The Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) got clever yesterday as it announced a “marriage” with Clever Outdoor Advertising Ltd at its press conference at the Hasely Crawford Stadium’s VIP Lounge in Port of Spain.
It was a familiar tale, though, as the local football body gave a tongue lashing to corporate Trinidad and Tobago for its tardiness in funding the national football teams.
As the heavens opened up above the Hasely Crawford Stadium, National Teams operations manager William Wallace brought a storm of his own as he chastened the private sector for not supporting the “Soca Warriors” when they needed it most.
Wallace highlighted the Warriors’ struggles before the July 2015 Gold Cup tournament, in which Trinidad and Tobago advanced to the quarterfinal round for the second successive tournament.
“When you don’t have financing it affects every single thing,” said Wallace. “The TTFA has been reaching out to corporate T&T but the responses have been slow if not dead.
“We cannot wait for teams to do well until we come on board.”
The day’s proceedings did not start as promptly either although co-hosts Vidia Ramphal and TTFA media officer Shaun Fuentes got straight into “an interactive segment” with football president Raymond Tim Kee and Clever Advertising CEO Andres Cardenas.
There was no ‘question and answer’ segment for the media personnel in attendance as Tim Kee fielded questions from his own employee and hired host instead.
Cardenas told Ramphal and Fuentes the reason that Clever Advertising came on board.
“After seeing what this team did in the last Gold Cup, I have no choice but to back the Soca Warriors all the way,” said Cardenas. “We are looking for the support of everyone in T&T because when the footballers feel supported that’s when they will play like warriors.”
Cardenas said his company’s main goal is to take the Soca Warriors brand closer to the doorsteps of persons throughout the country, including the rural districts.
“Imagine a kid walking out on a football field and seeing the banner ‘Being a Warrior begins here’,” said Cardenas. “That will create a very good feeling and will give them the belief that they too can be a (Soca) Warrior some day.”
Apart from Clever Advertising, who should start selling TTFA merchandise within three weeks, the TTFA also recognized sponsorship deals with Blue Waters and Lifestyle Motors.
Neither the TTFA nor any of its sponsors revealed the financial terms of any contracts.
Tim Kee was happy to declare that the ‘Being a Warrior begins here’ campaign had already begun with the TTFA’s ongoing grassroots program, in which technical director Kendall Walkes and coach Muhammad Isa teach the basics of the game to youngsters from all over the country for one hour per week.
However, the shining example of the Warriors’ value was delivered at the 2015 Gold Cup and Wallace praised the team for turning adversity into positivity.
He pointed out that the understaffed National Senior Team was locking horns with financial powerhouses like Mexico and the United States, who, he claimed, receive in excess of US $100 million per year.
“We have to feel proud when a team can go out and compete despite all these things,” said Wallace.
Warriors custodian Jan-Michael Williams was in a less combative mood as he reminisced on their past two Gold Cups under current head coach Stephen Hart. The Central FC captain suggested that Hart could take National Senior Team to the next level.
“I consider him a perfectionist because he leaves no stone unturned,” said Williams. “He gets into the psyche of the players because he knows our culture so well. And that is what sets him apart from previous coaches.”
Williams said that he is excited about the upcoming Russia 2018 World Cup campaign and joked that he has no problem playing the United States, once it doesn’t fall on the infamous November 19 date.
The Warriors will instead do battle with the US two days before at the Hasely Crawford Stadium.