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T&T U-17 coaching interviews start today; rumoured interest from Latapy

Trinidad and Tobago’s Under-17 male footballers can finally expect to welcome a new coach in the coming days. The Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) looks set to begin interviews for the vacant post today and the new appointee, it is expected, will be named by the end of the week.

The “Young Soca Warriors” have been without a head coach since Ken Elie downed tools on 19 June—on Labour Day—after complaining that he felt disrespected by TTFA president David John-Williams and general secretary Azaad Khan.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago head coach Stephen Hart (far right) holds court with (from left) TTFA interim general secretary Azaad Khan, president David John-Williams, technical committee member Muhammad Isa and TTFA vice-president Ewing Davis in December 2015. (Courtesy TTFA Media)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago head coach Stephen Hart (far right) holds court with (from left) TTFA interim general secretary Azaad Khan, president David John-Williams, technical committee member Muhammad Isa and TTFA vice-president Ewing Davis in December 2015.
(Courtesy TTFA Media)

Elie complained that he asked John-Williams and Khan—in person and by email—for word about his financial compensation but was ignored. The veteran coach said he was subsequently asked to leave the team by Under-17 manager Alexandrine Elliot-Procope.

Wired868 could not reach Elliot-Procope for comment while TTFA technical director Muhammad Isa denied issuing orders for the Under-17 coach to be relieved of his duties.

At present, Isa is the only coach outside of the National Senior Team staff who is being paid by the local football body. His position also comes with a company car. But it is a far cry from what is offered to national youth coaches.

“As technical director I am being compensated, yes,” Isa told Wired868, in a previous interview, “but no other coaches are being paid at this point in time.”

Incidentally, the TTFA spent between TT$2,000 and TT$5,000—according to the pricing by  the Caribbean Jobs website—to advertise a handful of jobs, including Elie’s, last month.

Photo: Naparima College coach Angus Eve is rumoured to be in the running to replace Ken Elie as Trinidad and Tobago National Under-17 coach. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: Naparima College coach Angus Eve has denied applying to replace Ken Elie as Trinidad and Tobago National Under-17 coach.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

Wired868 was told that the pair of Gilbert Bateau and Angus Eve were among those who threw their hats in the ring. However, Eve, who led Naparima College to a sweep of Secondary Schools Football League (SSFL) titles last year, denied applying for the position and pointed to a possible inconsistency in the TTFA’s selection process.

“No, I didn’t [apply],” said Eve, who also coached at National Under-23 level as well as with Pro League teams North East Stars and Rangers. “I think my work speaks for itself so I shouldn’t have to apply. Did [current head coach] Brian Williams apply for the Under-20s?”

Bateau, who recently copped the Under-18 “Coach of the Year” award at the Flow Youth Pro League’s end of season function, served as an assistant to Zoran Vranes for the Under-23 Team’s disastrous 2016 Olympic campaign and has a brief stint as Rangers head coach once.

Another supposed interested party is former World Cup 2006 midfielder and local football legend Russell Latapy. Latapy worked as Trinidad and Tobago National Senior Team assistant coach and head coach between 2009 and 2011—with mixed success—while he also  professional experience in Europe where he operated as assistant boss at Falkirk (2009), Boavista (2013-14) and Inverness (2014-15) in Portugal and Scotland.

At present, Latapy is still owed by the TTFA for his last stint as senior coach.

Photo: Former Trinidad and Tobago and FC Porto star Russell "Little Magician" Latapy (centre) poses with a fan during the 2015 British Airways Tobago Legends Football Challenge community outreach programme at the St Mary's College ground in Serpentine Road, St Clair. (Courtesy Sinead Peters/Wired868)
Photo: Former Trinidad and Tobago and FC Porto star Russell “Little Magician” Latapy (centre) poses with a fan during the 2015 British Airways Tobago Legends Football Challenge community outreach programme at the St Mary’s College ground in Serpentine Road, St Clair.
(Courtesy Sinead Peters/Wired868)

The incoming coach won’t have things exactly easy as he tries to whip a team into shape with barely a month to go before the start of the CFU tournament on September 16. The Under-17s got a bye through to the CFU Championships and are yet to kick a ball in high-level competition for the last few months.

The team has been under the stewardship of the quartet of Duane Richardson, Philbert Charles and Kyle Small with Nigel Neverson as goalkeeper coach. Wired868 contacted Richardson for a comment but the interim coach declined, opting to reserve any remarks for a later date.

However, according to an insider close to the team, who spoke on condition of anonymity, things have been far from perfect since Elie’s departure.

