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No comment! Wired868 addresses wall of silence on the TTFA’s new coach hunt

The Trinidad and Tobago Football Association’s board of directors are due to meet on Wednesday and, almost certainly, the National Senior Team coach will be selected then.

Maybe. The TTFA, as has been the norm under new president David John-Williams, remains as fiercely secretive as a cult with members petrified of speaking on the record for even the most mundane questions.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) president David John-Williams (second from left) welcomes new National Senior Team coach Tim Saintfiet (second from right) during a press conference at the Marriott Hotel on 7 December 2016. Looking on is new general secretary Justin Latapy-George (far left) and technical director Muhammad Isa. (Courtesy Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) president David John-Williams (second from left) welcomes new National Senior Team coach Tim Saintfiet (second from right) during a press conference at the Marriott Hotel on 7 December 2016.
Looking on is new general secretary Justin Latapy-George (far left) and technical director Muhammad Isa.
(Courtesy Wired868)

Today, TTFA general secretary Justin Latapy-George refused to say when the last board meeting was held.

“No comment at this time,” said Latapy-George.

“You do understand that you are effectively the CEO of the TTFA, according to the constitution?” asked Wired868.

“Yes,” he replied.

“And that we are not asking what happened in the meeting but just whether there was one?” asked Wired868.

“I do not have any comment to make at this point in time,” he replied.

There have been more bizarre responses in the past.

Joseph Taylor, the Trinidad and Tobago Football Referees Association’s board representative, and Dr Alvin Henderson, the vice-chairman of the technical committee, once said they could not say whether they attended a meeting. They were not authorised to say.

Photo: Pro League CEO and TTFA technical committee chairman Dexter Skeene (right) is in deep conversation with former Trinidad and Tobago standout Ron La Forest at the inaugural Wired868 Football Festival in 2013. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/ Wired868)
Photo: Pro League CEO and TTFA technical committee chairman Dexter Skeene (right) is in deep conversation with former Trinidad and Tobago standout Ron La Forest at the inaugural Wired868 Football Festival in 2013.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/ Wired868)

Technical committee chairman Dexter Skeene, who is also the Pro League CEO, once told Wired868 that only John-Williams was authorised to speak on technical matters. This was after Skeene admitted, in his capacity as chairman in a previous article, that the appointment of National Under-20 Team coach Brian Williams—who is a youth team coach for John-Williams’ W Connection team—was not done according to proper procedure.

Wired868 revealed that the football president had gagged his technical committee chairman, Skeene. In response, Skeene was released to talk on the subsequent occasion we contacted him.

This time, as the technical committee searches for a new National Senior Team head coach, Skeene found a third way. He has remained silent and answered neither phone call nor text messages in relation to his ongoing task.

In the past week, the TTFA technical committee altered its membership. Former National Senior Team coach Edgar Vidale, according to interviewed coaches, has been added while Pro League secretary Julia Baptiste was also involved.

Former World Youth Cup coach Bertille St Clair is out.

Photo: Coach Bertille St Clair (second from right) has a word with (from right) Shaka Hislop, Stern John, Michael Maurice, David Nakhid, Leslie Fitzpatrick and Clayton Ince during his stint with the Trinidad and Tobago National Senior team. (Copyright AFP 2015)
Photo: Coach Bertille St Clair (second from right) has a word with (from right) Shaka Hislop, Stern John, Michael Maurice, David Nakhid, Leslie Fitzpatrick and Clayton Ince during his stint with the Trinidad and Tobago National Senior team.
(Copyright AFP 2015)

St Clair informed Wired868 that he had not attended technical committee meetings for months due to health issues.

The Trinidad Guardian claimed that St Clair quit due to internal rumblings. Whether right or wrong, his departure might have never been an issue in the first place if someone from the FA had simply issued a statement on the change—as any normal, transparent company would have done.

The constitution says only the board of directors can appoint members on the various standing committees. So did the board appoint Vidale and Baptiste? Or did John-Williams or Skeene take it upon themselves to do so?

