Recently axed national senior men’s football team goalkeeper coach and former T&T World Cup goalkeeper Kelvin Jack has penned a farewell letter thanking his fellow technical staff members and players for their support during his stint.
His letter comes in the midst of the senior national team’s failure to advance past the opening round of the FIFA World Cup Qualifiers, as well as a public row in the team camp in which he was involved in a heated war of words with Gary Griffith III, the son of Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith, ahead of the Bahamas match, that ended in a goalless draw.
Jack, the man between the posts during the country’s 2006 World Cup campaign, was recruited in January last year under the William Wallace-led United T&T Football Association as the goalkeeper coach for all the national teams, but because of the COVID-19 pandemic, he could not take up duty, being stashed away at home in England while the country’s borders were closed.
However, Robert Hadad, chairman of the FIFA-appointed Normalisation Committee, brought him back to join the team in March ahead of the team’s matches with Guyana and Puerto Rico, which ended in 3-0 win for T&T and a 1-1, respectively.
Jack, respected across T&T and England for his knowledge of the games, and in particular goalkeeping, found it troublesome to get along with sacked T&T coach Terry Fenwick. And as he stood up against, what he considered to be indiscipline by junior players, it appeared to have cost him his job.
Prior to Jack’s return home, former England international Fenwick worked almost semi-paralysed in the preparation of his goalkeepers.
Jack, who has always spoken out on the ills of T&T football, was rightfully given his job alongside Fenwick, the head coach, Derek King, assistant coach who was also Under-20 coach, then manager Basil Thompson, equipment manager Michael Williams and trainer Oswin Birchwood.
In spite of his short stay, Jack was thankful, saying: “I would like to take the time to thank the fans for their incredible support during my short tenure as an assistant and goalkeeping coach of the senior national football team. The hundreds of messages of support were truly humbling. I want to thank the members of staff for making me feel so welcomed from my first day on the job. To the players- I thank you for the respect and absolute commitment you displayed. Please never give up.
"Although the ultimate mission was not achieved, be sure to know that I gave my absolute best everyday in my role. I go away with my head held high knowing that my love and passion for my country is even stronger; it’s infinite.
He ended: I love you guys and I’m sure this story is only on pause. I will be supporting you guys from afar.”
Following the early exit from World Cup qualification in a group that consisted of Caribbean minnows Puerto Rico as well, there were calls for Fenwick to be fired.
But shockingly on June 11, the FIFA appointed Normalisation Committee (NC) of the T&T Football Association (TTFA) issued a press release stating that assistant coach King and goalkeeper coach Jack were fired from their positions and were in the process of finalising severance while discussions were still ongoing with Fenwick, who appointed in December 2019, was eventually shown the door a few days later as well.
The TTFA, in a press release, said the association's current financial situation also threatens its ability to pay the coaches the salaries they were committed to.
While noting that they met with King and Jack and came to a mutual agreement for separation, the NC thanked both men for their work, what it describes as their professionalism and sincere understanding, and wished them all the best for their future endeavours.