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TTFA sabotages young Warriors’ hopes of MLS trial… again!

For the second year running, there were no Trinidad and Tobago players included among a shortlist of the Caribbean’s top young players for the United States’ Major League Soccer (MLS) Caribbean Combine, which kicked off today in Bayamon, Puerto Rico and serves as a talent search for promising regional players.

Photo: Central FC attacker Rundell Winchester (left) tussles with New Zealand captain and ex-West Ham defender Winston Reid during an international friendly in Port of Spain. New Zealand and Trinidad and Tobago played to a goalless draw. (Courtesy Wired868)
Photo: Central FC attacker Rundell Winchester (left) tussles with New Zealand captain and ex-West Ham defender Winston Reid during an international friendly in Port of Spain.
New Zealand and Trinidad and Tobago played to a goalless draw.
(Courtesy Wired868)

And, yet again, the explanation seemed to lie in the inability of Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) general secretary Sheldon Phillips to execute a simple task.

On 25 November 2014, Caribbean Football Union (CFU) president Gordon Derrick wrote to the region’s Member Associations in an email entitled: “Invitation to Participate in 2015 Major League Soccer Caribbean Combine.”

Wired868 has a copy of the email and relevant attachments.

The TTFA, like everyone else, was asked to submit for consideration its two best male national team players between the ages of 18 and 22 years who should be part of its “elite player programme.”

Each football body had to submit a CV for each player that should include a passport-sized photo, name, date of birth, height, weight, playing position and number of international caps by the deadline of Friday 28 November 2014. All expenses for the camp, including travel and accommodation, are met by the MLS.

Once more, Trinidad and Tobago players never stood a chance.

Photo: W Connection attacker Neil Benjamin Jr (left) tries to escape from Guaya right back Leroy Jones during the 2013 Toyota Classic semi-finals. Benjamin struck twice against Police FC yesterday. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: W Connection attacker Neil Benjamin Jr (left) tries to escape from Guaya right back Leroy Jones during the 2013 Toyota Classic semi-finals.
Benjamin struck twice against Police FC yesterday.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

On the afternoon of Friday 28 November, Phillips forwarded the CFU’s request to the Pro League, Super League and Secondary Schools Football League (SSFL) bodies instead.

“Please review attached invitation from the CFU for their upcoming MLS Caribbean Combine and share with your affiliate clubs,” wrote Phillips. “If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at any time.”

The Pro League clubs received the request at 2.44 pm on deadline day. Even if the clubs had most of the information on file, there were a few obvious difficulties: the TTFA rather than the clubs held the players’ international data while the clubs were not authorised to communicate directly with the CFU on the matter.

The most glaring issue, though, is if the nine Pro League, 15 Super League teams and 44 schools—even though all would not have players to fit the criteria—had decided to offer two names each, Phillips would have had to sift through 68 CVs.

For that reason, the CFU assumes the best authority to decide the best two young players in the country is the relevant Football Association.

Last year, Phillips passed on the CFU’s correspondence to a handful of local clubs, which bemused CFU general secretary Damien Hughes.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) general secretary Sheldon Phillips. (Courtesy SPORTT)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) general secretary Sheldon Phillips.
(Courtesy SPORTT)

“The process by which players were to be selected was outlined to Member Associations in a correspondence to them,” Hughes told Wired868 last year. “The TTFA never made any submissions of players to the MLS for consideration.”

For a second successive year, Phillips did not seem to understand a simple instruction and, instead, gave local clubs and schools an impossible task with roughly an hour before the CFU’s deadline.

The Caribbean football bodies who did understand how to submit a CV and had players selected to the combine were: Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Guadeloupe, Guyana, Jamaica, Montserrat, Puerto Rico, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Turks and Caicos and the US Virgin Islands.

The “Soca Warriors” were the only English-speaking participant at the 2014 Caribbean Cup finals that did not send a player to the Caribbean Combine.

At present, Trinidad and Tobago has four internationals in the MLS: Cordell Cato (San Jose Earthquakes), Kevin Molino (Orlando City), Kevan George (Columbus Crew) and Joevin Jones (Chicago Fire).

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago right back Alvin Jones (left) drives the ball into the opposing penalty area while St Lucia player Romiel Felix looks on during the 2014 Caribbean Cup qualifying stage. Jones' elder brother, Joevin Jones, will represent Chicago Fire in the 2015 MLS season. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago right back Alvin Jones (left) drives the ball into the opposing penalty area while St Lucia player Romiel Felix looks on during the 2014 Caribbean Cup qualifying stage.
Jones’ elder brother, Joevin Jones, will represent Chicago Fire in the 2015 MLS season.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

Some Trinidad and Tobago players who were eligible for the MLS Caribbean Combine, not counting the National Under-20 players who are preparing for their CONCACAF tournament, include: Alvin Jones, Shahdon Winchester, Neil Benjamin, Jomal Williams (all DIRECTV W Connection), Brent Sam (San Juan Jabloteh), Keon Joseph (North East Stars), Rundell Winchester and Dwight Quintero (both Central FC).

