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Warrior crisis: Coaches, players and staff unpaid; youth teams inactive

The Trinidad and Tobago national football team displayed its battling abilities over the last week with gutsy performances in defeats to World Cup-bound teams, Argentina and Iran. But, closer to home, local football remains in near crisis mode with half of the national teams inactive while the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) owes its coaches, players and office staff and legal woes mounting.

Over 92 countries were reported to have watched the “Soca Warriors” stride on to the field at the Estadio Monumental to face Argentina on June 4 in a high profile friendly.

Photo: Argentina captain Lionel Messi (right) is tackled by Trinidad and Tobago midfielder Khaleem Hyland during their international fixture in Buenos Aires on 4 June 2014  (Copyright AFP 2014/ Juan Mabromata)
Photo: Argentina captain Lionel Messi (right) is tackled by Trinidad and Tobago midfielder Khaleem Hyland during their international fixture in Buenos Aires on 4 June 2014
(Copyright AFP 2014/ Juan Mabromata)

However, Wired868 understands that, although the Warriors were guests of the Argentina Football Association (AFA) and their tour was funded by the Ministries of Tourism and Sport, the players and technical staff members did not receive any stipends for their eight-day excursion. While they received a match fee for the Argentina contest, there was no payment yet for their second match against Iran.

TTFA president Raymond Tim Kee and general secretary Sheldon Phillips are both in Brazil for a CONCACAF congress and were unavailable for comment.

However, the senior team’s issues pale in comparison to the woes of the youth teams, which are mandated to produce national players for the 2018 and 2022 World Cup drives.

Last year, Phillips blamed the Ministry of Sport when the national under-15 team forfeited its place at the inaugural CONCACAF Under-15 competition in Cayman Islands, due to lack of funds. It was the first time in Trinidad and Tobago’s football history that a national team had withdrawn from a FIFA-recognised tournament.

However, the Trinidad and Tobago national under-20 team is scheduled to participate in the Caribbean leg of its New Zealand 2015 Under-20 World Cup qualifying campaign later this month and the TTFA has not appointed its staff yet; let alone begun screenings or training sessions.

Photo: W Connection right back and Wired868 Young Player of the Season Alvin Jones (left) tries to keep the ball from North East Stars midfielder Chike Sullivan.  Jones is eligible to play with the Trinidad and Tobago national under-20 team. (Courtesy Allan V. Crane/Wired868)
Photo: W Connection right back and Wired868 Young Player of the Season Alvin Jones (left) tries to keep the ball from North East Stars midfielder Chike Sullivan.
Jones is eligible to play with the Trinidad and Tobago national under-20 team.
(Courtesy Allan V. Crane/Wired868)

Bizarrely, the Caribbean Football Union (CFU) gave its dates for the under-20 competition as “June-July” with no fixed venues. The TTFA’s organisation seems equally shambolic.

“They have not started anything yet,” said TTFA official Sharon O’ Brien, who admitted that she did not have any information on the under-20 squad. “They will probably use the last staff that they had.”

The national under-20 team that competed in 2012 was short of two coaches, though, after head coach Michael McComie was suspended for alleged reckless behaviour in his treatment of defender Alvin Jones while assistant coaches, Anthony Rougier and Clint Marcelle, both quit after goalkeeper coach and Defence Force boss Ross Russell was promoted ahead of them to the head post.

Russell is, in theory, unavailable to lead the present under-20 team though, since he serves as goalkeeper coach for the national under-17 team, which has its own Caribbean qualifiers in late July.

But the national under-17 team is not training either.

Photo: Defence Force head coach Ross Russell. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: Defence Force head coach Ross Russell.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

“The last time we were together was when we went to Colombia last November,” said national under-17 head coach Shawn Cooper. “Our tournament is towards the end of July to the beginning of August, we are not even sure of the date yet… At this time, we are just waiting for the General Secretary to tell us what is happening with regards to the funding of the programme so we can start.

“Our under-17s are currently playing with their clubs in the Pro League (youth division). So we go around week-in and week-out and see the boys play against each other, so we have some idea of how they are going.”

The national under-17 technical staff has not received a stipend—which ranges between $4,000 and $5,000 per month—since November 2012, which, incidentally, was the month that Raymond Tim Kee was elected unopposed as TTFA president.

