Sun, Sep

Dion La Foucade, left, and Olympic laser class sailor Andrew Lewis -

TT FOOTBALL Association (TTFA) technical director Dion La Foucade says the FIFA-appointed normalisation committee is engaged in programmes that bode well for the future of the sport locally.

La Foucade was interviewed on Sportsmax following T&T's anticlimactic exit from 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifying with a goalless draw against the Bahamas on Saturday. That result meant T&T would be unable to finish top of the group to earn a spot in the next qualification round. The team played its final group match against St Kitts and Nevis on Tuesday evening.

During the interview, one of the hosts asked La Foucade if he felt off-field problems in the local sport made it onto the pitch. He replied, "We could say many things caused that problem (draw against the Bahamas) but it would be unfair of me to say that."

In terms of form, the Bahamas lost their opening three matches while conceding 15 unanswered goals. T&T started strongly against Guyana, winning 3-0 on March 25, before being held to a disappointing 1-1 draw against Puerto Rico. A win against the Bahamas was compulsory for T&T to stand a chance of progressing since underdogs St Kitts/Nevis won their opening three matches.

When pressed in the interview, La Foucade admitted the result was not one he saw coming.

"The whole country was obviously surprised but these things do happen," he said.

However, he spoke confidently about the association's plan to improve the structure of the organisation at all levels.

"I have been meeting with FIFA with regards to their Echo Analytics forensic study that they did on Trinidad and Tobago, along with other countries, and that report is due out in a few weeks. So they're going to give us some guidance," he said.

"We're really going to start looking at, properly, from grassroots to the elite ... talent identification, how do we get players (selected), the science side of it... So it's really a holistic approach that we have to use. To say one reason or the other as to why T&T football is so low, it really encompasses many factors but from where I sit, the future, maybe not right now, we are going to come out of this hole because T&T was a powerhouse in the Caribbean and in Concacaf and we will get back there. I am sure for that.

La Foucade has been instrumental in securing top coaches, managers and other experts in all areas of the sport, to share presentations for the TTFA's two ongoing series of virtual conferences titled Everybody In, designed for coaches, and There is Hope, for athletes in any sport between the ages of 10 and 19.

Saturday's Everybody In seminar will feature a coach from German club Hoffenheim's academy, and a day later, T&T Olympic-bound sailor Andrew Lewis will feature for the There is Hope Programme.

"I can tell you from the meetings I've been in that we have been looking at the overall programme," La Foucade said, adding that the focus will be on creating a sustainable structure.