Oliver CampsSpare change?

The Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation (TTFF) has joined the queue for State funding alongside public servants and credit union depositors.

Do be quick about it though. The "Soca Warriors" play their first 2014 World Cup qualifier on September 2, 2011.

The TTFF has taken a pounding for its perceived lack of transparency in recent times. Last year, High Court Judge Devindra Rampersad described its financial statements as "troubling" and "totally unaccountable".

Even the name of the local football governing body is puzzling.

The Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) is the body entrusted with the right to run local football by virtue of a local Act of Parliament.

And, although the body began calling itself the "TTFF" nearly two decades ago, the actual TTFF was only officially registered in April 2006 as a private limited company by its sole trader and the TTFF president—I mean, TTFA president—Oliver Camps.

Now do you understand? No matter, the TTFF that is conducting the business of the TTFA—not to be confused with the TTFF ran by the President of the other TTFF—wants a couple million more in taxpayers dollars. Please.

Camps admitted to the Mirror that the TTFF is virtually bankrupt and is desperate for more taxpayers' money to save zonal football clubs and kick start its 2014 World Cup campaign.

"You can say (we are bankrupt)," said Camps, "although I think that is a little harsh."

Nearly five years since the 2006 World Cup, the TTFF is yet to account for over $100 million in revenue, according to information gleaned from a Freedom of Information request in 2007. It might be similarly harsh to describe that as a "misappropriation of funds". Perhaps "permanently in flux" is better.

Still, Camps insisted that "grassroots football" was on its deathbed and he had every intention of forming a rescue party.

"I have a strong feeling about assisting clubs," said Camps, who has been President since 1992. "Clubs cannot survive on their own... Look at clubs like Shamrock, Maple, Malvern and so on that have disappeared.

They just could not carry on because they had no assistance and the same thing will happen to the young clubs coming up.

"Where the devil are they going to get funding?"

(The likes of Maple and Malvern still exist although, granted, their glamour days are long gone).

Camps revealed that Sport Minister Anil Roberts has become inaccessible to the TTFF in recent times. (FIFA has ordered the TTFF to stay clear of its disgraced former special advisor Jack Warner or face sanctions).

"We are not getting much cooperation from the Ministry of Sport," said Camps. "I expected much more support from the Minister of Sport because Mr Roberts is a sportsman and he knows what the various sporting bodies have to go through…
"So far, my best times were when Roger Boynes was (Minister of Sport)… He understood what we needed."

The national football team has not played since its humiliating group stage exit from the Caribbean Cup, last November, while the TTFF is yet to settle debts with players and coaching staff accrued in 2010—not to mention the outstanding bonus payments for its 2006 World Cup team.

The TTFF hired experienced German coach, Otto Pfister, in March but is yet to arrange a warm-up game for the benefit of his squad. Camps claimed the inactivity of the team was down to financial problems as several sponsors opted not to renew deals with the body.

Camps and general secretary Richard Groden face the threat of FIFA sanctions too after failing to report attempted bribes at a Caribbean Football Union (CFU) meeting in Port of Spain on May 10, which led to Warner's resignation and a life ban for ex-Asian Football Confederation (AFC) president Mohamed Bin Hammam.

However, Camps, who was returned unopposed as TTFF president last November, vowed not to resign his post.

"I don’t ever run from problems," said Camps, "that is not my speed. I have to try to help.

"If I run away, I will be showing I have no interest in the development of the young people."

Now, if only someone will write the TTFF another cheque.