Thu, Feb

Coach Richard Hood talks to players during the TTFA Girls Under-17 Screening session at St Mary’s College, Grounds, St Clair in December 2019. PHOTO BY: Anthony Harris

A sell-out by the Selection Committee of Jinelle James- Director of Women's Football, Dion La Foucade- Technical Director, James Thomas- National Women's Team coach and Richard Chinapoo- a former national player, is how some enraged former players and current local coaches have described the announcement of Welshman Charlie Mitchell as the new assistant coach to the T&T women's team.

Almost two months after an agreement was reached between the Unified Football Coaches Association (UFCA) and the Robert Hadad-led FIFA-appointed Normalisation Committee to appoint an all-local staff to assist Thomas, comes the unpredictable recruitment of Mitchell, who will only be available for Senior Women’s National Team camps and competitions.

He fills the official position of assistant coach and performance analyst and will make his services available to the country's senior men's team when needed.

Mitchell, a British-born coach and compatriot Thomas, together with the newly appointed Goalkeeping coach James Baird, a Scottish-born, who have played professionally in T&T Pro League with Tobago United, North East Stars and Central FC, from 2007 to 2016 as a goalkeeper, are the three foreign coaches hired.

British-born Joanne Daniel is the new team manager, while Terry Johnson-Jeremiah (Equipment Manager), Atiba Downes (Strength and Conditioning Coach) and Aqilya Gomez (Rehab Specialist) are the local appointments.

Mitchell's appointment has sparked rage and disappointment among the football fraternity, many of whom accused the selection committee of sell out. A high-ranking Women's Football League administrator who spoke to Guardian Media Sports on the condition of anonymity said: "If they wanted to select Richard Hood and Dernelle Mascall for the positions of assistant coaches, as they did before, then they would have done so. They couldn't have been influenced by the normalisation committee members because they are the ones with the football knowledge.

And furthermore, they could not have been influenced by the national coach because he too, does not know anything about the local coaches."

In an effort to find out why the decision was changed from the original agreement to appoint an all-local technical staff to support coach Thomas, Guardian Media Sports reached out to Foucade, who said that our questions need to be directed to the T&T Football Association (TTFA) media officer, while efforts to contact James (Jinelle) on the same issue also proved futile.

Guardian Media Sports also reached out to normalisation committee member Nicholas Gomez via a WhatsApp message on the matter. He read it but did not respond.

Hood, a former Tranquility Secondary School InterCol goalkeeper, who saw himself as the front-runner for the position of assistant coach, said he was not taken by surprise because when he did not get a call or a message for more than a month from the Committee after being interviewed, he decided to prepare for the worst.

Hood, who took the country's Under-20 Women's team to the quarterfinals of the 2020 CONCACAF U-20 Women's Championships in the Dominican Republic, was two months ago was appointed as the assistant coach to Thomas. However, his appointment sparked controversy because of a lack of transparency in the selection process.

The Police FC coach issued a release on Thursday regarding the recent development. It stated: "I view this as a slap in the face of all local coaches in general and in particular, those that have been working in the said program tirelessly for years without remuneration. Coaches like Marlon Charles, Rajesh Latchoo, Jason Spence, Glennon Foncette, Chris Bailey and myself, to name a few. I have worked in this programme since 2008. I was Assistant coach of the 2010 U17 team that competed in the World Cup in T&T. That team holds the distinction of being the only team from this country to win a game at any World Cup tournament. I led the senior women’s team to a runner up position in the CFU Olympic Qualifiers in 2011, which was the greatest disappointment of my coaching career so far. I was in charge of the team that competed in the Pan American games the said year, were most noteworthy, we drew with the mighty Mexico 1-1.

Local coaches have worked assiduously to improve the standard of play with extremely limited resources and we have foolishly accepted it because of the love of the country and the players. There was never money when a local coach was at the helm. I await the public outcry and to hear what our Coaches Association has to offer regarding this situation if anything."

Meanwhile, Jefferson George, the interim president of the UFCA told Guardian Media Sports that he could not explain why there was a change to include foreign coaches in the recruitment process, noting further that there are too many unanswered questions.

George said news of the new assistant coach, was followed by promises by many local coaches to never again consider accepting jobs to coach in T&T. much less apply for a job.

He said that what is also baffling is the fact that Mitchell appears to be less qualified and experienced than most of our local coaches. However, information reaching Guardian Media Limited shows that Mitchell is the holder of UEFA's A and B Licenses, he holds an MSc and BSc in Sports Coaching, and an Advanced Diploma in Leadership and Management (level 7).

SOURCE: T&T Guardian