Home / Volley / Global Football / Why the TTFA’s self-serving, classless behaviour remains the Warriors’ biggest hurdle 

Why the TTFA’s self-serving, classless behaviour remains the Warriors’ biggest hurdle 

One of the most memorable incidents of Dennis Lawrence’s debut as a head coach for the Trinidad and Tobago National Senior Team came before kick off against Barbados at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva on Friday 10 March 2017.

As Lawrence prepared to make his international bow at the helm, the 22 players and match officials were greeted by the SPORTT Company duo of CEO Adam Montserin and facilities manager Anthony Blake and Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) vice-president Ewing Davis for the customary pre-match handshakes.

Photo: SPORTT CEO Adam Montserin (centre) greets players and officials before kick off between Trinidad and Tobago and Barbados at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva on 10 March 2017. TTFA vice-president Ewing Davis (right) broke away from the customary pre-game ritual to take a phone call. (Copyright CAI Images/Wired868)
Photo: SPORTT CEO Adam Montserin (centre) greets players and officials before kick off between Trinidad and Tobago and Barbados at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva on 10 March 2017.
TTFA vice-president Ewing Davis (right) broke away from the customary pre-game ritual to take a phone call.
(Copyright CAI Images/Wired868)

And then, in an extraordinary show of disrespect and unprofessionalism, Davis, who is also the Soca Warriors’ head of delegation, took his mobile phone from his pocket and began to carry on a conversation. In so doing, the football official—who wore a blue Nike tee-shirt while his country plays in red Joma kit—walked past half of the Barbados contingent and the Trinidad and Tobago players without so much as a nod.

In many ways, Davis’ action encapsulated the behaviour of the local football body under current president David John-Williams: self-absorbed, classless and disrespectful.

Just ask the National Futsal Team players who were asked to leave their hotel in Costa Rica last year—with no alternative arrangement in place—because the TTFA booked their stay for a day short. And this was after the players were offered a per diem of US$20 with no match fee for representing their country, which was deemed so derisory that two players refused to touch it.

Ask former National Under-17 coach Ken Elie, whose emailed requests for information—not money, just information—regarding a promised stipend from the football body were met with silence by John-Williams. And once Elie was sufficiently frustrated so as to skip work altogether, the TTFA then used his absence as an excuse to hire Russell Latapy on a substantial salary.

Former Soca Warriors coach Stephen Hart can tell a story or two as well about a football body that refused to give him the equipment or staff members he needed, virtually damaged his working environment through its interaction with his players and then effectively sacked him at Ruby Tuesdays.

Photo: Former Trinidad and Tobago National Senior Team head coach Stephen Hart (left) and Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) president David John-Williams enjoy each other's company during a press conference at the Hyatt Regency hotel in Port of Spain on 19 May 2016. (Courtesy Wired868)
Photo: Former Trinidad and Tobago National Senior Team head coach Stephen Hart (left) and Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) president David John-Williams enjoy each other’s company during a press conference at the Hyatt Regency hotel in Port of Spain on 19 May 2016.
(Courtesy Wired868)

Quite a reward for the only coach to take Trinidad and Tobago to two Gold Cup quarterfinals, the first to lead the Warriors to the Hex in seven years and a man who was twice on CONCACAF’s Coach of the Year shortlist in the last four years.

Then there is gifted France-based midfielder John Bostock, who turned up to represent the “Red, Black and White” against St Vincent and the Grenadines in March 2016, only to discover that the TTFA did not sort out his paperwork.

Despite invitations from Hart, Tom Saintfiet and Lawrence, Bostock has not returned to Trinidad since.

From broadcaster Selwyn Melville—who is negotiating for the use of the Soca Warriors trademark—to Futsal coach and ex-Strike Squad captain Clayton “JB” Morris, there are similar tales of discourtesy from the current local football president.

Former technical director Kendall Walkes, who was hired by former TTFA president Raymond Tim Kee, described John-Williams’ interaction with him as bordering on abusive.

“I would talk to my wife after [our] meetings and she is aware of the ridicule and cynicism I have had to deal with, as he tries to feed his narcissistic needs and ego,” Walkes told Wired868. “He even ridiculed my decision to come here. He has brought the entire situation into something personal.

“I can’t tell you how vindictive his actions were in a lot of instances.”

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)

Belgian coach Tom Saintfiet, who was bizarrely threatened with dismissal at his public unveiling, said his biggest regret was that he did not leave Trinidad there and then.

“From the first day of my unveiling, I did not get the support of the TTFA and its President,” stated Saintfiet, in his resignation letter, “support which is needed to be able to do my job in a professional and successful way. I never got the chance to work with the players nor staff requested.