How many standing committees are active at present? Are they legitimately appointed? Does anyone follow the constitution at the TTFA?

Naturally, nobody is authorised to say.

There were a few strange things that occurred with the hiring of previous coach Tom Saintfiet.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) president David John-Williams enjoys himself at new head coach Tom Saintfiet's maiden training session at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain on 15 December 2016. (Courtesy Nicholas Williams/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) president David John-Williams enjoys himself at new head coach Tom Saintfiet’s maiden training session at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain on 15 December 2016.
(Courtesy Nicholas Williams/Wired868)

First, Saintfiet was not named among the initial coaches under consideration to replace Stephen Hart. So when did his name get to the technical committee? And who delivered it?

Second, the technical committee said it never spoke to the coaches then but simply handed over a shortlist to John-Williams who, in turn, forwarded only Saintfiet’s name to the board. He claimed the others were either too expensive or suddenly unavailable.

Nobody could confirm if John-Williams’ claim was true or not. Yet when Saintfiet, predictably, turned out to be a disaster, the TTFA president pointed the finger of blame at his technical committee and not himself.

Even now, as the technical committee seeks a third coach in two months, nobody from the football body has faced the public to answer questions on the Saintfiet farce.

Skeene and company are directly interviewing coaches this time, which is, arguably, an admission of a flaw in the last process.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago National Under-17 Team coach Russell Latapy (centre) reacts during 2017 World Cup qualifying action against Bermuda at the Ato Boldon Stadium on 18 September 2016. (Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago National Under-17 Team coach Russell Latapy (centre) reacts during 2017 World Cup qualifying action against Bermuda at the Ato Boldon Stadium on 18 September 2016.
(Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)

Yet, Wired868 understands that the technical committee was unable to conclusively tell interviewees the salary on offer or the duration of the contract on the table.

If so, what is the point of their week-long deliberations when the chosen coach still would not know if the conditions are right for him to take the job?

Will John-Williams again be allowed to negotiate with the candidates by himself? Does that not allow the TTFA president to rig the process by simply making insulting offers to any coach he does not want, until only his preferred choice remains?

And why would anyone trust in a process so lacking in basic transparency, especially after it led to Saintfiet last month?

So, by Thursday, Soca Warriors fans should know the coach entrusted with the responsibility of salvaging the Russia 2018 World Cup campaign.

Photo: Former Central FC coach Terry Fenwick gestures during his team's final Pro League contest. North East Stars coach Angus Eve is in the foreground. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: Former Central FC coach Terry Fenwick gestures during his team’s final Pro League contest.
Ex-North East Stars coach Angus Eve is in the foreground.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

God alone knows how the football body intends to choose between Stuart Charles-Fevrier, Terry Fenwick, Russell Latapy, Dennis Lawrence and Francisco Maturana.

But, of course, we intend to find out.

About Lasana Liburd

Lasana Liburd
Lasana Liburd is the CEO and Editor at Wired868.com and a journalist with over 20 years experience at several Trinidad and Tobago and international publications including Play the Game, World Soccer, UK Guardian and the Trinidad Express.

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55 comments

  1. We really considering Maturana again smh

  2. C’mon Lasana or anybody! Who is the new men’s coach ?!?! Trinidad too small to keep a secret ?

  3. http://www.times.co.sz/sports/111487-%E2%80%98madze%E2%80%99%2C-saintfiet-for-sihlangu-job.html

    Saintfeit eh miss us ah toll, man probably was applying while in Nicaragua

  4. Replace the entire board. Bunch of jokers. Done not making any World Cup.????

  5. T&T needs to give up on football………..waste of time footballers and administrators. Shithongs….all muscle no Brains. Stick to Small Goal like T&T cricketers who are winballers so all they could play is T20.. Stop wasting tax payers money. Doe talk bout Pro League……………Pro Shit.