Last weekend, the Under-17s won a four-team friendly tournament which also involved Moruga Soccer Academy, Carapichaima East Secondary and Fyzabad Secondary. But, according to the insider, there was literally a price to be paid.

“Just imagine this is the national team and each kid has to pay $50 out of his pocket to pay the maxi driver. People think that everything is going fine. But if you representing your country and you have to be dipping in your pocket, that is a no-no for me.

“I will say (the preparations have been) poor. The players have no respect for the coaches at present. Parents are in the dressing room while the team changing and that kinda thing and they have become like coaches.”

Photo: QRC playmaker John-Paul Rochford (left) keeps the ball from St Mary's College attacker Ethan Shim during 2015 SSFL action at Serpentine Road. Rochford is expected to be a key figure for the Trinidad and Tobago National Under-17 Team. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: QRC playmaker John-Paul Rochford (left) keeps the ball from St Mary’s College attacker Ethan Shim during 2015 SSFL action at Serpentine Road.
Rochford is expected to be a key figure for the Trinidad and Tobago National Under-17 Team.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

Apart from the lack of respect for the coaches, he claimed, the team physio is not often present. And the result is players are allegedly suffering injuries in sub-par warm-ups.

“Imagine, parents bring their kids from America to try out for the youth team and they were turned away by the coaches,” the source continued. “They weren’t given ample tryout times. One parent said he will not be bringing back his kid unless they get a proper coaching staff.”

Charles, Richardson and Small began work with the Under-17s prior to Elie’s appointment on 1 June 2015 and continued working throughout his tenure and after his departure.

According to Elie, the trio’s agreement with the TTFA was on a “voluntary” basis.

“Members of the technical staff offered their services voluntarily but I certainly was not one of them,” Elie had told Wired868 in an earlier interview.

Isa indicated to Wired868 that Richardson and Small had acquired Dutch ‘C’ Licenses previously and then last year completed their CONCACAF ‘D’ License Course alongside some household local football names. Charles also underwent training spearheaded by the Dutch, according to Isa.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago midfielder Levi Garcia (right) takes on a Costa Rican opponent during the 2013 Under-17 CONCACAF tournament. (Courtesy CONCACAF.com)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago midfielder Levi Garcia (right) takes on a Costa Rican opponent during the 2013 Under-17 CONCACAF tournament.
(Courtesy CONCACAF.com)

The ‘D’ license course is expected to introduce coaches to the basics of coaching young players in a player-centred environment, while the slightly more advanced ‘C’ course shows coaches how to manage a performance environment, plan and implement a training session with specific objectives and also demonstrate leadership.

The TTFA first struck up a partnership with the Royal Dutch Football Association (KNVB) in 2007 and the ‘C’ license courses have benefitted many aspiring coaches, including former national players.

But coaching licenses apart, Neverson, who was recently added to the technical staff, is the only member of staff with international experience, as he served as goalkeeping coach to several youth teams. Most recently, Neverson worked with the Under-23 team which failed to qualify for the Rio 2016 Olympics.

T&T are grouped with Haiti, the defending champions, Jamaica, the runners-up at the last CFU Under-17 tournament in 2014, and Bermuda. Haiti and Jamaica bulldozed their way through the qualifying round with 17 and 16 goals respectively, so the insider thinks T&T can be up against it.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago National Under-17 defender Tekay Hoyce (left) chases Cuba attacker Yosniel Gonzales during the 2015 CONCACAF Championship. (Courtesy MexSport/CONCACAF)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago National Under-17 defender Tekay Hoyce (left) chases Cuba attacker Yosniel Gonzales during the 2015 CONCACAF Championship.
(Courtesy MexSport/CONCACAF)

“It is very hurtful to see the present state of Trinidad football at youth level,” the source told Wired868. “At youth level, we are usually confident to come out of the Caribbean leg and it seems right now that, if we come out of this group, then God is a Trinidadian.”

Not all the dice are loaded against the local team, however, as five of the eight Caribbean teams participating in the final CFU leg will advance to the CONCACAF stage.

“We have a good crop of youths. But, with a month or so left to put things in place, we need proper guidance and an experienced coach coming in.

“Yes (the situation can improve) and I smile when I say that. But we have no proper, experienced coach who’s in place right now. Once the team gets an experienced coach, the Trinidad and Tobago team will do well.”

The national team, according to the insider, is desperate for a coach, after being left in limbo since Elie’s departure.

“We need betterment,” said the insider. “Because when Trinidad and Tobago playing out there, you and I playing too. I want them to make that decision fast.”