“Perhaps I should have taken this decision right from day one of my appointment, after the President openly second guessed his own choice of employing me. But I gave him at the TTFA the benefit of the doubt.”

After a year and a half at the helm, does John-Williams still deserve the benefit of the doubt?

The Warriors’ World Cup campaign could be effectively over by month-end and yet the TTFA president has not landed a major sponsor for the senior squad. While his efforts to squeeze more money from an existing television rights deal for Trinidad and Tobago’s home matches is now before the courts.

John-Williams is more of a hindrance than an asset to the burgeoning Trinidad and Tobago Super League thus far, his football body is being sued by the National Futsal Team and his use of TTFA money for the unofficial launch—or at least precursor to the launch—of his unsuccessful Caribbean Football Union (CFU) presidential bid remains a scandal and shocking example of his mishandling of the association’s finances.

Photo: Caribbean Football Union (CFU) president Gordon Derrick (second from left) is sandwiched by TTFA president David John-Williams (second from right) and TTFA employee Sharon O'Brien (far left) before the CFU Under-17 final on 25 September 2016 at the Ato Boldon Stadium. John-Williams tried unsuccessfully to replace Derrick as CFU president on 23 July 2016. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: Caribbean Football Union (CFU) president Gordon Derrick (second from left) is sandwiched by TTFA president David John-Williams (second from right) and TTFA employee Sharon O’Brien (far left) before the CFU Under-17 final on 25 September 2016 at the Ato Boldon Stadium.
John-Williams tried unsuccessfully to replace Derrick as CFU president on 23 July 2016.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

Other than the competition and tournaments committee, it is uncertain how many other bodies are operational at present and the technical committee—which is responsible for recommending the hiring and dismissal of coaches—still has not been mended after half its membership, including chairman Dexter Skeene and vice-chairman Alvin Henderson, quit last month.

The TTFA’s failure to ensure the successful running of all its standing bodies is another broken campaign promise by John-Williams.

On the debit side, John-Williams landed a TT$8 million NLCB contract for an ambitious elite youth development programme. Early reports from the ground suggested a series of administrative issues, though, and there is still much distance to cover before it delivers as promised to the football community and the sponsors.

As for the publishing of the TTFA’s finances for 2015, one can only hope that John-Williams is as transparent with money spent during his term.

The women’s programme, where the football president secured the services of respected Italian coach Carolina Morace, looks to be the feather in John-Williams’ cap—although his early explanations regarding the financing of that project do not add up.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) president David John-Williams (second from right) poses with Women's National Senior Team coaches (from left) Nicola Williams, Carolina Morace and Elisabetta Bavagnoli at a press conference in the Ato Boldon Stadium, Couva on 1 February 2017. (Courtesy Sean Morrison/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) president David John-Williams (second from right) poses with Women’s National Senior Team coaches (from left) Nicola Williams, Carolina Morace and Elisabetta Bavagnoli at a press conference in the Ato Boldon Stadium, Couva on 1 February 2017.
(Courtesy Sean Morrison/Wired868)

If John-Williams can give Morace what she needs and keep his bumbling crew out of her way, maybe better days are ahead for the Women Soca Warriors.

And the TTFA president sure knows how to pick a hapless employee.

For the National Beach Soccer Team’s pre-tournament camp in Tobago, television presenter Gordon Pierre was sent to act as press officer. And, on his first TTFA gig, Pierre showed up with a female friend in tow who, on occasion, even accompanied him to the breakfast table with the squad.

Just imagine a staff member trying to take his girlfriend along on international duty under former Real Madrid coach Leo Beenhakker. It beggars belief.

On the eve of the Beach Soccer Team’s departure for CONCACAF competition, it turned out that Pierre did not have a valid passport and could not travel with the squad to Bahamas.

It is a scene that is repeated far too often these days. Last December, Davis, as efficient as always, learnt that his travel documents were not in order at the check-in desk, as the Warriors boarded a flight to Nicaragua.

Photo: TTFA vice-president and Soca Warriors head of delegation Ewing Davis (centre) turns up for breakfast on an overseas tour in an Adidas vest and short pants. The players (background) are outfitted in Joma jerseys and track pants.
Photo: TTFA vice-president and Soca Warriors head of delegation Ewing Davis (centre) turns up for breakfast in Honduras, on the eve of a 2018 World Cup qualifier, in an Adidas vest and short pants.
The players (background) are outfitted in Joma jerseys and track pants.

Current team manager Richard Piper was unsure of Davis’ duties as head of delegation and promised to get back to Wired868 with that information. But a former technical staff member gave his own verdict of what John-Williams’ vice president contributes on his overseas tours with the team, which so far included China, Peru, Uruguay, Honduras and the United States.

