Sun, May

Shannon Gomez #14 of Trinidad and Tobago celebrates a goal during the second half against the United States at Hasely Crawford Stadium on November 20, 2023 in Port of Spain, Trinidad And Tobago. (Photo by John Dorton/ISI Photos/USSF/Getty Images for USSF)

Two former national players hope that with better governance, everything else will fall into place for local football in 2024.

The progress of the Trinidad and Tobago men’s national team has given cause for optimism going into the new year, but Brian Williams and Brent Sancho also want to see a stronger domestic league; greater corporate and Government input into local football and most of all, a properly-run Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) after power is handed over, as expected, by the Normalisation Committee, which the world body FIFA appointed to run local football on March 17, 2020.

The recent growth of the national team has given both Sancho and Williams hope for continued growth in the coming year.

After being promoted, the Soca Warriors had an encouraging 2023 CONCACAF Nations League A campaign, reaching the quarter-finals for the first time, and bouncing back from a disappointing CONCACAF Gold Cup in mid-year where they suffered huge 4-1 and 6-0 defeats to Jamaica and the United States.

Coached by Angus eve, the former national midfielder, the Soca Warriors picked up a string of good results in the second half of 2023, preserved their Nations League A status for 2024, and also still have a chance to qualify for Conmebol Copa American via a playoff against Canada on March 23, 2024.

“We have had some terrific results. It’s really a credit to the coaching staff. The players, they deserve a lot, a lot of credit, because they have been tremendous,” stated Sancho yesterday. “I just hope they continue along that same line of playing for the badge, and playing for the country. I’m really, really proud of what they have been able to achieve in the last five or so games.”

Likewise, Williams has seen signs of positive growth within the national team, which won nine of 15 matches played in 2023; played unbeaten at home; also picked up competition victories over higher-ranked Curacao, El Salvador and United States and also, twice defeated Guatemala.

“I have to give kudos to Angus. He’s trying hard. I think Angus is doing a pretty decent job under the circumstances, of holding the national team together. It will be difficult for a man to say he’s not seeing a little growth.”

Williams added: “We know there will be a little challenge because of our resources, and who we have to choose from is still limited. But I am seeing some positive signs and improvement.”

Sancho recalled: “We had a disastrous Gold Cup. But we have been able to turn things around. You only good as your last game, but what they (Soca Warriors) have done so far, has been a good testament, and they deserve the credit.”

Following almost four years of governance by a FIFA-imposed Normalisation Committee, Trinidad and Tobago expect to have a new TTFA executive elected in early 2024 to run football. Following TTFA elections, Sancho is hoping for a change in leadership style.

“What will make the TTFA good after the Normalisation Committee (is gone) is good governance,” Sancho stated. “I’m hoping that whoever takes the helm is transparent and pays close attention to proper governance and puts the country first.”

Williams also wants to see the 12 or so entities comprising the TTFA functioning properly. He estimates that 50% of them are dormant.

“We need to put our house in place in terms of the TTFA which is the governing body,” he noted. “We are under watch of the Normalisation Committee, so we are still not running our own business. Our Football Association has to be in place to govern our affairs”

TTFA members have been given until the end of the year to consider amendments to the Constitution, in order for the new document to be approved in January, paving the way for elections.

Domestically, Williams wants to see competitively-run local national senior and youth leagues. He commented that the years when the national team has done well, have been the times when the domestic league has been well-run and competitive.”

“I will want us to have a proper structured league, where we can keep the level of interest high by having promotion and demotion,” he said. “I’ll also like to see a proper structured youth league where we can see a proper transition, with the major goal being the national team.”

He added: “We have to structure ourselves as we see in the bigger countries, where the league is run on time and games are played on time, according to fixtures.”

Both men also agreed on the need for greater financial input into football.

“In everything that we do today, the dollar is important. You have to have that to get players to take the game seriously these days. Your prize money or what you are offering, must be able to help,” said Williams.

And Sancho, a former club owner of Central FC, the former TT Pro League and Caribbean champions concluded: “In most clubs, players are paid below the minimum wage. That needs to be addressed.

I will hope to see more corporate buy-in.”

SOURCE: T&T Express