TTFA unveils “Little Magician” as U-17 head coach, Latapy and staff will be paid

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The Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) today unveiled Russell “Little Magician” Latapy as the new head coach of the Men’s National Under-17 Football Team at a press conference at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva.

The Little Magician, who mesmerized adoring Trinbagonians for the better part of two decades, is expected to sign a two-year contract with the TTFA and, perhaps more importantly, he and his technical staff will be paid.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago football icon Russell Latapy. (Copyright Daily Record)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago football icon Russell Latapy.
(Copyright Daily Record)

Latapy is still owed monies by the TTFA for stints he had with the senior men’s team as assistant coach and head coach between 2009 and 2011. But for now, it appears that Latapy and the TTFA are ready to chart a new way forward.

TTFA president, David John-Williams addressed Latapy and the media:

Russell, despite all you have been through with the TTFA, our discussions have been fruitful. I want to thank you again, not only for applying… you came out on top in the interview… [but also] you did accept the offer.

This new coaching staff will be paid. They are going to sign contracts and I am confident that the new coaching staff will be paid. This coaching staff is not an exception, this is a new dispensation.

According to John-Williams, the new Under-17 coaching staff will be the only national youth staff receiving payment. The two Under-20 coaches have been seconded from their jobs, he explained. The TTFA, short on funding got coaches Brian Williams and Kerry Jamieson from their Petrotrin and Defence Force jobs respectively.

KFC Munch Pack

Photo: TTFA president and W Connection founder David John-Williams.
Photo: TTFA president and W Connection founder David John-Williams.

Ironically, the erstwhile Under-17 coach, Ken Elie, previously told Wired868 that he had not seen a paycheck while he was at the helm of the young squad, and on 19 June he told his technical staff he would only return to training when he got some correspondence from the TTFA on his contractual situation.

Elie then claimed that he was relieved of his duties during a phone conversation with team manager Alexandrine Elliott-Procope the following month. However, today, John-Williams told the press that he has not yet seen any contractual document relating to Elie.

“We don’t have any particular arrangement with the previous administration as it relates to Ken Elie. I have seen no documentation or anything of the sort,” said John-Williams.

Wired868 asked the TTFA president if the former Under-17 coach was working voluntarily.

“Well, I will have to assume so. He said that he has a letter of appointment. I haven’t seen that, he hasn’t presented it to the TTFA and that’s what I have to move on,” said John-Williams.

Latapy’s technical staff includes former national player Reynold Carrington as an assistant coach, Nigel Neverson as goalkeeper coach and Otis Hislop as team physiotherapist. The duo of Kyle Small and Duane Richardson, both of whom acted as interim coaches in the absence of a head coach, will only be retained for the Caribbean Football Union (CFU) tournament which runs from 16 to 25 September.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago football icon Russell Latapy. (Copyright BBC)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago football icon Russell Latapy.
(Copyright BBC)

“The tournament is about a month away, I want to go on the public record to thank the staff that had been working with the team voluntarily for about a year now,” John-Williams said. “And it’s indeed an honour for me to thank you for the support you have given to the national programme.”

Latapy’s first official training session will be held at the Hasely Crawford Stadium on Monday, and the man who had a lively cameo in the twilight of his career at the FIFA 2006 World Cup is eager to impart his knowledge on the next generation of footballers.

“This is a perfect opportunity for the Association and myself in working with the younger players and passing on some of the tricks of the trade in professional football and international football that I’ve gained over the years,” said Latapy.

I had an opportunity to look at the players and it stresses the feeling that I have that we’ve always had very talented young players in this country. One of the problems we’ve had in the past is these young players [are not] getting guidance from an early age. I am here with the Association to try and provide the guidance and opportunity for some of these young players to move forward in football and have a career in football.

One of the youngsters hoping to soak up every iota of knowledge from Latapy is playmaker and Under-17 captain John-Paul Rochford, whose older brother Jean-Luc Rochford represented Trinidad and Tobago at two previous youth World Cups.