  6. Get rid of that ruby Tuesday eatin pot bellied pig and dem ress ah mealy mouth lapdogs, beg back Hart an give him a raise, fund him and let him have full control and you’ll be surprise how things change rapidly 4 the better…..as 4 now it’s clown games galore….

    • Couldn’t agree more. Hart raised our standard of football but lost motivation with the new administration. Take into consideration 2015 gold cup we were in the same group as Mexico and we topped that group, unfortunately went out to Panama on Penalties. But where will we be next gold cup?

  7. We need a new TTFF president also… Not just a coach..

  8. I am still saying Terry Fenwick. He knows the local players and we need someone who is aggressive from the get go and not prepared to tolerate any crap from players

  9. THIS PRESENT SITUATION CALLS FOR SOMEONE WHO CAN COME IN FROM THE WORD GO AN GET US OFF TO A FINE START WE LOST TWO GAMES HOWEVER ONCE WE CAN GET THE RIGHT PERSON WE STILL IN WITH CHANCE HOWEVE THE INDIVIDUALS WHOM THERE NAMES ARE SHORT LISTED PERSONALLY DO NOT HAS WHAT IT TAKES AT THIS MOMENT.

  10. $5 say is Stuart Charles-Fevrier….

  11. Time for a LADY COACH,might encourage them fellas to stop PARTYING.

  12. I wonder if Maturana is fluent in English now. I hope DJW/ Technical committee makes a better choice this time/

  13. Earl Best

    “God alone knows how the football body intends to choose between Stuart Charles-Fevrier, Terry Fenwick, Russell Latapy, Dennis Lawrence and Francisco Maturana.

    But, of course, we intend to find out.”

    Since when did DJW become God? Everything you said before suggests that the president is calling all the shots. Wanna bet he knows how it’s all going to turn out?

  14. Well it seems that it is the professional league that is running the corrupted TTFA now, well except for Dr. Alvin Henderson. Them really good yes.

  15. I wonder what is the criteria for being selected to the Technical Committee? Are any of the current members truly qualified to be there?

  16. What is it about the TTFA that propagates this type of behaviour and produces persons such as Austin Jack Warner (AJW) and DJW? Despots followed by ankle holders….?

  17. Still have a little problem understand the hierarchy and reporting procedure …there is the Technical director,the Technicsl committee and a Technical advisor and then there are the coaches and assistant coaches , how does this work ?

  18. Is like de TTFA is de local branch of Scientology.

  19. Hope Terence William Fenwick gets the job and David blue eye boy Stuart

  20. We jamming still not so. Them really good yes hahahahaha

  21. The first rule of the TTFA is that there is no TTFA.

  22. Choosing the right coach
    Sunday, January 15 2017

    The search is on for a new head coach for the national football team once more.

    The football loving public of Trinidad and Tobago, eager to see its team on the world’s biggest stage, await the name of the man to be entrusted in getting us to Russia in 2018.

    We hope this time the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) will be a bit more meticulous and do its proper research before announcing its next hiring.

    The sudden resignation of Belgian Tom Saintfiet after barely over a month at the helm shocked the country but really should not come as such a great surprise given Saintfiet’s coaching history.

    In the last seven years, Saintfiet has incredibly coached 11 teams including this country. A journeyman throughout the African continent at places such as Namibia (2008-2010), Zimbabwe (2010), Shabab Al-Ordon (2010- 2011), Ethiopia (2011), Young Africans (2012), Yemen (2012- 2013), Malawi (2013), Free State Stars (2014) and Togo (2015- 2016), Saintfiet made quick stops in Bangladesh (2016) and Trinidad and Tobago (2016-2017).

    TTFA president David-John Williams, at Saintfiet’s unveiling in December last year, stated that the coach was affordable and perusing his resume we can clearly see why.

    We note with keen interest that the players have written a letter to the TTFA giving their suggestions as to who should be the next head coach. And while we do not condone employees telling their employers what to do, their action shows that the players have lost faith in the TTFA being able to make a rational and logical appointment.

