The Trinidad and Tobago national football team’s players and staff are set for a merry holiday season as the Sport Ministry and the Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation (TTFF) are both set to reward the “Soca Warriors” for their efforts in a testing year.
National football team manager William Wallace informed Wired868 that he received cheques from the Sport Ministry for the players’ match fees for the 2012 Caribbean Cup finals last Friday and is due to collect outstanding money for the semi-final qualifying round tomorrow.
Some of the players collected cheques on Friday while the squad should receive full payment on Christmas Eve. Wallace hopes that this signals an improved relationship with the Sport Ministry, which should auger well for the Warriors in 2013.
“The team is a really nice bunch of young men and once we get the support that is promised I think we should do very well,” Wallace told Wired868.
Team captain Jan-Michael Williams praised the input of Sport Minister Anil Roberts in facilitating the payment of outstanding match fees, which was as much as US$2,000 (TT$12,700) in some cases.
“From what I understand the Sport Minister had an influential part in making sure everything was sorted,” said Williams. “He was really helpful.”
The TTFF has also announced its intention to financially reward the Warriors.
The national football team won US$75,000 for its second place finish at the regional tournament in Antigua. And recently appointed TTFF president Raymond Tim Kee promised that at least half of the winnings will go straight into a pool for the squad.
“The profession that I am in is sales,” said Tim Kee, a Guardian Life executive, “and we believe in properly compensating our workers for their services. I will go to the executive committee on this but, if it is up to me, they will get a lot more than 50 percent.”
The generosity of the administrators would be doubled by the players if Williams has his way.
The 28-year-old DIRECTV W Connection goalkeeper revealed that he discussed the best way to split the team’s earnings with vice-captain Densill Theobald and both men agreed to a deal which would inordinately benefit the team’s fringe players.
When Trinidad and Tobago got to the 2006 World Cup, the senior players divided the qualifying windfall according to games played. It meant that some players who did not make the final squad for the Germany-based tournament, like present North East Stars coach Angus Eve, were still among the best rewarded Warriors for their role in the effort.
However, Williams and Theobald want an even split between all the Warriors, which means that T&TEC FC attacker Sylvester Teesdale, who played in one preliminary round game and did not make the squad for the Caribbean Cup finals, would get the same pay-out as players who never missed a game like Williams and defenders Seon Power and Carlyle Mitchell.
“All the players who were involved will get the same amount,” said Williams. “We want to let everyone feel they contributed and that no one is more important than the team.
“We are trying to bring value back to the national team and that is the most important thing right now. We want players to know that when they are coming to the national team, they have to be on top of their game and mentally ready.”
The technical staff members are also set to benefit from the newfound stability that appears to be in the offering.
Technical director Anton Corneal had gone so long without receiving a salary that, in mid-2012 he was forced to start selling produce at the market. Corneal told Wired868 that his green thumb is only being used as a hobby now and football is again paying the bills.
“I haven’t gone to the market (to sell) for a while,” said Corneal, with a laugh. “But, seriously, what was a creative way to make some money has turned out to be a hobby for me now. The amount of bodi and pimentos I have grown now, I won’t know how to begin selling all of it…”
There are still no permanent contracts for the coaching staff though, which includes joint head coaches Hutson “Barber” Charles and Jamaal Shabazz and assistant coach Derek King.
Corneal said the TTFF hopes to secure a steady source of financial support from the private sector before new contracts are given out. But he is pleased with the initial showing from the joint coaches and even suggested that the “Football Partnership” might actually be a threesome.
“I was there and heard the football discussions about which players would work well together and team discipline and so on,” said Corneal. “It was refreshing to see the staff working together with positive dialogue and reason. I think we had mature coaches who put the country first in their decision making…
“We should really say it was tri-coaches because Derek (King) is very much part of the process too. If I wasn’t there, I might have said differently from the outside but it was very healthy…
“I don’t think co-coaching can ever be the norm because I can think of many coaches who would not accept it and that would be okay too. It takes special people to do it.”
Tim Kee and Corneal are expected to meet by the end of the year to review the present coaching set-up and discuss plans for 2013.
Editor’s Note: Let us know your thoughts on how Trinidad and Tobago’s football fared in 2012.