Photo: QRC attacker John-Paul Rochford (centre) takes a crack at goal during 2015 SSFL action against St Augustine Secondary. Rochford is expected to be a key member of the Trinidad and Tobago National Under-17 Team. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: QRC attacker John-Paul Rochford (centre) takes a crack at goal during 2015 SSFL action against St Augustine Secondary.
Rochford is expected to be a key member of the Trinidad and Tobago National Under-17 Team.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

The Under-17 team will not be the only group of youngsters benefitting from the Little Magician’s tricks. John-Williams explained that as a UEFA Pro Licence-holder Latapy  can also help develop coaching courses and the TTFA mean to make use of this in other youth programmes with a special interest in training at the  grassroots level.

“I just want to add that Russell will go beyond the Under-17 coach as we will have him as a staff coach in the youth program, so we can move along especially in the grassroots program,” said John-Williams. “He said he is also willing to undertake coaching courses within the schools and so on as part of the initiative of the TTFA because we know Russell has a UEFA Pro Licence.”

Latapy’s appointment as a staff coach in the youth program means that he would be able to transition to other youth teams after the impending Under-17 campaign, if the TTFA so desires.

“We have now settled down as an administration in terms of the football side of what we want to do with the development program,” said the TTFA president. “And I’m sure Russell, and the technical director and technical committee and of course coach Hart will be able to chart the way forward for Trinidad and Tobago football.”

The TTFA also supposedly found its way back in FIFA’s good books, as John-Williams disclosed that FIFA will resume its Financial Assistance Programme (FAP) funding to the local football body after the subvention was frozen under the Raymond Tim Kee-led TTFA administration last year.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) president David John-Williams and new FIFA president Gianni Infantino at the TTFA headquarters on 27 January 2016. Infantino was the UEFA general secretary at the time. (Courtesy TTFA Media)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) president David John-Williams and new FIFA president Gianni Infantino at the TTFA headquarters on 27 January 2016.
Infantino was the UEFA general secretary at the time.
(Courtesy TTFA Media)

John-Williams feels the TTFA is heading in the right direction. “We have just been recently passed with our members for our financial statements for 2014 and 2015. And, might I add, audited financial statements.”

Young John-Paul Rochford is enthusiastic about his coach and takes his responsibilities seriously:

I myself am very excited to work with him because when I was younger I would hear his name all over the news, radio, I admired him as a player. He played on the national senior team at our age and I myself would love to have that experience… Yes, there is a lot of pressure because I am the one the coaches chose to lead the team into the tournament.

The full Men’s Under-17 technical staff is as follows: Russell Latapy (Head Coach), Reynold Carrington (Assistant Coach), Kyle Small (Assistant Coach), Duane Richardson (Assistant Coach), Nigel Neverson (Goalkeeper Coach), Otis Hislop (Physiotherapist), Alexandrine Elliott-Procope (Manager), Devin Elcock (Equipment Manager).

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About Roneil Walcott

Roneil Walcott
Roneil Walcott is an avid sports fan and freelance reporter with a BA in Mass Communication from COSTAATT. Roneil is a former Harvard and St Mary's College cricketer who once had lofty aspirations of bringing joy to sport fans with the West Indies team. Now, his mission is to keep them on the edge of their seats with sharp commentary from off the playing field.

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  1. Warning: Undefined variable $userid in /www/wired868_759/public/wp-content/plugins/user-photo/user-photo.php on line 114

    I have faith that Russell Latapy will make a difference ⚽️ show us what you have!??

  2. Looking forward to this……and the other youths too as in in write……

  3. I know Latas loves his country but a second go at working for the ttfa?

  4. Good move.

    Let’s just hope he doesn’t have to be begging them for his salary as before.

  5. Sean Powder

    It’s encouraging that the TTFA has hired a highly credential coach and excellent former player for the U17s.

    However, the messaging and communication has been complicated with talk of grass roots, work with other national teams, youth development, what sounds like technical director duties etc., etc.

