Wed, Jun

Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith (left), Terry Fenwick (right)

Part II of an investigation into football scholarships in Trinidad and Tobago.

THE T&T Police Service (TTPS) approached State-owned National Lotteries Control Board (NLCB) in 2019 seeking sponsorship to the tune of $1 million to offset costs associated with the Commissioner’s Cup.

The request was made during a presentation in early 2019 to the NLCB by Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith, who was armed with an invoice dated May 27, 2019 submitted by the Football Factory Foundation (FFF) headed by then-national football coach Terry Fenwick.

FFF is a charitable sports organisation operated by Fenwick, which had teamed up with the TTPS in 2019 to host the Commissioner’s Cup.

The May 27 invoice submitted by Fenwick addressed to the TTPS gave a cost of $995,000 for being retained by the TTPS as a coordinator/consultant for the Cup.

The breakdown of the invoice was as follows:

* Scholarship Mobilisation fees—$100,000

* Administrative Staff salaries—$190,000

* Technical Staff salaries—$235,200

*Equipment, uniforms—$250,000

* Marketing and Promotions—$100,000

* Academy Grounds Rental, Maintenance and Security—$49,200

*Transportation ($70,800).

NLCB rejected $1m request

Speaking with the Sunday Express on May 31, NLCB chairman Eustace Nancis said the NLCB supported the 2019 Commissioner’s Cup but was unable to donate the requested $1 million.

“The first year it (Cup) came off, we sponsored an allocated sum. No, they (TTPS) did not get the million. We can only give what was our in-house limit. Additional approval for more money would have to come from the relevant authority (Ministry of Finance),” Nancis said.

The house limit at the time was $150,000.

Despite not getting the lion’s share of the requested sponsorship, by Memorandum dated July 1, 2019, addressed to Head, Finance of the TTPS under the subject, “Approval for Payment of Mobilisation: Football Factory Foundation”, Griffith signed and directed that the FFF be paid close to $.3 million.

“Please be advised that approval has been granted for the sum of two hundred and ninety-eight thousand,five hundred ($298,500) for the mobilisation of the Commissioner’s Cup. See attached outstanding invoice from Football Factory Foundation,” Griffith wrote.

Rush to upgrade football, hockey fields

Questions have also been raised about the free use of the two football fields and a hockey field at the Police Academy, St James Barracks, for training for the national team following Fenwick’s appointment as national coach.

Remedial works on these two fields began without funds being available. Quotes were obtained and orders placed for construction materials.

The TTPS borrowed cash from its Sports Club, promising to repay within a ten-month timeframe.

The Sports Club is funded by its membership (police officers) who make a monthly contribution via $20 salary deductions.

On February 26, 2021, United States-based company Henko Adhesives and Tools billed the TTPS Sports Club US$11,607.

On March 26, 2021, Superior Landscaping and General Contracting Co Ltd from Gasparillo billed the Sports Club $97,312.50.

A break-down of the cost includes:

*200 tonnes Guyana silica sand—$70,000 (per ten tonnes)

*Transportation of silica sand (per ten-tonne load)—$15,000

*One rental of loader—$1,500


VAT: $10,812.50

Total: $97,312.50

Additionally on March, 31, 2021, Superior billed the Sports Club $136,687.50 as follows:

*9,000 sq metre—installation of shockpad—$40,500

*9,000 sq metre—installation of artificial turf—$45,000

*9,000 sq metre—to dress turf surface with silica sand and brush into turf fibre as recommended by supplier (14kg per square metre)—$36,000

*Duration of work: 2-3 weeks

Overall total with VAT—$136,687.50

Memo for funds

By memo dated February 25, 2021, the general secretary of the Sports Club, Insp Joshua Pierre, wrote to Griffith under the heading, “Hockey Field upgrade and Associated Costs.”

Pierre made reference to a letter written by Griffith dated February 8, 2021 requesting over $600,000 for this project.

Pierre responded, “The Management Committee of the Police Sports Club held its monthly meeting on Wednesday, February 24, 2021 via Zoom. Your request was introduced to the committee by the general secretary for debate and decision.”

After the committee was advised by the general secretary, a decision in principle was taken to contribute $342,000 towards the associated costs of the project with the following stipulation for discussion and final agreement.

“This money will be a loan from the Division and Branches Fund. 1. A Memorandum of Understanding for repayment of the loan granted.”

The money was loaned to the TTPS on two conditions—that the TTPS submit a signed statement that the monies loaned be reimbursed as soon as the Ministry of Sport released the funds, and due to the rushed request from Griffith, a commercial projection be presented showing how the monies can be reimbursed within ten months of the loan.

On March 5,2021, head of Planning Research and Project Implementation of the TTPS, Salisha Gomes Andrews, wrote to Pierre thanking him for the club’s financial support of $342,000.

Freeco for Fenwick

In the past, rent was paid for use of the TTPS football grounds.

In some cases, the rental fees were waived based on individuals or organisations seeking its use. Such decisions are made via the management committee.

However, use of the fields was free for the national squad under Fenwick. Previously, the T&T senior men’s team training sessions always took place at either the Couva-based Ato Boldon Stadium or Hasely Crawford Stadium. The no-cost arrangement was made by without the management committee’s involvement, the Express was told.

The management committee of the Sports Club was also told that the Ministry of Sport wished to partner in the sporting initiative and promised to provide financial assistance.

The Commissioner’s Cup

It was a sporting event touted as a tool in the fight against crime.

Titled the “Commissioner’s Cup Football Tournament”, the initiative was a collaborative effort of the TTPS through its Community Policing Unit, the T&T Football Association (TTFA) and the FFF.

Griffith described the aim then as being able to allow individuals from communities a chance to secure football scholarships overseas through the FFF.

At the March 19, 2019 launch, Griffith told the media, “Sports, especially football, can serve as a catalyst for creating stronger and closer communities and create a pool of talent for future TTPS football teams and, by extension, the nation.”

Griffith said, “This initiative will assist in minimising nefarious activities within communities, encourage self-development while encouraging greater discipline among players and fostering camaraderie among teams.”

A statement by the TTPS later that day indicated the Commissioner’s Cup would play an integral role in fostering national development given that players attached to 46 youth clubs across the country would participate in 75 matches which will culminate in one major final.

Among the top prizes listed was the opportunity to receive football scholarships in the United Kingdom through the FFF and the Most Valuable Player (MVP) of the finals would be afforded the opportunity to travel with the TTFA to an international friendly match abroad.

Fenwick, who was also present at the launch, said: “This is a tremendous opportunity to promote football as a method of community integration. The Football Factory Foundation will deliver all technical aspects of the programme and will oversee a finals weekend which we hope can take place in early 2021. This is a project that revolves around a commitment to young people on a local level who can channel their energies in a positive way.”

The FFF was selected to partner with the TTPS over 25 other football clubs in T&T.

Fenwick was appointed by the TTFA in December 2019 as head coach of the senior men’s national team.

SOURCE: T&T Express