparima College head coach, he lamented that the country’s talented young players no longer have the opportunities of their predecessors.
“People are saying our football is going backward and they are 100 percent correct,” said Eve. “In our days, you went from Under-14 to Under-16 to Under-17 to Under-20 to Under-23 to Senior level. At the end of that process, what you have is a well-rounded player with the requisite experience to play at senior international level or professionally abroad. But now our teams don’t go out and are not prepared for football and the young men don’t stand a chance.
“Look at the gap that exists between the National Under-15 Team and the Senior Team, which are the only teams that are in training. A gap like that is unheard of. I believe if the current TTFA board and president cannot run football, they should put their hands up and resign and give someone else a chance to come in and fix the ills that are going on.”
Eve, who also coaches Club Sando in the Pro League and is a former National Under-23 coach, revealed that he was asked by ‘several members of the TTFA’ to give his coaching services pro bono to the national youth team.
Did the construction workers at the TTFA’s Home of Football building work for free? He turned down the request outright and said he would do so again if asked.
“I have worked very hard to build my reputation as a coach and I believe the TTFA is a multi-million dollar organisation that gets funding every year from FIFA,” Eve told Wired868. “If you are building a hotel that means you have money. Not so? Our coaches are getting jobs outside of Trinidad, which means there are people who value [us].
“I believe no local coach should work for free because they worked very hard to get to this point—and I am very adamant about that. Because if the TTFA got a windfall of money right now, they would go and hire Pep Guardiola or one of those big-name foreign guys; they wouldn’t hire us.”
Yesterday, Quan Chan blamed Concacaf for the possible dismantling of the two national teams for supposedly sending late fixtures to the TTFA. In fact, the Olympic Games has been held at four year intervals without fail since 1948—71 years ago—with the qualifiers occurring in the year before the tournament.
Eve said he was interviewed for the position in 2018 and then asked to resubmit his CV earlier this year. And, despite the TTFA’s unexplained delays, he began to put things in place as soon as he was unofficially declared a frontrunner for the post.
“When they called me two months ago and it was purported in the press that I was the frontrunner,” said Eve, “I immediately contacted players like [Justin] Sadoo and [Jarred] Dass along with coaches like Reynold Carrington, Anthony Streete, etc, who have players we may want to include or can add to the programme. I didn’t want to start behind the eight-ball.
“I even talked to coach Dennis [Lawrence] about players abroad who made themselves available to represent Trinidad and Tobago and could have played for the Under-23s. I had already started due diligence and the boys are very interested.”
Eve said the reality for local footballers at present is bleak at domestic and international level. It is more than six months since there has been any competitive senior club football in the country and he is worried at the prospect of the Pro League and Super League organisations being absorbed into the TTFA.
“Most of the boys [who can play for the National Under-23 Team] are now working in construction or at a Mitsubishi plant in south and so on, because there is no football in the country,” he said. “We have not even had a [TTFA] FA Cup competition in years, so I can’t see how the TTFA can run any league. They called a meeting [for the new local football competition] but can’t even say when the league is starting or what it is called. It is embarrassing.”
Eve dismissed John-Williams’ repeat cries of poverty and pointed out that countries with less were doing more than the TTFA. He suggested it was a matter of priority and again returned to the president’s controversial Home of Football project, which is now a High Court matter due to a galling lack of financial transparency.
At present, FIFA gives over TT$10 million annually to the TTFA. Eve suggested the John-Williams-led body was not making best use of its financial resources.
“FIFA gives money every year for the development of football, not the development of a hotel,” said Eve. “Other nations like Haiti use their money to invest in players and coaches. You cannot tell me we have no money and at the same time build a hotel. Who is going to stay in the hotel if there is no football going on? Cyclists? Swimmers?
“[…] This is not me knocking the idea of the Home of Football. I’m talking about the wisdom of doing it now when there is no money to spend on developing football. Players like [Kevin] Molino, [Sheldon] Bateau, Mekeil Williams, Daneil Cyrus, Shahdon Winchester, Jomal Williams, Adrian Foncette; all of them were our Under-23 players [who I coached] and graduated to the Senior Team.
“Now all we have is teams like the Under-17 Team that are hastily organised and have coaches who are putting themselves up to be ridiculed by working for free. The TTFA president and his board should resign with immediate effect and give someone else the chance to do the job.”
John-Williams and TTFA general secretary Camara David refused to comment on the management of the football body’s finances and the long-term impact of the dismantling of national youth teams.