    The TTFA should simply state the little magician is the Head Coach of the U17, we/he will need all his playing and coaching bag of magic tricks to beat Haiti, Bermuda and Jamaica because we gave him 25 days to prepare, planning and implement. Let’s all get on board to make this a success for the boys.

    All the other messages complicates, obfuscates and deviates from the immediate very short term need to get a minimum of 5 points from 3 matches to hopefully qualify for Concacaf.

    Seems like TTFA enjoys communicating/acting in a manner to grow WIRED868 readership and discussion…lol

  6. Gordo this is hardball and in hardball men does stone stop begging men to be positive and bat if yu batting nah man. Look I went and spend a week with Lendl Simmons learning to bat . Shucks man

  7. Lasana is not enough international games Vijay now say the national senior team not getting dey? I dunno if the audio need adjusting

  8. Vijai Ramsawak we had a fully paid tour to Uruguay and China funded privately all players and coaches were pay step in d right direction?? We had a fourth game that we refused step in d right direction? We have signed a former icon on a paid contract for two to help with development step in d right direction? We have gotten audited financial statements and so d return of funding from FIFA step in d right direction? The women senior team got more international games than they could handle step in d right direction? Let’s b positive please

  9. After what Jack Warner did…not a single company wants to pump money in T&T Football again…and the present TTFA not helping themselves by publishing regular financial audits…so if TTFA believe that Govt funding will see us get anywhere…well…TTFA doesnt even disclose how much money they get from FIFA…so the $$$ issue with T&T Football isnt going away anytime soon…

  10. dey have money for staff and for International games??? or we jus hire a coach and no games as usual…the senior Team not even getting International games…so I guess T&T really serious about football…

  11. Dinosaurs in the modern world ….but we must still show respect for their contribution ,but it’s time to move on and opennthenway for youthn

  12. It seems that some folks cannot understand the English language eh, the Magician was hired for youth development eh, after the U 17’s eh, and when that is concluded eh, he will then move on to the other youth programs upcoming tournaments, he isn’t here to take my foreign base Trini Coach Hart job eh, and he being now in charge eh, there will be no more recycling of some of those bootleg Coaches eh and furthermore more eventually he might just be the Technical Director because it’s time for meh friend Isa Muhammed to retire eh.. Them really good yes.

  13. These conspiracy theories nauseating man.
    So lemme try to understand this, Russell is hired as the U17 coach on a 2 yr contract.
    But if the U17s dont advance past the CFU qualifiers next month he will be slipped in as a replacement for S Hart who has had good results.
    Well here is another, Russell will be used as the U15s who will be preparing for the 2019 U17s.

  14. So Darren you want to paralyse appointments . Some fears you have to live with star . I fear Dr. Rowley is not as healthy as he preaches. …and ?

  15. Woww!
    So we have a senior team coach who has gotten good results in the WC campaign and we alleging that he will be replaced by a or coaches with miniscule wc experience.

  16. Jamal I fear that coach hart will be undermined and Stuart charles will replace him. If not Stuart it will be latas

  17. Is it that we are so sure that Latapy is here as a replacement for Stephen Hart ? Can it be that given what this Icon who has now become fully qualified be sincerely to help youth development at every level in the country as a coach ? The Technical Director develops the program what prevents the TTFA from using the Little Magician to excite the youths ? Thank God none of us has a crystal ball and the conspiracy theory put forward about his appointment could be the product of a mind set in its thinking against a President whom they see as set in his way.
    Also are we saying now the previous theory that Stuart Charles will soon replace Hart is out the door ?
    Also if Dennis Lawrence is hired in a similar capacity as Latapy I would love to see the views. Just my take for critique.

