Pro League rookie club Central FC will aim to collect the first trophy in its brief history tomorrow night when the “Couva Sharks” face Neal & Massy Caledonia AIA from 8 pm in the TTFF FA Trophy final at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva.
But, if it was up to Central coach and ex-England World Cup player Terry Fenwick, Central and Caledonia would both find something more worthwhile to do with their Friday night.
Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation (TTFF) president Raymond Tim Kee was unable to secure any sponsorship for the competition and participating clubs lose money for every round with the cost of transport, meals and miscellaneous fees as well as physical wear and tear.
“There is no money for the FA (winners),” said Tim Kee, in a previous interview, “just the conventional medals and trophies. The football has no money now. Every time a little money comes in, it is a matter of filling holes…
“You can’t get blood out of stone.”
But Fenwick, a former FA Trophy winner and Pro League Coach of the Year with San Juan Jabloteh, described the situation as a joke, particularly in light of the Trinidad and Tobago government’s supposed war on crime.
“I think it is ridiculous that the TTFF and the government are not prepared to back the FA Cup financially,” said Fenwick. “They keep on going on about crime and whatever else but you have the kids from the block working hard and trying to better themselves and make a career outside of crime and you are not backing them. It is a social injustice.
“How has the Hoops of Life benefitted anybody? (Former United States basketball star) Shaquille O’ Neal came and took his money and was gone while the kids here are still struggling for an honest dollar.”
Fenwick might not hold the competition in high regard. But he admitted that Central is anxious to lift its first title and, as such, the Sharks cannot afford to pass up tomorrow’s opportunity.
Despite the absence of financial incentive, Central is desperate to win.
“We are trying to progress as a football club and winning a title will help,” said Fenwick. “We have worked very hard for this cup final. We are playing against a team that is a lot of points better than us in the League and we will try to prepare as best we can to upset them.”
Central is unbeaten in eight from 10 matches played since Fenwick replaced compatriot Graham Rix in January.
Goal scoring is a problem as Antigua international forward Peter Byers managed just one item since he joined the Sharks last month. But Central’s uptempo, committed style presents a real challenge to opponents and winger Jason Marcano is in good form as well as veteran playmaker and ex-Caledonia star Marvin Oliver.
Caledonia has not fully recaptured its poise since a flurry of exits during the January transfer window but the central midfield pairing of captain Stephan David and Argentine Miguel Romeo provides stability while Densill Theobald’s return from Finland might offer a dash of style and know-how to their build-ups.
Strikers Trevin Caesar, Sheldon Holder and the versatile Keyon Edwards have had their scoring boots on this year too and Central captain and custodian Marvin Phillip is unlikely to have a quiet night.
It should make for an entertaining FA Trophy final match-up; even if the input from the tournament organisers, the TTFF, and the State is questionable at best.
T&T National Men’s U-17 vs W Connection U-17, Exhibition, Ato Boldon Stadium, 5 pm
Caledonia AIA vs Central United, FA Trophy final, Ato Boldon Stadium, 8 pm.