“He does absolutely nothing as far as I know,” said the official, who spoke with Wired868 on condition of anonymity. “He may meet with persons from that FA and represent the TTFA in that way. On game day, he would sit in the box with the president of the FA we are visiting. And that’s about it.

“He does nothing on the ground. Nothing really.”

For that, Davis pockets a per diem that is believed to dwarf what is offered to the players. Not that paying the players anything at all is ever a priority.

To date, roughly 22 players are still owed money after putting their bodies on the line—Carlyle Mitchell and Cornell Glen both suffered lengthy injuries while Maurice Ford, Carlos Edwards and Hashim Arcia also picked up knocks—during four international games under Saintfiet.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago forward Cornell Glen (left) nurses his broken arm while head coach Tom Saintfiet looks on after their Gold Cup qualifying loss against Haiti on 8 January 2017. (Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago forward Cornell Glen (left) nurses his broken arm while head coach Tom Saintfiet looks on after their Gold Cup qualifying loss against Haiti on 8 January 2017.
(Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)

You would think that Davis and, by extension, the TTFA would at least show a modicum of respect for the players and technical staff for their efforts. That maybe Davis would at least dress appropriately and keep his phone in his pocket during his far from taxing duties, as he would be expected to if he was watching “Lego Batman” at Movie Towne.

But you would be wrong. Davis cannot even get a pre-game handshake right, which is surely a landmark low for even the TTFA.

At W Connection, players must wear shirts and ties off the field and give 100 percent effort on it. But then, according to present and former employees, club administrators routinely pay them late while the case of Dwight Quintero suggested a reckless approach to the health of their players.

It appears to be a philosophy that John-Williams has taken with him to the TTFA job.

And that, rather than the identity of Lawrence’s starting centre forward or team formation, remains the biggest obstacle to the progress of the local game.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago National Senior Team head coach Dennis Lawrence (second from left) and half of his technical staff who are (from right) Stephen Bradley, Riedoh Berdien, Ross Russell, Sol Campbell and Stuart Charles-Fevrier take in the action during their friendly international outing against Barbados on 10 March 2017. Lawrence was without assistant coach Stern John, who lost his daughter, Nikela, to a tragic mishap on the eve of the game. (Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago National Senior Team head coach Dennis Lawrence (second from left) and half of his technical staff who are (from right) Stephen Bradley, Riedoh Berdien, Ross Russell, Sol Campbell and Stuart Charles-Fevrier take in the action during their friendly international outing against Barbados on 10 March 2017.
Lawrence was without assistant coach Stern John, who lost his daughter, Nikela, to a tragic mishap on the eve of the game.
(Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)

About Lasana Liburd

Lasana Liburd
Lasana Liburd is the CEO and Editor at Wired868.com and a journalist with over 15 years experience at several local and international publications including Play the Game, World Soccer, UK Guardian and the Trinidad Express.

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144 comments

  1. WDH, what is this about Las? I went missing last night

  2. Got your back, the actions were classless, what they should be answering is what phone-call was he taking, and, why he was not in a TTFA red jersey, whose jersey was he wearing, and why.

  3. I wonder where the funds are coming from to go to court ?

  4. What did I miss? Seems like alot!

  5. I would expect nothing less.

  6. W connection Football Association, Trinidad connection national team…..playing fete match football St. Lucia style.

  7. They studied at university, got a diploma, then use it to corrupt and rob the country. When you have Wharf Rats in positions what you expect. Remember W Connection is a Fete match team…..expect fete match behaviour.

  8. blue is the new red white and black.

  9. And this surprises people? LoL

  10. Oh Lawd alyuh really have to excuse the man eh, maybe it was his boss that called him eh, the president and Alyuh know already that he does really do some outta timing things eh, the same like telling Coach Tom that if he didn’t win the both games, that he wudda get his throat buss and the whole world heard what he said on the internet and the TV eh. Them really good yes. hahahaha

    • Scotty Ranking

      This reminds me of the time during the UNC’s first stint in power that Trevor Sudama – a senior Cabinet Minister no less – was giving a public speech that was interrupted by his personal ringing cellphone, which he paused in midst-speech to answer claiming that he had it on him in case “the boss” (PM Basdeo Panday) might call …

      To that and this situation with Davis I say: UTTER RUBBISH!!!!! A total lack of professionalism was shown for the occasion at hand and for the participant’s role in it.

      It just goes to sow that never-see-come-see attitudes are alive and kicking in 2017 and permeate all levels of King David’s court. Too bad this court seems to be made up of jesters instead of knights and noble men.