  18. And there starts a learning process about how one values oneself and his or her worth in the profession.

  19. If I was the coach of any other national youth team, I would know exactly what the TTFA thinks of my value. Zero.

  20. All the kudos and congratulations come in at this time. I’m waiting to read the news on the u17 team 8 months down the road…

  21. Well I will be waiting very patiently for that to happen eh, because in our sweet country every man is about themselves eh, and it is like the same thing when our 2006 Soca Warriors eh, sued my corrupted uncle Jack Warner and his cronies for their well deserved millions of monies eh, and the ex- corrupted Minister of Sports and his cronies didn’t make certain that some of our players like Angus Eve, Leslie Fitzpatrick, and a few others also receive some kind of monies the same eh. Them really good yes.

  22. Happy to see Latas coaching the kids. However I have no idea why local coaches would even attempt to volunteer their services… the TTFA continue to treat them with a total lack of respect.

  23. Glad to see him back….hope his coaching this time around is successful…..

  24. At last it seems that one association thinking future

  25. Not really Chabeth Haynes. It shows he intends to be under the TTFA’s employ for some time. And remember even if the Under-17 team goes all the way to the World Cup, his job will only be for a year there at the most.

    • The contract doesn’t specify U17?

    • The under-17 team will not be around in two years. It could quite feasibly be disbanded in less than two months if the team loses.
      The important thing is that the TTFA wants him for two years and that he wants to be here for two years.

    • Because there’s no U17 tournament means there’s no U17 squad? Can’t have kids in training even if there’s no tournament? That’s a problem eh…
      But if there are other moves afoot, it’s some TTGFesque twists and turns once again.

    • No national team trains constantly. Nowhere in the world. The next under-17 team will play its first game in 2018. The TTFA must have a lot of money if it will pay an entire technical staff to do practically not for over a year.

    • When Roman Abramovich was paying the salary of the Russian head coach, Gus Hiddink, it meant that when he sacked the Chelsea boss, Hiddink was obliged to fill in as caretaker until he hired someone else.
      And that’s what happened. It happened in T&T many times before. Ian Porterfield was signed as Joe Public coach when the TTFA was preparing to fire the national coach. Zoran Vranes too.
      It isn’t unusual in football. You’re just lining your ducks up.
      In European football, when the club hires a coach as a “technical director” or whatever, you know exactly what that means as the sitting head coach.

    • I didn’t mean literally constantly.
      But even if this current team is disbanded in two months, I’d think a U17 technical staff would be scouting talent during SSFL, having training camps and the like…
      Every member of the staff signed a two year contract or just Latapy?

    • Two years to scout talent? To scout 14 year olds with the hope that they are in the same form two years later as 16 year olds?
      I don’t follow.

    • If Russell Latapy is still National Under-17 coach in 2018, Chabeth Haynes, you can start calling me young Jack Warner. Surely that makes no sense.

    • Yeah. Scout and develop talent.
      Not hope they’re in the same form. Guide them to better form.
      That doesn’t happen?
      Have them playing with each other frequently enough so that they grow up knowing each other.
      Not get them into training three months before a tournament and just “try their best”.

    • Well how do you all develop talent in football?

    • Two years really doesn’t seem like a long time to me to be trying to develop talent at all.

    • The national team does not develop talent. And having a national team in constant training doesn’t work at any level. Tried that before.
      Their clubs and schools will develop talent. And the national coach selects the players who are in the right condition and grooms them and gets them the right experience as we near the competition.
      Sure it is possible that he will go around on a weekly basis gathering 14 year old players and giving them experience and drilling them in his system. He would need to cast a wide net so as not to exclude the potential late bloomers.
      Tell me honestly Chabeth, do you believe that is the TTFA’s master plan?

    • Like I said. Let’s make a bet and we will see who is right.

    • I really don’t know what the TTFA’s master plan is but I can’t imagine that you’d disagree with me too vehemently that the current development paradigm isn’t producing the desired results.
      But I don’t think we have the same definition of “constant training.”
      As for the bet, still waiting on my drink from the last one…
      So settle up that debt first before you find yourself seeing even deeper red. Lol. ?
      (Just joking, just joking)

    • The best way is to broaden the base of talent. And that’s the job of the technical director and not the youth head coach.
      It is specifically in Isa’s contract to do so. In fact, the story suggests that Latapy will help with “grassroots coaching” which again falls squarely under Isa’s portfolio.
      So if he doesn’t take Hart’s job then Isa may have to watch over his shoulder. But Latapy has nothing productive to do for two years as youth coach.
      Whatever the TTFA has in mind, it isn’t that.

