After four years at the helm of the TTFA…
AFTER four years at the helm, president of the TT Football Association (TTFA) David John-Williams is yet to make an official announcement regarding the impending TTFA elections, which is scheduled for November 24.
Secondary Schools Football League (SSFL) president William Wallace is leading the United TTFA slate and Terminix La Horquetta Rangers owner Richard Ferguson have both declared their intentions to unseat John-Williams as president.
John-Williams, the former president and owner of local football club W Connection, replaced Raymond Tim Kee as TTFA boss on November 2015.
Asked yesterday if he’s looking for another four-year term as president, John-Williams responded, “I’m sure that announcement will come in due course.”
When will that announcement be made, the TTFA head replied, “That’s the best kept secret.”
According to the TTFA constitution, the local governing body have up to ten days before its Annual General Meeting (AGM) and elections to confirm the proposed candidates.
John-Williams’ reign, thus far, as TTFA head has been dominated by three major issues – the Home of Football project, the performances of the national teams and debts the local governing body has been unable to deal with.
HOME OF FOOTBALL
The US$2.5 million Home of Football, at Balmain, Couva, is located next to four local sporting facilities – Ato Boldon Stadium, National Cricket Centre, National Cycling Velodrome and National Aquatic Centre.
The project comprises of training fields, a sports and entertainment centre and a 72-room hotel.
On September 13, during an interview on the TV6 Morning Edition, John-Williams said, “We expect to open it on the first week of next month for business.”
He continued, “We were planning to open it in April of this year. We got a garnishee from the Futsal Association freezing our bank accounts. FIFA withheld our funding (but) people say this is timed for our opening.
“We have an income generation process with an entertainment centre, which is separate from the hotel. We can develop a national academy. We have six training fields, three already completed. We have a facility where all our kids can train regularly. We don’t have to worry about where we’re going to eat and where we’re going to sleep.”
The 72-room hotel was used by the four participating teams (TT, Cuba, Suriname and Grenada) during the Caribbean Football Union (CFU) Under-14 Girls Challenge Series.
Asked yesterday about the official opening date for the Home of Football, at Balmain, Couva, John-Williams responded, “The announcement will come in due course. We’re testing the facility right now.”
Another test the facility is dealing with is a court matter, as United TTFA member Keith Look Loy, who is also the president of the TT Super League, took legal action over the Association’s reluctance to disclose documents relating to the construction of the facility.
In March 2019, Justice Ronnie Boodoosingh ordered the TTFA to hand over documents on the construction of the Home of Football to Look Loy. However, Look Loy admitted noticing a number of discrepancies in the general ledger, including payments he knew ought to have been made not being included.
Look Loy claims the TTFA was unable to provide documents for the majority of the money spent on the project, while some of the unaccounted funds might have been used in cash payments, without formal contracts.
PERFORMANCES OF THE NATIONAL TEAMS
While many will say the coaches and the administrators do not play the game they are ultimately held accountable for the performances of the teams – especially at the national level.
Sadly, none of the T&T teams have made any improvement during John-Williams’ tenure as TTFA president.
The most notable is the men’s team, coached by Dennis Lawrence, who are currently on a 14-game win-less streak, the worst in T&T’s football history.
Barely 1,500 supporters turned up at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, Mucurapo on October 10 to watch a meek T&T team lose 2-0 to Honduras in the Concacaf Nations League. In addition, winger Levi Garcia and wing-back Mekeil Williams were sent off during a heated encounter.
T&T subsequently lost 2-0 to Venezuela on October 14 and, as much as he’s heavily defended by the TTFA boss, it seems a mystery as to how Lawrence can survive so long without a victory, at the international level, since September 2018.
The women’s team, with Shawn Cooper as coach, had a miserable campaign at the Concacaf World Cup qualifiers in the US last year, while the 2019 crop, coached by Stephen De Four, were unable to progress to the Concacaf Olympic qualifiers.
The men’s Under-15, Under-17 and Under-20 teams and also the women’s Under-17 and Under-20 teams fared no better in their respective Concacaf World Cup qualifiers.
And, on Tuesday, the T&T Under-14 women’s team finished as runners-up, to Cuba, at the CFU Challenge Series.
During an interview at the Home of Football on April 5, John-Williams spoke on the financial issues that the TTFA has faced since he took office, including lawsuits from the previous administration.
“Since I took up office, from day one, it was a blow,” John-Williams said then. “We had a players’ strike within five days. We had to pay (former T&T Under-17 women’s coach) Even Pellerud or else face elimination from World Cup qualifying. We’ve had a series of stuff, a series of court judgements. There were players (and) coaches with outstanding salaries. A lot of things are going to come out in the public domain.”
He continued, “Under my tenure as president, it has seemed very controversial (but) I beg to differ. But the old people say when they’re criticising you is when you’re doing something good. At the end of the day, you’ll see who’s telling the truth. “People tend to be critical but they’re not seeing the positive things. It’s just that this president doesn’t talk because it’s not my business to beat my chest. I’m doing my job to the best of my ability.”
John-Williams was speaking in relation to the appeal filed by the TTFA in the High Court, over the matter involving the national Futsal team. On December 13, 2018, in a High Court ruling, the Futsal team was awarded $475,743 plus interest at three per cent per annum, along with legal costs, after suing the TTFA for unpaid salaries, stipends and match fees for their participation at the 2016 Concacaf Futsal Championship in Costa Rica;.