Cooper and his staff are owed five to six months remuneration for their work with the previous under-17 team while they are yet to be paid for time spent with the present crop. Earlier this year, technical director Anton Corneal and national under-17 assistant coach Leonson Lewis both resigned in frustration at the financial situation.

Team manager Christo Gouveia explained it was the other costs related to holding training sessions rather than the unpaid stipends that are paralysing the young Warriors.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago national under-17 midfielder Levi Garcia (right) takes on a Costa Rican opponent during CONCACAF competition last year. (Courtesy CONCACAF.com)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago national under-17 midfielder Levi Garcia (right) takes on a Costa Rican opponent during CONCACAF competition last year.
(Courtesy CONCACAF.com)

“It is really about the inability to fund the transport of players to training and particularly those coming from areas like Moruga and Mayaro,” said Gouveia. “Some of their parents can’t afford for them to come training regularly in Couva. There is no money to buy drinking water and to ensure players can have something to eat after training, so their next meal won’t be when they reach home at 11.30 pm.

“We worked for over a year without a stipend so it is not that we don’t want to work.”

At present, the only national teams in training are the women’s senior and under-15 teams. Neither is receiving any funding from the local football body and both squads are surviving on the generosity of the parents and the sacrifice of players and staff.

Things can easily get worse for local football before they get better.

The TTFA ignored a 14-day deadline from the 2006 World Cup players to produce tangible proof of a willingness to complete a court-scheduled bonus payment, which was due nine months ago. There is no word yet as to whether the Warriors will indeed initiate a winding-up order against the football body.

Photo: TTFA president Raymond Tim Kee (second from left) embraces 2006 World Cup player Kelvin Jack while teammates Brent Sancho (far left), Cyd Gray (second from right) and David Atiba Charles look on in May 2013. The TTFA has not fulfilled its obligations to the World Cup players since its initial payment to the players. (Courtesy Wired868)
Photo: TTFA president Raymond Tim Kee (second from left) embraces 2006 World Cup player Kelvin Jack while teammates Brent Sancho (far left), Cyd Gray (second from right) and David Atiba Charles look on in May 2013.
The TTFA has not fulfilled its obligations to the World Cup players since its initial payment to the players.
(Courtesy Wired868)

And Wired868 understands the TTFA is scheduled to make a seven-figure payment to former football icon, Russell Latapy, for salaries owed to him during his spell as head coach in 2009 and 2010.

The settlement figure with the World Cup players and Latapy were both negotiated by the current TTFA president and general secretary, even though the issues occurred before they accepted their present roles.

Wired868 also understands that the TTFA’s office staff is yet to receive salaries for May.

Cooper said the national under-17 team is not blaming anyone for their difficulties although he admitted that everyone involved, including players and parents, is getting anxious.

“We have no idea what is going on but the staff is ready to go and we have a squad in mind,” said Cooper. “Obviously, people will blame the coach if things don’t go right (in the competition) but my back is broad. If the federation has no money, then they have no money. What else can we do?

“In order to do the job on the field, you need the help from on top; so I’m hoping that things get better. We were hoping that with this new administration it would be full steam ahead.”

Photo: TTFA president Raymond Tim Kee (right) and general secretary Sheldon Phillips. (Courtesy Wired868)
Photo: TTFA president Raymond Tim Kee (right) and general secretary Sheldon Phillips.
(Courtesy Wired868)

Cooper, who is a RBC estate corporal, defended his staff’s decision to continue working without pay for over a year.

“We are going through this because there are a lot of kids who need this football,” he said. “For their sake, we have to try.”

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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70 comments

  1. Why why why – this isn’t rocket science.

  2. The money went up in smoke (Weed).

  3. Dotishness like this only happens when people are not held accountable. This wouldnt happen if they knew that they would get fired and blacklisted from all aspects of sports for such failure

  4. Our government only cares about oil and gas. sport and youth development to them is of lesser importance. i pity our government

  5. Y is dat….take d money dat building d couva velodrome…n pay these guys…cause it not worth d red or green cent…

  6. Well I think it was major – we just have to agree to disagree…lol

  7. Roger, I NEVER suggested that anything was Guerra’s “responsibility”. My point is that his gesture is but one expression of the culture of self-emasculation in the football fraternity, other expressions being the behaviour of Hart, Maurice, and the physio in the plane scene….