    The theoretical separation of powers in the local football structure seems to have already been eroded with reports of coaches not being able to select the players they wish. Saintfiet, in a parting shot at the TTFA stated, “I never got the chance to work with the players nor staff requested”. This follows another report under former coach Stephen Hart about administrators meddling during training sessions. There was also a bust-up between team doctor Terrence Babwah and Hart with the former resigning amid claims that Hart played goalie Jan-Michael Williams against Honduras in a qualifier when he was deemed unfit. Hart has categorically denied playing an injured goalkeeper while Jan-Michael has also come to the defence of the ex-coach.

    The World Cup qualifiers resume in March and one month has already been lost due to the poor decision making of the TTFA in handing the reins to Saintfiet. Whoever is the new coach will have less than two months to meet his players and get them tactically ready to take on the likes of Panama (March 20) and Mexico (March 28) and jump-start the floundering 2018 campaign.

    Sports Minister Darryl Smith has gone on record telling this newspaper he hopes a local coach will be given the chance to lead the team. We concur with the Sports Minister given the short space of time available before qualifiers resume.

    Some of the names being bandied about include 2006 World Cup heroes Dennis Lawrence and Russell Latapy, England-born Terry Fenwick, W Connection coach Stuart Charles Fevrier and Colombian Francisco Maturana.

    We hope that the next coach will be given all the tools necessary to get the job done and more importantly be given the freedom to implement his ideas and conduct his work with the players. Although win less after two games, all is not lost but the TTFA needs to select the right man this time and show faith in him for the foreseeable future.

    With the news that FIFA will expand the World Cup to facilitate 48 teams from 2026, planning starts from now. http://www.newsday.co.tt/editorial/0,238451.html

  23. Imagine what the spirit of this organisation will be like in four or five years…

    • How do you compare Fevrier and Fenwick?

    • With the right players, Fevrier’s teams are attractive and very difficult to beat. He is a good coach.
      I think Terry has more variety to his approach and can do more with less though. Is more multi dimensional.
      Both are significant upgrades on Saintfiet in my opinion. I respect both. But for me, think Terry is better for this job.

    • What do you think of this Lasana Liburd? Could it be that the Soca Warriors may have been a bit overrated and we are seeing that now. We had an easy group in the Gold Cup 2015 and an easy group in the World Cup semifinal round. USA are not at their best and that is why we tied with them in 2015. Now they are in last place. Some of the other games in 2015 that we like to discuss were just meaningless friendlies. What are your thoughts?

    • Overrated by who? That is subjective and depends on the expectations of the person who feels that way.
      USA got out of a tough group at the last World Cup and were semifinalists at the copa America centenario just last year.
      For every million we spend on Trinidad and Tobago football, the US spends about 50 million.
      To me it is silly to say we only got a result because the US team is in trouble.
      We spend about 5 million TT dollars and have a population of under 2 million. The US spends over 100 million US dollars and has a population of over 300 million.
      If someone can find a reason not to be proud of a result against the US, they need to lighten up.

  24. So let us hope that the Members of the Technical Committee realise that if they do NOT step up they will again be SET up (to take the fall that is)

  25. It would not be a suprise they have already blundered.

  26. STEUPS. After. All. The. Shit. The. TTC’s. Did. Recently. By. Sacking. Hart. And. Replacing. Him. With. A. Ranking. Shithound. They. Shud. Be. Permanently. Quiet

  27. I would comment but I just received my gag order via text message

  28. . GOOD points by Fazeer. But I am left with what he denies – that this amounts to a plea for DJW to be given a bligh because “it eh hah nobody else”. Eh eh..

  29. Does this fear and secrecy probably set an expectation of more of the same, or worse? We shall see..

  30. It is Carnival Season, so yes we always put “football” on ice until after carnival then we pretend that it is the most important thing since slice bread……time to sack all the wanna bees in our country’s sporting community!!!

  31. Absolutely sad state of affairs.