Photo: Shiva Boys HC substitute Judah Garcia (left) beats St Mary's College midfielder Daniel Conocchiari to the ball during 2015 SSFL action at Serpentine Road. Garcia is a member of the current Trinidad and Tobago National Under-17 Team. (Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)
Photo: Shiva Boys HC substitute Judah Garcia (left) beats St Mary’s College midfielder Daniel Conocchiari to the ball during 2015 SSFL action at Serpentine Road.
Garcia is a member of the current Trinidad and Tobago National Under-17 Team.
(Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)

Editor’s Note: The Trinidad and Tobago Women’s National Under-15 Team opened its CONCACAF Under-15 campaign today with a 22-0 loss to the United States in Orlando, Florida.

Two years ago, the T&T Women’s Under-15 Team finished third in the inaugural CONCACAF competition.

AboutR.Walcott

R.Walcott
Roneil Walcott is a Journalism and Public Relations student at COSTAATT and a freelancer at Wired868. Walcott is an avid sports fan and former Harvard Cricket Clinic member and ex-St. Mary’s College cricket player.

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68 comments

  1. Lasana Liburd tell me if you think I making sense. Why are we not using the Assistant Coaches of the Men Senior Team to coach the U20 and U17 this will mean we have consistency and continuity in what the senior team coach is teaching so when these youths are ready to move up they would have been taught the same philosophy. Also since they are the only ones being paid then no more money to come out the TTFA coffers which is being tightly guarded..

  2. ..I tell you again my intel is that he will be parked with the U17s ahead of replacing Stephen Hart..

  3. Russell Latapy was interviewed yesterday…

  4. I wonder when interviews for the Girls U15 going to start? Hmmm

  5. Would love to see Latapy in there as U17 coach. He’s seasoned enough to be able to impart some good technical knowledge on players that are still impressionable (probably barely though; we really need guys like Latapy at the grassroots level). He’d also come well qualified with his Uefa Pro License certification.

  6. Yeah more now than ever eh, because our Under 15 Soca Ladies got 22 goals from my second sweetest country eh, and that is very embarrassing eh, I didn’t know that our sweet country does play the American Football. Them really good yes. hahahaha

  7. Hahaha Dion Sosa u is a real fool yes!! Lol When the players understand the importance they will come around

  8. And I know that you will not be leaving us in the dark eh, because helping the players like the others that you have helped along the way to make it big on the real professional teams abroad is in your blood the same like Gordon Pierre and myself eh, so meh friend Dion Sosa stay tuned eh.

  9. the players association will consist of you and gordon and nobody else cause them players like them things nothing will change

  10. ..Correct. And Isa knows what that means as I replaced him after he qualified a U17 team for the CONCACAF finals in El Salvador and fell out of favour. Working at the TTFA as youth development officer at the time I pushed for MONTHS for the inactive team to be activated. I was directed to take it THREE WEEKS prior to the tournament. We lost 6:1 to the host, 6:3 to Mexico, and 6:2 to Canada. The 18 goals were all conceded in the last 30 minutes of each match as our team ran out of steam. Denzil Theobald and Christopher Durity were in that team. Isa knows the consequences of this shite..

  11. But Keith Look Loy, what about how this under-17 team was apparently allowed to just drift off course for the past two months?

  12. Uncle Earl Mango Pierre i ready time to right d ship

  13. And how many times I am going to read eh, that when the team have an experience Coach eh, the team is going to do well eh, and when our youth teams Coaches and teams competes against the real professional youth teams in these tournaments abroad eh, is ah set ah cut arse eh, and it is right back to the drawing board eh, and the main reason for this madness is always poor preparations and monies issues. Steeuppsss maybe it is time I really come on board as a Manager and show them how this is done in my second sweetest country eh, my nephew Gordon Pierre let’s really hurry up and get the Players Association up and running nah it really hurting my heart reading that our young players have to put out their own monies for transportation and other things eh. Them really good yes.

  14. Malik, under Tim Kee, the only people with job contracts were senior team head coach Stephen Hart and technical director Kendall Walkes.
    Everyone else had letters of appointment. That hasn’t changed so far.
    Apparently letters of appointment often don’t even have stipends written into them and they are given those figures verbally. I’m not sure though.