    • Who is responsible for deciding what style of football a country plays?
      Like the Brazilians play a certain style of football, the Germans, the Chileans etc etc.
      Who determines what that style is and at what age are footballers taught to play that style? Does it all just happen at the senior team level?

    • No. It is the job of the technical director. The technical director is the supervisor of every national team outside of the senior team. But he is expected to consult with the senior team coach.
      The TD has more far reaching powers than the senior coach. Although the job of the senior coach is more glamorous. And he is in charge of the “flagship team”.

    • Not all national teams have a common style throughout its squads. Usually they play based on the capabilities of their players.

    • Ok.
      I predictably have more questions (?) but I’ll keep you here forever with them… So I’ll ease yuh up. Night.

    • LasanaLiburd two questions from following this conversation. If a style of football does not “work” or is unsuccessful being played, can the t.d. change the style? Even if it were to train another team alongside the current team playing the current style? Two- Is it safe to say (we both know the answer) that more emphasis and investment should go into scouting/school programs molding and nurturing our athletes because as it is we have many but not enough is being done to train, promote and prepare them for the world’s stage?

    • Well, our issues aren’t down to style. We haven’t reached there yet. We are still working on more basic things like technique, fitness and tactical awareness.
      But, yes, the Technical Director would be largely responsible for implementing that.
      And the preparation of players isn’t the job of the national team alone. Keith Look Loy spoke already about what worked in Panama which was a nationwide coach certification plan that lifted the game in a much more comprehensive manner.

    • Again i ask what is latapy’s claim to fame as a head coach ?????

    • Trini Don he is the youth team head coach. He has worked professionally as a coach and has worked with some top coaches before on an international stage.
      I think he is practically overqualified for that job to be honest.

    • Lasana Liburd you did not answer the question !!!! What throphies he won as a head coach ????, what teams he led to promotion ????? Working with a top coach and having results as a head coach is 2 completely different things

    • He has no real accomplishments as a head coach as far as I can remember. Everyone starts from somewhere though.
      I think he deserves a shot.
      I’m obviously NOT referring to him as a candidate for the head coaching job at present.

    • He has non, nada, zilch….thank you Lasana Liburd….but he started as Nat’l men coach…..when he should have started off as a youth coach first/ assistant coach to an experience coach first….reminds me of Marodonna as a coach sad yes ??

  26. Well a two year contract suggests that he won’t be taking over from Hart before 2018.

  27. I hope this doesn’t turn out like the rest of times TTFA gives a local a job contract or not and doesn’t hold up their end as we all have seen time and time again.

  28. I don’t know if to be happy or sad.

  29. Wait wait wait…

    So coaches WEREN’T getting paid?!

  30. Sigh, Congrats Lil Magician. lets hope this isn’t a political move, but non the less Congrats again, at least he has his country at heart, and i do hope , this will be the start of Other Coaches Getting paid also etc etc..

  31. Latapy I don’t want to hear you complain 2 years later that you never got paid, or you got paid for the first 5 months then nothing after. I’ll screen shot this comment.

  32. If this is the start of a holistic sport programme, good.

  33. Ah man have to know his worth. If others were worthy of just a thank you and a high five then that all they would have received

  34. This is disgraceful lisana ,total garbage on the basis of principle fairness ethics and morality ,Coaches in Trinidad need to learn professional ethics for their fellow tradesmen ,How can I take a job when the guy who served before me was never paid his dues ,Russel I applaud you ,but I hope you make them know that Ken Ellie must be paid his dues as a matter of principle ,else what you allow would be your misfortune off and on the pitch ,you were once there my brother

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