Sat, Dec

DJW passes...Football community in mourning

LOVE him or not, David John-Williams will always be remembered as the president to finally get the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) a home.

The former TTFA president (2015-19) died early yesterday. He was the founder and president of the W Connection Football Club who possessed a genuine passion and dedication for the growth of the sport.

John-Williams loved culture and thought himself to be a good disc jockey (DJ) as he sometimes deejayed at his W Connection’s team matches-- where he dusted off the foreign and local classics.

He loved football and invested heavily in players. His passionate for the game evident as many a time he could be heard shouting at referees during W Connection matches. But, with the huge responsibility on becoming TTFA president, he began to “behave himself” a lot more.

As TTFA president, John-Williams was a divisive figure. He felt you were either in his corner or against him. He brought FIFA president Gianni Infantino and CONCACAF president and FIFA vice-president Victor Montagliani to Trinidad for the inauguration of the TTFA’s Home of Football, which was also attended by Prime Minister Keith Rowley and Minister of Sport and Youth Affairs Shamfa Cudjoe.

John-Williams would openly boast that regardless of what anyone said about him, no one could take away the fact that he built the ‘Home of Football’. He put in personal time and work into it and could be seen daily, muddy boots and all, at the venue, supervising its construction.

But with the Home of Football came accusations that John-Williams was a dictator, refusing to show TTFA Board Members financial details relating to the construction of the controversial HoF.

Coaches Anton Corneal, Stephen Hart and Technical Director Kendall Walkes may all have bitter-sweet memories from their dealings with John-Williams. All instituted legal action against the TTFA, when under his stewardship, for breach of contract.

One of John-Williams’ greatest critics was Referees Association president Osmond Downer, who offered condolences on behalf of his representative body, on learning of John-Williams’ passing.

Downer credited John-Williams for his role in bringing much-needed professionalism to T&T football through his W Connection FC. “As far as football is concerned, John-Williams made valuable contribution in a certain way. He was one of the pioneers of professional football in the Trinidad and Tobago Pro League with his club W Connection,” stated Downer, adding, “He would not be as favourably remembered as president of the TTFA.”

Former national captain Clayton Morris was also dealing with his own loss yesterday; the passing of his sister, who is also the mother of Jevon Morris, the Terminix La Horquetta Rangers stopper. Additionally, Morris is also mourning the death of the 10-year-old daughter of goalkeeper Perry Martin, one of his players when Morris coached the national Futsal team.

Morris was anything but a fan of John-Williams’ style of management. But he none-the-less recognised the contribution John-Williams made to football. “It is always sad to see the passing of a the life of someone who was part of your journey,” said Morris. The former T&T Super League president added: “Despite everything, you have to look at what the person contributed to your journey -- whether positive or negative.”

Former AC Port of Spain manager Michael Awai was one of those still in John-Williams’ corner after John-Williams lost to William Wallace when running to be re-elected as TTFA president. “I think he was misunderstood,” opined Awai. “I think he should also have been more inclusive in his management style. That is why he lost the election.”

But Awai is also of the firm view that John-Williams contributed greatly and was unfairly vilified at times. “The initiative of the Home of Football was a fantastic contribution,” Awai stressed. “The case pertaining to him having a suspected Panama bank account will soon come to an end, and I think people of Trinidad and Tobago will finally get the truth, and all that will be put to rest once and for all.”

The TTFA was among those expressing its deepest sympathies to John-Williams’ immediate family and friends. “Affectionately known as “Presi”, his contributions and commitment over the last decades will be remembered,” the TTFA stated.

TTFA normalisation committee Chairman Robert Hadad, said: “David’s passion for and knowledge of the game will be well remembered. My thoughts and prayers are with his family at this time.”

SOURCE: T&T Express