  15. Well there is no way the “Magician” Russell Laterpy is going to get the job eh, because once you sue the corrupted TTFA and take them to court for your well deserve monies eh, you immediately goes on their “Blacklist ” for life ent meh friend Wayne Mandeville. Them really good yes

  16. How have coaches historically gotten these jobs? The Brian Williams route or the interview route?

    Kids paying to be on national teams and represent the country is common place in other sports. And the contribution is 50-100 times more than $50. So welcome to our world football…

    22-0… Ouch! What was their preparation like?

    • Well, it opens the net to more than middle class and upper class families when talented youngsters don’t have to pay right?
      We all know the sports where it is almost impossible for a gifted athlete to reach world class level unless his parents can fund a round trip to a competition in India or UAE.
      The beauty of football is that it is different. Luis Suarez’s family was so poor that he quit school and was working a street cleaner at about 16. Now he is a millionaire. It could not have happened in cycling.

    • I hope I’ve completely missed your point.

    • I think you pointed out that kids often pay much more to represent their country in other sports. And I accept that is true.
      And I was saying that I’d prefer a system where talented kids didn’t have to pay at all other than with their time. Just a side note.

    • As for your main point, I think it is very rare that coaches have been interviewed to apply. Usually a committee sends forward a shortlist and one person is chosen by the TTFA general secretary/president. Usually, people knew who the coach was in advance.
      And, to be honest, I doubt this time is much different.
      If Latapy applied, I’m 99 percent sure he was told the job was his beforehand and he would already know his precise remuneration.
      Am I close on the process there Keith Look Loy?

    • ..I would say yes with the proviso that when I had the influence at the post-2006 TTFA we would develop said short list, interview candidates, and make a reccommendation. We could not appoint. To be fair, Jack Warner never interfered with that process. That’s how Even Pellerud and Otto Pfister got here. At youth level that led to appointments for Angus Eve, Shawn Cooper, Ross Russell, Richard Hood, and others. Jamaal Shabaaz will verify this..

    • So the problem with Brian Williams’ appointment was what exactly? That he wasn’t recommended by a committee and merely appointed by the president? (I may be misremembering)

    • Yes. There is a technical committee but one person Muhammad Isa turns up with one name, Brian Williams, and said he needs to be appoint straight away for time reasons

    • Remember the promise from DJW was that he would not interfere with the committees which was especially important as a club owner.
      He might argue he didn’t. And it was Isa. But Isa was just a floor member on the technical committee at the time.
      And a month later, Isa became technical director with a report of the scenario that got Brian Williams the job.
      It makes a Pappy show of the people on the technical committee.

    • ..Again, while I was there the appointed coaches had to submit period and competition reports to the technical committee and attend technical meetings as requested. I don’t know what obtains now but the technical committee was not even represented at the recent discussion on club licensing..

    • According to the coach they had a good preparation. One needs to find out what exactly is that.

  17. ..My intel is that once the TTFA accounts are accepted they will receive increased FIFA funding. Latapy would be affordable. Watch out Bro Hart?..

  18. Latapy going back dey to doh get pay again?

  19. ..They ARE! LOL. That doh change the price of beans..

  20. They need to sign binding contracts ….why are these guys not signing written contracts ??

  21. bacchanal again. just frustrating the youth of this country, but then you want them to in. We doing the same things over and over and getting the same result. David Rudder.Mad Man rant.whey we going, ST Ann’s, why we going cause we mad, mad, we changing Administrators and is the same story. I tired

  22. Tell them make sure they have money to pay the people before they hold interviews.

  23. ..Good luck to all! They will need it. Hope they succeed. Hope they get paid..

  24. Youth football in t&t hmmm
    What do i keep saying we don’t link anything for football to advance
    How long coach elie left these young men and they are still without a coach
    So if the coach had a family emergency and had to leave his position there was no plan b
    Steups
    U15 girls in the worst group ever but you know what tell me when training started for these girls?
    1year 6months 3months were they given the proper resources to feel confident about this u15 tournament
    The u15 girls who came 3rd cayman islands 2014 where are they now?
    Are we keeping them together and preparing them for the next step or are we waiting 2 weeks before a tournament to scrape up a team to represent t&t and expect miracles
    Fed up of the same thing over and over
    This is a crime against our talented youth
    Fed up 100 times over

    • Lasana Liburd

      That is an excellent point Vonetta. We have to move past this type of preparation sometime. But we keep getting empty promises and lip service.

  25. my son has come to Trinidad from the US several time to train with the U17 team . He link coach Eli. However, he said the players are good and will do well in the tournament. He is due back to training with the team early September for the final preparation ( I have paid for all his expensive for the 4 trips he made to Trinidad). I truly hope they get it together. I know of 2 other players who come from Canada in the same situation.