Wed, Jun

Trinidad and Tobago Women's Head Coach Kenwyne Jones

Is it one of the supreme paradoxes of human nature to demand accountability and transparency from everyone and everything, except yourself and matters in which you have a direct vested interest?

For all the celebration—relief more than exultation really—of Trinidad and Tobago’s last-gasp equaliser against Guyana last Tuesday night in Bacolet, we were witness to yet another disappointing undercurrent of resentment from a prominent personality when Kenwyne Jones responded to pointed questions from journalist Lasana Liburd in the aftermath of the 2-2 draw with Guyana, a result which allowed the national senior football team to stay on the qualification road for the next Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand next year.

Jones, the former national captain and striker and veteran of the historic 2006 World Cup finals appearance in Germany, seems to be heading in the right direction in his relatively new role as head coach of the women’s team because, at the end of it all, what really matters in this business is getting to the next round.

And he has done that, even though the final preliminary group game against the Guyanese, in which Lauryn Hutchinson stabbed home the vital equalising goal in stoppage time, was a scrappy affair which does not bode well for the CONCACAF tournament in July in Mexico where captain Karyn Forbes’ team will have to raise their game several notches if they are to get anywhere close to being one of the four World Cup representatives from the region.

So that gives Jones and company ten weeks to attend to weaknesses and determine whether it is a matter of fitness, a variation of tactics or a change of key personnel on the pitch. In the intervening period it would also serve the head coach well to appreciate that his role, especially in this intrusive multi-media and social media era, involves accounting to the public, the same public who turned up in significant numbers for two games against the Guyanese—the men’s fixture at the Hasely Crawford Stadium a couple weeks ago and the women’s duel in the sister isle.

Watching the recording of the post-game media conference on YouTube, it was obvious Jones took exception to his tactics being questioned by Liburd when asked to explain the positioning of Liana Hinds in midfield and what he hoped to get from her there.

“I think if you watched the game you wouldn’t have to ask that question about Liana Hinds,” said the coach, a response dripping in disdain for both the question and the questioner as if it was the laying of some kind of trap or the pursuit of some hidden agenda aimed at discrediting him.

All of which was completely unnecessary, for if a justification can’t be sought for some element of tactics on the field at a post-game media interaction, what is the point of a media conference if coaches and players aren’t going to be challenged about certain issues and only expect to field mundane public relations-type queries?

Then there was the focus on Asha James, whom Liburd described in a detailed report on the game on his website as “quite possibly the most gifted Trinidad and Tobago player in that playmaker role in any current national team—at least until Kevin Molino returns from injury.”

James was on the later of two flights back home from the 13-0 drubbing of the Turks and Caicos Islands the previous Saturday even though she didn’t feature in that one-sided encounter. There has been speculation as to the real reason why the talented player wasn’t on the earlier flight and it has apparently come to light that one of the players in Turks and Caicos didn’t return to Trinidad and Tobago at all.

So what was Jones’ response to the query? “I don’t think at this point who was on the flight is really of any concern,” he stated. “I think at this point what we are looking forward to is the next round.”

To the casual observer it may all come across as trivial. But if the issue is of no real consequence, then why the unwillingness to divulge any information and indeed take it a step further by inferring that it is really nobody’s business? Maybe he is an admirer of the communication style of the primary occupant at President’s House.

Look, the time has long past for us to grow up as a society and appreciate that real transparency and accountability are non-negotiables in matters of public interest. Whether it’s an evasive minister of government or a sporting personality who clearly takes exception to a particular line of questioning, the principle remains the same.

That is unless we are comfortable with being put in our place by haughty colonial vestiges like a Glorified Rubber Stamp.

SOURCE: T&T Express