  11. And. who blue jersey he wearing

    That was really tolerated?????

    • Scotty Ranking

      I remember a story about former Chelsea manager Avram Grant. In the mid-seventies he was given access to Liverpool’s training ground by Bob Paisley. On the first day Avram managed to don, of all things, a BLUE shirt On a visit to the heart of the crimson tide of Merseyside!!!!!!! He was quietly but firmly advised to change out of it immediately. And this was just for a training ground visit.

      Ewing Davis, in my view, is at the very least an inconsiderate backside. At worst he is a certifiable jackass, completely oblivious to the ways of protocols and proper decorum.

      • Earl Best

        Not sure you’re right there, Scott. “Oblivious of”? Try contemptuous of, as in those ways/rules/guidelines are for lesser mortals, not for me!

  12. This is unforgivable

    What phone-call could be so important?

    Did FIFA call?

  13. I know a goalie in England had to resign for eating ah pie on the bench lol. This one on he cell in a lineup introduction …this next one bringing he sketel to a team tournament. Imagine officials walking out in a champions league game on a cellphone. Some goat we have here leading our organisations yes…smdh

  14. I tell yuh don’t hot yuh head…that Barbados game was a fete match…anything coulda happen there…lucky he didn’t walk on with a beer in hand

  15. Looks like we will have to take the jamming until they are removed from office, because no change in sight!

  16. Hence the reason why Maximus Dan wrote the song “Full Extreme…..so dem eh business and they will just continue jamming still eh. Them really good yes.

  17. One organization at a time. Home is where the heart is.

  18. Only a fool would do something so unprofessional. Foooool!

  19. Anyway u slice this, it is incredibly embarrassing and extremely unprofessional.
    But much like the politicians of the day, we’re getting what we voted for.
    #samecrap
    #differentppl

  20. The football clubs executive are tight group which nominate one of their own I believed to TTFA exec. Elections. Like politicians promises and buy offs are made. Would you believed some these TTFA are or were at Secondary schools exec.

  21. over and over , God help us! how do people get into these positions. who votes them in?

  22. D bull… St still going on when we go change

  23. Disrespetful and unprofessional…..

  24. I actually don’t blame Mr.Pierre ..I blame the fact that there is no accountability for his actions … why would he , the politicians ,the bandits or anyone care what they do if there is no ACCOUNTABILITY

  25. What’s new ,it’s like the politics position for self not the institution.

  26. ..Man wear blue yes. Barbados colour..

  27. Relax, it wasn’t football, he was simply demonstrating the old ” self serving, classless style”, an offshoot of the ” drunken master style” which we know oh so well.The Bajans have never seen this style you see.

  28. scotch and coconut water …..over and over again…

  29. Earl Best

    Do you know what is the most telling thing about this story? Have a read of the comments again and see if anyone expresses any real surprise at the lack of decorum, of class, of broughtupsy displayed by the several people mentioned.

    What could be a more damning indictment of the leadership than that people have come to EXPECT the TTFA reps to behave this way? And it hasn’t been that long, has it? since DJW is in the driver’s seat…

    Jesus!

  30. Power and greed affects not only politicians but especially sport administrators in T&T. They forget they are there to serve and improve our development when they start to fill a pocket or two.

  31. Lasana Liburd not only in football. At a recent sscl game my son was playing in. The umpire stopped the game to take a phone call approx 5 plus minutes. I couldn’t believe my eyes.

  32. This is not by any means a small issue, we need in this time leaders men with steel character and love of the game,,,,,not papishow politics

  33. some things must be dismantled/destroyed and start with new people

  34. Lasana when is the next TTFA elections ?

  35. ..NO COMMENT. ENUFF SAID. LOL…

  36. Sigh! Here we go again! When will we ever get it right?

  37. We got rid of a man that barring some fairly ridiculous cock ups had our national football going in an upward trajectory for what…….ah blind man coulda see dat all other candidates would have endeavored to stick there nasty paws in d pot and spoil d cook……….I hold no brief for d man, but football stakeholders truly drop d ball when they voted timkee out, lasana, I know u won’t agree but i feel it would have been better to hush and take d good dat came with timkee’s bad…….I have no doubt in my mind we would have been better of……..but hindsight is ah hell of ah ting

  38. Great article !! Mr. Pierre bringing his lady friend to the beach lime? Allyuh really good yes lol

  39. Natasha Nunez asst ref was also female.

  40. Once he collects his big monthly salary his behaviour doesn’t matter .. and who’s to discipline him?

  41. I wonder what logo does he have on his blue jersey and what on earth is a facility manager doing on the field greeting the players eh, I guess that madness only happens in our sweet country eh. Them really good yes.