  8. I think it was pretty minor personally.

  9. I don’t see any game about to start in the pic there with Ronaldinho.

  10. Trust me Lasana, I would have felt the SAME way if it was Dwight. Don’t make it out as anything personal against Guerra, because its not.

  11. Oh Lord,is football.Is kicks !

  12. No big thing here either. But what would we have thought if this was a Trini Pro League player?

  13. I wonder if we would have felt the same way if Dwight Yorke had kidding around with Messi in the same way.
    Would we have felt that if Yorke did it, it must be ok?
    Is it partly because Guerra is a just a kid playing at home in the Pro League and dared to make a gesture to the greatest player of his generation?

  14. @Christian Hume i don’t see what Guerra; a young player on the squad has to do with this systemic failure on the part of our nation to be singled out thusly. The ‘mindset’ to have a playful moment with the undisputed king of the game right now is begin way over-analyzed IMO. And when i say systemic, i mean systemic and generational – the ways in which we treat those who represent us and give their all to reach the top of their field in our country and wear our colors. To suggest it is Guerra’s responsibility more than anyone else’s is at best grossly unfair to Guerra, and suggests we have more luxury of critique than any other Trinidadian who finds herself in the center of, and participant in, the sometime cesspool of corruption we’ve created. Guerra is no more representative of the problem than you or me. We have to begin to think more broadly and deeply about who we are, the immensity of the things we’ve achieved as a nation, and the immensity of the ways in which we seem intent on undermining it, and how we each play a part in the furthering of the complex culture that brings us here.

  15. If the TTFA becomes transparent and published its financials I am sure a loyal and understanding population would contribute to our beloved footballers. No one would invest in an company or organization that is secretive about its financial performance to even the main stakeholders .

  16. i’m sorry, I tried to read the entire thing but had to stop to save myself from becoming stupid…….. this is utter crap, how selfish & narrow-minded can our persons in authority be? We have the world of talent that can be reaped if molded properly, but Mr. Tim Kee amongst many other denying all of the necessities & owings. I’m sorry to say this but i might be glad if T&T football dies actually so that we don’t embarass ourselves on the world stage with this petty bullshit

  17. this whole situation is entirely shameful oh gosh man how do you really justify not paying hard working people, but if you don’t stand up for something you will fall for anything totally disgraceful by these offices! pay the peope!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  18. If the thieving Jack Warner and his cronies had directed all the millions of monies that they made over the years eh and put things in place eh instead of selling out our sweet country in 1989 ent to the Americans eh for them to go to the 1990 World Cup eh in Italy and in so doing eh they were allowed to have their first ever World Cup in 1994 in the USA that made millions of monies ent and who won that World Cup eh no other than the greatest team in the universe Brazil ent our football would have been on a different level today ent and what about the 3 coaches who also had sold out to Jack Warner because they wanted to coach the national youth/senior teams and eat ah food ent they know themselves and the Coaches Association had crashed when it first started eh back in the day ent look leh meh hush meh mouth before they put out ah hit on meh like what happened to Dana yes enough said.Them really good yes.

  19. all i’ll say to all you critics out there is ”YA’LL REALLY EXPECT US TO COMPETE WITH TOP TEAMS” ??????,SPORT IN TRINIDAD IS STILL A HOBBY AND FOR MOST OF THE CARIBBEAN.ENOUGH SAID.

  20. They don’t see it as a mistake, but they are making a terrible mistake if they believe they can continue like this forever. Nothing lasts forever.

  21. But is time to hear from the special Advisor…

  22. If the behaviour is consistent then nothing done is a “mistake”… this is what we call “business as usual”

  23. smh they are doomed to repeat past mistakes…

  24. with so much money in trinidad, you would think our players and admin would be paid, but then you remember how corrupt and selfish our nation and governments are and have been since inception

  25. Wait wait wait. Isn’t the President supposed to b a treasurer of a certain political party? And the coaches, staff and players are not being paid? Let me ask another question. If the party wins the next General Election, he could very well end up as the Minister of Finance. If he cannot properly take care of the finances of the TTFA, how can he be trusted with running the $$ of an entire country???

