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Oil prices blamed for scrapped tour; Mexico and T&T U-20s left in lurch

The national under-20 football team was forced to scrap its December tour to Mexico due to the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association’s (TTFA) inability to raise the $780,000 needed to fund to trip.

The teenaged “Soca Warriors”, who are the Caribbean Cup champions, are preparing for CONCACAF action in Jamaica next month as they continue their bid to qualify for the New Zealand 2015 FIFA Under-20 World Cup. And head coach Derek King was crushed that his squad will miss such vital preparation.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago national under-20 captain and right back Shannon Gomez (right) battles for possession against Cuba during the Under-20 Caribbean Cup. Gomez was one of five San Juan Jabloteh players who moved to W Connection during the off-season. Developmental fees were paid. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago national under-20 captain and right back Shannon Gomez (right) battles for possession against Cuba during the Under-20 Caribbean Cup.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

The Warriors were due to leave for Mexico tomorrow while their tour included two games against the Mexico national under-23 team and one exhibition match against either the Club America or Pachuca senior team.

“Training has been good and the boys were looking forward to playing Mexico who won the last two CONCACAF under-20 tournaments,” said King. “Knowing that Mexico is always the powerhouse in CONCACAF, these games would have been a good measure for (our) players and staff and we were all really excited to not only play against them but in Mexico too.

“We were told (the Mexico trip) was 100 percent sure. So we are really disappointed.”

The TTFA announced a $1.6 million profit today from the FIFA Women’s Play Off contest between the “Women Soca Warriors” and Ecuador on December 2. However, although the Ministry of Sport is supposedly willing to pay $200,000 towards the Mexico trip, general secretary Sheldon Phillips offered little hope that the football body would meet the deficit.

“What we were looking at is basically putting some (of that revenue) back into the women’s game,” Phillips told Wired868. “The amount required for the Mexico trip was close to $700,000 and that would not have been covered by (revenue from) the women’s game.”

Photo: TTFA president Raymond Tim Kee (centre) gestures to an Ecuador player before kick off while Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar (right) has a word to her grandson. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: TTFA president Raymond Tim Kee (centre) gestures to an Ecuador player before kick off while Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar (right) has a word to her grandson.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

King, an ex-national youth and senior team defender and Pro League Coach of the Year with Joe Public, said the aborted tour would not only affect Trinidad and Tobago’s preparation but Mexico’s as well. And he complained that the TTFA was not doing enough for its national teams or the country’s reputation in the game.

“Mexico would be very disappointed because they could have played anybody but they agreed to schedule us and now we cancelled at the last minute,” said King. “So what happens when we need to do something with Mexico again?

“We got the support from the local clubs who released their players although their season is going on and some players took the sacrifice to leave their university early to come here and train. But I feel as if the (TTFA) didn’t push hard enough to make this happen.

“We have to be thankful to the (Sport Ministry) for their assistance but they are not obligated to fund football. The association really didn’t work to make this happen.”

TTFA administrator William Wallace said there was another issue affecting the football body’s ability to raise money from the Government: falling oil prices.

Wallace inherited general secretary Sheldon Phillips’ responsibilities for team budgets and liaising with the Government after Phillips and his former marketing official, Darren Millien, were implicated in an alleged $400,000 licensing fee scam revealed exclusively by Wired868.

Photo: One 2 One Marketing director Darren Millien ran the TTFA's FIFA-funded income generation programme. Nissi Tours accused Millien of collecting $400,000 for licensing fees, which subsequently disappeared.
Photo: One 2 One Marketing director Darren Millien ran the TTFA’s FIFA-funded income generation programme.
Nissi Tours accused Millien of collecting $400,000 for licensing fees, which subsequently disappeared.

And Wallace said the cost of the Mexico trip would normally be easily absorbed by the Ministry of Sport. He told Wired868 that Permanent Secretary Richard Oliver called all sport bodies to an emergency meeting yesterday where the Government’s financial situation was laid bare.

“(The Ministry of Sport) hasn’t gotten a release of funds from the Ministry of Finance and they used their (existing) money to pay off the debts with the senior team,” said Wallace. “All sporting bodies were called into an emergency meeting yesterday to discuss the current situation with regards the drop in oil prices and the expectations and so on.

“So we have to revisit all the requests sent to them and tailor them in a more realistic way. There are no funds there at this point in time.”

Wired868 tried unsuccessfully to get confirmation of the meeting from the Ministry of Sport.

The current national under-20 squad is believed to be Trinidad and Tobago’s most gifted youth team in this millennium. St Ann’s Rangers striker Kadeem Corbin was the 2014 Caribbean Cup’s MVP while Naparima College midfielder Jabari Mitchell and Shiva Boys’ Hindu College attacker Levi Garcia earned rave reviews at the tournament.

