NATIONAL football coach Terry Fenwick has had arguably the most turbulent start to a head coaching position in T&T history, without playing a single game.
Fenwick was announced as the new T&T coach on December 19, 2019, by former T&T Football Association (TTFA) president William Wallace. Three months later, Wallace was removed by FIFA and a normalisation committee placed in charge of the local governing body.
The move by FIFA has been challenged by Wallace and the matter is currently before the High Court. The battle for control of the TTFA has been a bitter one with a fight for control of the TTFA’s First Citizens account.
FIFA’s response has been to starve the TTFA of funding until the issue has been resolved.
This has left Fenwick, assistant coaches and technical staff unpaid for months.
Apart from the FIFA intervention, covid19 has delayed Fenwick’s official debut.
The Soca Warriors, ranked 105 in the world by FIFA, were scheduled to play two friendlies against Canada, ranked 73rd, on March 27 and 31 in the North American country when the pandemic shut down travel all around the world.
Speaking to Newsday on Tuesday, Fenwick said the off-the-field drama has frustrated him.
“My frustration has been the typical politics of T&T football – the lack of real leadership at the top,” he said.
“Of course, we have the normalisation committee kicked in. We’ve got court cases, it’s really not good for the youngsters. It’s not good for the technical staff, coaches that we’ve got. They don’t know who their leaders are at the moment until the court case goes through.
“Everybody is sitting on the bench, pretty much. It’s not helping the youngsters of this country, there’s possibly a generation of kids could go under the bus because of the incompetence of several different structures of management of T&T football.”
Fenwick’s contract has been a source of controversy as Wallace signed off on a higher salary and a number of perks contrary to what was agreed upon by the TTFA board.
Fenwick’s contract pays him US$20,000 per month, US$2,500 more than what the TTFA board had agreed to offer him.
Asked to respond to accusations that he asked for too much from the TTFA, Fenwick said, “I just think, like everything, it’s a negotiation. I negotiated with members of the board that were acting on behalf of the board. My contract was done through Ravi Rajcoomar SC, so I always had good advice in the background as to how I should move forward. I’ve done everything right, everything is legally binding.”
Fenwick said he remains focused on his dream job despite his contract being a hot topic.
“The issues that I see are certainly not on my side. It’s something that I negotiated and in the end, it’s a job I always wanted to do because I know the quality of kids we have on the ground.
“More than anything, I wanted to change the style, move away from what was negative and stopping us from getting results.
“The contract side of it, it’s been an issue for plenty of people but I’ve not really taken it on.”
United TTFA member Keith Look Loy recently told Newsday he considers all TTFA contracts signed without board approval to be null and void. Wallace has been mum of late but has promised to release a statement to address all the contentious issues.
Fenwick expressed gratitude for his assistant coaches and other technical staff for working despite the financial constraints.
He lauded the benevolence of team doctor Akash Dhanai who has been also working for free.
“I’ve got a meeting on Wednesday with our doctor...We’ve come out of covid(19) and now we’re struggling with Sahara dust. I cancelled training on Monday, it could well be cancelled on Wednesday because of the same dust issue.
“But the doctor and I will be meeting on how we’re going to tackle issues with certain players that might have asthma, respiratory issues. We’re trying to cover everything, but we have no money.
“Thank God the doctor’s been excellent; he’s been helping us out, all the coaches have been doing everything for free.”
SOURCE: T&T Newsday