Thu, Jan

Senior players visit the Home of Football

Senior national footballers have expressed grave concern about the potential sale of the Home of Football (HoF) to help offset the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association’s (TTFA) $98.5 million debt.

Defender Daneil Cyrus, midfielder Keron “Ball Pest” Cummings and another seasoned senior men’s player who requested anonymity questioned the feasibility of such a sale, considering the HoF is the local association’s most prized asset, valued at over $42 million.

These three players have all stayed or overnighted there in preparation for national duty, and were able to use the HoF’s amenities and accommodations on several occasions.

Two weeks ago, however, the normalisation committee – appointed by FIFA in March 2020 to run TTFA’s daily affairs and establish a debt-repayment plan – said the potential sale of the HoF is a viable option to reduce its arrears.

This idea has been shunned by several sportsmen and women and administrators, including TT Olympic Committee president Brian Lewis, who believe the HoF serves to benefit all sports and is an integral part of Couva’s hub of elite sporting venues.

Cyrus, who is in Thailand playing for club Chainat Hornbill, said, “I think it’s a bad idea because if the HoF is sold, the TTFA would have to pay hotels for the teams (foreign and local) to stay in. From my experience, that’s a bad idea because hotels complained in the past that TTFA owed them money and so on.

“If they cannot pay, then why go into more debt? That’s a no-no. But that’s my point of view, I could be wrong.”

Cyrus said the rooms were good but the facility was still “missing a few things” which made the structure somewhat incomplete.

If the only venue equipped to house footballers without charge is sold, then hoteliers would inevitably reap the benefits of TTFA’s financial mismanagement and possible HoF sale, he added.

“It was good to be honest, the rooms were ok. I think it’s good to hold onto it, and it's saving money, I think.

“So much money was spent to build it and now players would still have to use hotels? And even if you sell ,how much debt that money could cover?”

Cummings shared similar sentiments and does not believe putting the HoF up for sale is a progressive move.

While he understands TTFA’s financial detriment, the former North East Stars, San Juan Jabloteh and W Connection player, like Lewis, believes the facility can also be used to house foreign athletes who come to train at the nearby National Cycling Centre and National Aquatic Centre.

Both the swimming and cycling centres, the Ato Boldon Stadium and National Cricket Centre were built in the same area. Altogether, these respective locations make up a nexus of elite sporting venues for athletics, football, swimming, cycling and cricket.

Cummings said, “It shows you how the people in charge of football have been mismanaging.

“How could the option be to sell something that was built to develop the sport and young players? I don’t see it. It’s a backward step because now players would have to go to hotels.”

During his stay at the HoF, Cummings, said there was little in-house maintenance, and it is in need of regular upkeep if it is to maintain a high standard to house both local and international athletes and staff.

The 33-year-old added, “If the HoF is not maintained, it will run itself into the ground. If we sell the HoF, then we might just go back to using excuses that we cannot prepare for tournaments properly because we have no headquarters.

“Everyone who comes into power (TTFA) comes with a different eye for the whole sport and it keeps going downhill. In the past, when wehad no facility, we owed the majority of hotels. Do we want to go back to that? How can you sell your house and then stay outside? It just doesn’t make sense.”

The senior national who chose to remain anonymous said the facility could be used to benefit not only senior players, but the upcoming generation of national footballers.

He said, “The structure itself certainly has some curious design features and the workmanship is shoddy. It seems like they were in a rush to complete it.

“But overall, whilst the amenities aren't super-luxurious, they are fit for purposes such as hosting a football-camp-type scenario.

"As with any facility, maintenance is key. It’s clearly an administrative and financial matter, and I’m just a player. But it’s obvious the HoF would benefit players and TT football if such a facility is fully utilised.”

SOURCE: T&T Newsday