The young Warriors are grouped with the United States, Panama, Aruba, Guatemala and hosts Jamaica in a new format that will see each team play five group matches. The Group A and Group B winners will qualify automatically for the New Zealand World Cup while the second and third place teams from each group will enter a play off for the final two berths.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago winger Levi Garcia (right) bamboozles the Curaçao defence during a 2014 U-20 Caribbean Cup fixture. Garcia is reported to be close to a professional move to Europe. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago winger Levi Garcia (right) bamboozles the Curaçao defence during a 2014 U-20 Caribbean Cup fixture.
Garcia is reported to be close to a professional move to Europe.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

And while teams like Canada and the United States played more than a half dozen international friendlies over the past six months against outfits like England, Russia and Ireland, King may have to make do with practise matches against local Pro League teams instead.

Wallace is working on raising funds for a seven-day pre-tournament camp in Fort Lauderdale, which, together with the CONCACAF competition, would cost roughly TT$1.5 million. He hopes to receive TT$1 million from the Ministry of Sport, despite its financial issues, and raise a further TT$500,000 from the private sector.

“I am waiting over the next 48 hours to see what happens with Fort Lauderdale and the under-20 tournament,” Wallace told Wired868. “The hope is that the government will fund our airfare, daily allowance and accommodation for additional staff in Jamaica while the corporate sector will fund the actual camp in Florida…

“We can’t name our potential sponsors yet but (the fund-raising drive) has been a collective effort from myself and friends outside of the TTFA.”

King suggested that the excitement and passion generated by the women’s team was an example of what sport can bring to Trinidad and Tobago if properly harnessed. He hopes the private sector pays heed.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago under-20 striker Kadeem Corbin (right) prepares to fire past Haiti goalkeeper Steve Sanon in the 2014 U-20 Caribbean Cup final. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago under-20 striker Kadeem Corbin (right) prepares to fire past Haiti goalkeeper Steve Sanon in the 2014 U-20 Caribbean Cup final.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

“We hope the corporate sector comes on board and assists because this is the future of Trinidad and Tobago’s football,” said King. “The Canada and US teams have toured Europe and Panama and Guatemala and so on are investing in their youth. Our players need that international exposure to challenge on this level.

“So we really hope we get that support at least for that week before we head to Jamaica.”

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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53 comments

  1. These falling oil prices might just be the kick in the pants Trinidad and Trinidadians need. Maybe it would force us to earn rather than sponge off government, perhaps government will panic and really look into diversifying the economy and perhaps it will force the private sector to create better quality goods and services if it hopes to survive……………..but then again perhaps not!

  2. Lasana Liburd, those words are so true eh! And I too have some stories to tell!

  3. In other words, you can spend years trying to get a business off the ground with no certainty of success in the end.
    Or, you can join a political party, make links and maybe become a millionaire within months.

  4. I spoke to a Jamaican friend over the weekend and it is interesting to see the difference in mentality due to our respective Government policies.
    Jamaican government taxes heavily and gives little. So people have to get up and get.
    But here you are rewarded for doing the opposite. Everyone wants easy money from the Government and investors don’t really support entrepreneurs when they can get quick and crazy returns from leaching off the Government instead.
    So the only creativity is in finding ways to get the Gov’t to hand over taxpayers’ money. That might be part of the reason why everything from tourism to culture to sport has trouble raising money. And Wired868!
    Of course, unlike the TTFA, if I don’t raise private sector money then I can’t eat. So I’m still able to raise enough to help keep Wired868 growing slowly.
    If oil prices stay low for any length of time, it might be the making of us. If we don’t go berserk instead.

  5. TTFA PLAYING IN DEY ASSHOLE NW …. WHY DEY TREAT OUR NATIONAL TEAMS BAD SO …. FAIL

  6. All them big party and millions for Christians and no money for the youths of the country who representing us? Loool and the oil price just drop a lil while ago and we bankrupt so quick?

  7. More PARC Disposals from those in power….

  8. Debbie it happening since the Queen left us.

  9. Dwane is not today that happening this bullshit going on long time.

  10. I personally heard people calling into radio stations saying they put party before country which to me amounts to treason!! Some of our citizens have evolved party culture into a party cult and such fallacies would only regress our democracy.

  11. I totally agree, but the jury is still out as to whether we are really one people.
    I have my doubts!

  12. Well Vernal if we don’t speak up as a people with one voice, we will continue to be crabs in a barrel.

  13. Dwane John, preaching this morning, yes say it as it is!

  14. A corrupt country with a corrupt government as nd corrupt institutions cannot be expected to have a commission that roots out corruption.

  15. Every organisation in Trinidad and Tobago getting funds from the Gov’t (our tax payer money) should be audited and I honestly think the integrity commission should have an auditing body to assist with this. We the people have not been getting value for our money since the Queen left.

  16. It would be better for our up and coming footballers if foreign professional teams would invest in youth camps and clinics here in the hopes of discovering and developing new talent.

