Thu, Jun

TT senior men’s football team head coach Terry Fenwick, right, and trainer Oswald Birchwood during a training session and luncheon, at the Police Barracks, St James, on Friday. - ROGER JACOB

A LACK of financial support from the FIFA-appointed normalisation committee, which deals with the affairs of the TT Football Association (TTFA), is hampering the preparations of the national men’s team ahead of a pair of 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifiers.

They are due to be played against Guyana (March 25 in the Dominican Republic) and Puerto Rico (March 28 in Puerto Rico).

T&T men’s team coach Terry Fenwick said local-based players are having to choose their jobs instead of attending training sessions, especially since the TT Pro League has been inactive since the covid19 lockdown in March 2020.

“This last weekend we were meant to be in Tobago for a camp, to play two games, and the normalisation (committee) couldn’t secure transport (to and from Tobago) for us, which has been pretty much consistent,” said Fenwick on Monday.

The T&T team were expected to play an Orange XI and Tobago Phoenix last weekend in Tobago. Instead, they were only able to face the Orange XI on Saturday, at the Police Barracks in St James, a game in which T&T prevailed 8-0.

“The Commissioner of Police (Gary Griffith) has given us transport throughout 2020 and this year, and we’ve not had much support (from the normalisation committee) as far as that is concerned,” Fenwick said. “It was great to bring the twin isles together, to see the guys that they have.

“We’re literally making things happen. I’ve got players that are unable to travel for training because they’ve got no money. I’ve got players that are having to choose a job rather than train with the national team, because of a lack of funding.”

There has been talk about Griffith’s involvement in the team, as the players have used the barracks (as well as the Hasely Crawford Stadium, Mucurapo) as a training venue, while Griffith’s son Gary III is among the T&T training squad.

Fenwick was quick to point out, “Unless we’d had the support from (Commissioner) Griffith, we would have had no transport for the players to come from Central and South for training sessions. They would not have been fed, nor even (received) drinks. My Football Factory is providing a great deal of equipment for training sessions. We literally are scrambling to keep things going. It’s not easy.

“We’ve had friendlies that have been quashed because we’ve not been able to keep up with the schedules that the technical staff have submitted for friendlies and training sessions. We’ve not had any response.”

Asked if he thinks the lack of support the team has received is related to its 7-0 battering by hosts United States in a friendly international on January 31, Fenwick responded, “Not really.

“We hadn’t kicked a ball in 14-15 months, in the Pro League. The USA game was the only game I’ve had since the normalisation (committee) took over, and that came at no expense to the TTFA.

“If it came around again, I’d take it again. It was an option to see players and get them experience.”