  26. The World Cup players threatened to start wind up process this week. Doesn’t seem that TTFA is too bothered about that.

  27. Once again broken promises from Mr.Tim

  28. please let’s do something for this kids….they are the future of Trinidad and Tobago football,less VIP travel,less nepotism,no time and no money to waste now

  29. Nice that’s how it does go smh

  30. This is simply unacceptable.

  31. I don’t believe that they don’t have the monies nah, they feel they bright ent, they want people to feel sorry for them and help them out or they are still trying to brakes from paying all of their debts, and if it is so then go after Jack Warner nah, and make him sell all of his properties home and abroad so that all the monies that he stole eh that be longs to the TTFA can be returned. Them really good yes.

  32. Isn’t the TTFA suppose tuh be dissolved this week?

  33. Just an average day at the office

  34. I hope to follow up on those issues very soon Christian.

  35. If Guerra was more focussed on fighting this advantage scene, he would not have had the time, nor would he have been of the mindset to bow to Messi – whose own Federation is paying him well.

    And leh we doh even talk about coach Hart, goalkeeping coach Maurice, and the physiotherapist – all displaying a total lack of balls in allowing Maurice and the physiotherapist to be kicked off the plane.

    This self-emasculation in the football fraternity needs to STOP.

  36. This sucks for people who want to do their country it takes one idiot to ruin it all

  37. Hmmmm I would say a sad day in T&T football however I would be lying it’s actually a sad 8 yrs or 2 World Cups after our qualification for the biggest stage in football. Makes me wonder had the proper steps been taken after 2006 we could have been up there with the likes of USA and Mexico. Wake up devon u dreaming lol

  38. Scotty Ranking

    You know what irks me the most about this situation? The TTFA continues to defy a High Court ruling that binds them to a commitment to the 2006 players, owes successive national coaches and training staff years’ worth of unpaid salaries, effectively stifles youth initiatives at all levels, force traveling national teams into ridiculous layovers without even modest accommodations, yet when Tim Kee and Phillips travel it is ALWAYS as first class passengers with accommodations at posh hotels, all at the TTFA’s expense. So where is the money? Why is this situation persisting?

  39. And they want these players to play at their best and they treating them like dogs……. Hmmmm

  40. And if a young player should refuse to play or chose to play for his club outside . The out cry is where is the love for country and no national pride. According to ear them really good yes steupppppsssss

  41. Not Jack Maylene…ANAL take over inna form lol. ..

  42. the shame continues even after Jack.

  43. Lol daiz ah habit…practice from years gone by.

  44. Jack the nutgrass still thieving money.

  45. I dunno how Tim Kee could look those players in the face nah ?

  46. This izzah annoying trend dat d society geh comfortable with. ..

  47. Anil had a 200% increase in budget..

  48. just as how we were fool by kamla and her bunch of thieves so was it with timkee

  49. once Mr Tim Kee and his fellow board members are paid things will carry on……. sadly they believe players represent sweet T&T only through love of country but they are hired professionals who can’t work for free….SMH

  50. So wat d f**k dey doin with sport allocations? Who accountable for funds? Ent in a normal organization, if yuh put out money, yuh get a receipt? AND…?

  51. if it sad again when will we learn and take sports seriously

  52. the holiday in argentina is over who cares who get paid and who ent get paid

  53. Money channeling different directions in t&t…greedy govt ministers and business men, ghost CEPEP, URP and lifesport gangs…hence minimum wages and no pay 4 d national team. …smh. ..!!!!!!!

  54. Yuh wicked man………you go buss this sour news on such a hallowed day in Soca Warriors history? 🙁

  55. And a certain ex FIFA vice president still living like a king and feeling untouchable

  56. is this anything new in our football

  57. All dat and dey have time to bow to Messi. STEUPS!! – plus the coach, the goalkeeping coach, and the physiotherapist selling their testicles to government officials. Anybody surprised?? STEEEEEEEEEEUPS!!!!

  58. ahhhh the vicious cycle continues… :/