    Having Trinidadians in charge of football in Trinidad is a sure way to stifle the growth of our athletes.

  17. The problem with the TTFA is that it isn’t run like a business, it is run like a Gov’t entity of which the leadership stems from political parties and corruption is merely transfered and the money swindled as usual. FIFA could step in and suspend the body but they currently busy cleaning their own house.

  18. The Govt and TTFA are two separate bodies though. TTFA sources funds from the Govt but they should apply like everybody else in a timely manner. If they not getting the money that should be pointed out but as far as I have been seeing it they have been getting the funds and just aren’t paying the people that are supposed to get paid.

  19. Listen eh, every dollar of taxpayer or otherwise money this administration spends is spent with an eye on reelection, that’s why the Women Soca Warriors haven’t been paid as promised weeks after the fact and why this youth team’s tour has been cancelled.

    I guarantee you that should this youth team suddenly become popular among the citizenry or the Women Soca Warriors be again in the forefront of the news the government would suddenly and miraculously find money.

  20. Lmao, Why the surprise, shock and anger over this issue? Why do we act like any one of us wouldn’t also get tired of the TTFA always coming to you saying they have no money please bail us out. In the last two calendar years how much money has the TTFA received compared to any other sporting body?

  21. TTFA administrator William Wallace said there was another issue affecting the football body’s ability to raise money from the Government: falling oil prices. that statement alone tells me everything everybody in TTFA need to resign asap

  22. When I reach Millien’s face in that story I just lock off. Too much nonsense. What hope is the TTFA giving these young players who one day dream of playing against the best the world has to offer. Look throw a curry-q at least eh.

  23. Oil prices fall hand out for church and increase in pension, no increase for minimum wage and no help for our national team..we at this thing again ..

  24. Didn’t realize Tim Kee and Phillips had sex change operations. Women’s Football my ass! Wonder which “Women” going to benefit from this? I real tired ah this shit. Take the $%#$% 55M and send the Team to Mexico. Dem churches just as bad as TTFA.

  25. Kevin Warren. All the national teams is waste. Big money spend and zero!.

  26. I agree that the administrators must clean up their game because judging by the billboards from Port of Spain to Arima that I pass every day corporate sponsors can more than play their part. It is a crying shame that no matter how much the public throws its support behind these teams, the hard work and dedication of our athletes are not taken seriously at all. Every other country understands the importance of international exposure but we continue to depend on luck and chance. What a waste of great talent. Oil prices are surely going to be used from hereon for all the poor planning and mismanagement of those in authority.

  27. You guys are being SARCASTIC ….Right?

  28. I understand your points..but current and past ADMINISTRATIONS same difference. Across the board corporate trinidad doesn’t really support sports, even in areas with better administrations

  29. This is beyond errors Lasana. Everyone makes mistakes. The lies, lack of accountability and self aggrandising behavior are deliberate acts of character or more correctly – lack thereof.

  30. That is a bittersweet note for me Kendall Tull. I want sport to do well and be funded. But I’m also obligated to point out the errors.
    The best case scenario is for administrators to clean up their act. But I don’t feel much closer to that happening yet.

  31. Ah mean, rubbing down 22 players before a game could be costly.

  32. be care full it might be in the new year the unc football federation it timkee continues in office

  33. I actually could agree them this time. Have you seen the price of massage oil these days. Even coconut oil prices gone through the roof since they deemed it an important health food. Yes, oil IS going up in price.

  34. Falling oil prices meh arse. And Mrs Claus givin wey money on d tv daily like it hav a f ‘- in “OIL”

  35. In all fairness Marvin Wiley, many business men I know are willing to support if they were convinced that the money would go where it is supposed to go. NOBODY trusts the current TTFA administration and if you have been following Wired868, you can’t fault them for thinking that way.

  36. ttfa notwithstanding corporate trinidad is a huge part of the problem. They will put your face on a billboard advertise their product after u worked your ass off. bt during the toil…they never around.. very little investment in sports from corporate Trinidad… shame shame shame.

  37. ok since the girls played the strike squad let the boys play the 2006 team ha ha ha

  38. Ironically, Petrotrin may help them.

  39. That seems to be the excuse of the day with all and sundry

  40. Hmmm! Lasana Lasana!!! Soon the forces will kill the goose that lay the golden egg just watch and c!!

  41. Not surprise d TTFA plans does always be in sand.

  42. Meanwhile, two of our Group A opponents, Jamaica and Panama, are participating in the Copa Simon Bolivar Tournament in Venezuela.
    http://jamaica-gleaner.com/latest/article.php?id=57229

  43. Lasana, I read two paragraphs and had to stop there! This $H!T is unbearable now

  44. This is why some fans are wagonist. It’s frustrating to be a fan. And them always getting disappointed by the TTFA

  45. ahahahahhaahahahah oil prices scape goat lol