Phillips did not respond to Wired868’s request for the TTFA’s failure to recommend any local players to the MLS.

Phillips was recently relieved of “government relations” and national team budgets after Wired868’s expose on his role in a $400,000 TTFA licensing fee scam. Arguably, there might be a few more duties that he is not keen on.

TTFA president Raymond Tim Kee has not suggested that his general secretary’s monthly remuneration, which is in the region of $45,000, was restructured to suit his new portfolio.

The Pro League will have one representative at the Caribbean Combine as W Connection goalkeeper Julani Archibald was nominated by the St Kitts and Nevis Football Association.

Photo: W Connection goalkeeper Julani Archibald saves a penalty from Central defender Elton John. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: W Connection goalkeeper Julani Archibald saves a penalty from Central defender Elton John.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

Last year, Connection’s Surinamese winger Stefano Rijssel was selected from the Caribbean Combine and then drafted by Seattle Sounders although the club subsequently decided against offering the attacker a deal.

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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84 comments

  1. I blame tim key. Sum body must b in control

  2. If someone in a position is not doing their job, then you fire them and get someone who will, simple as that. Why he still there is beyond me

  3. Some things just don’t change this is the reason why we can’t get any better in football

  4. what has changed nothing its the same as usual

  5. He should have been fired long time. Incompetent and corrupt = useless parasite

  6. Why d f**k he still in office fire his arse

  7. & u Mr Julio Noel wanna stay here for football! To progress to where? Msg. Think & Think hard brother.

  8. Not like it made a difference years before. There are a lot of great talent out there much better than some who’s on the team but all comes down to favours.

  9. smh! more and more ridiculousness and all the while depriving our players from expanding their games and football knowledge.

  10. They continue to put those people back into office every year. it is as though they are comfortable with bad management.

  11. And he does be wearing all d brand name football jerseys and never kick ah lime in he life.
    Cyah even manage ah all fours team but have top position in T&T football.
    Waste of time!

  12. This story cannot possibly be accurate….it just cant. This is beyond incompetence…it is willfull neglect and seemingly a purposeful attempt not to include the TnT footballers in the combine. What must we do to change the composition of the TTFA? commenting on this post isnt enough…there has to be action now.

  13. Competent proactive persons required in the TTFA for the county to move forward in football….

  14. nothing new here nah, TTFA is a joke

  15. The best way to handle this going forward is for the TTFA to develop a formal process to identify a prioritized list of players for this tryout. A panel consisting of National Team coaches, the pro league president, and appropriate TTFA rep(s) should be in place to review and prioritize the list of potential candidates. The list of candidates should come from pro- league teams, with no more than one representative per pro- league team. A complete package from the pro-league team should include player CV and appropriate video footages, which the panel will review as part of their prioritization process. The decision of the panel should be final. The dates for the MLS tryouts are well known, so the formal process could be implemented and executed months ahead/prior to formal CFU notification to the various football Associations/Federations. Deadlines for teams to submit their candidates to the panel could be on the annual football calendar.

  16. Yeah. Ranking footballers would be more subjective than sprinters for instance. Granted.
    I agree in how simple the matter is to get done Kester. All that is need is a minimal amount of organisational skills from the general secretary and the will to do it.
    Following that logic, he is either completely incompetent. Or he could not care less about national players when there is no benefit to him.
    Neither one speaks well about him in his role as effectively the CEO of local football.

    • I would actually blame the entire management of the TTFF not just Mr Phillips. The association is supposed to have documented already eligible players for all national teams. They are supposed already have documented ratings for the players including who is fit, their capabilities and their position on a rating table. If not how do they decide on who is called up for national duty or are given awards as best in their age grouping etc. The only thing that needed to be done or should have to be done is obtain consent from the club for the trial and this can be done prior to this point. When the request comes in it would then just be a question of informing of dates rather than asking for permission.

  17. And this is why parents would rather their children take the education than come and play for our country. One set ah imps killing the sport more and more each year.

  18. Kenneth, if this list of players is generated and players are rated or ranked that would totally be as a result of input from the coaches and technical committee. The TTFA’s only input here would be providing the framework within which it is done and the medium to share the info. Interesting suggestion though. I would like to see what barometers are used to rank players.

  19. Lasana this is a simple administrative affair that should consume minimal time and effort from the GS especially as he’s seems to be burdened with work. Maybe I’m missing something here but if I had to look at it from a simplistic level. When info comes to a club about an age group national team screening what happens? We call, text, watsapp, email, fb msg the coaches and manager who selects the relevant players, informs the parents and passes on info on date and time etc. Arrangements are then made for transport and copying relevant documents etc. I’m saying the same type of principle could be applied here in that admin staff should have been the ones to laise with the clubs and coaches, passed to GS who may have to address any concerns from clubs. He then informs the Tech committee and TD and they then meet when the decisions are made. I’m aware of what happened last year and I say the same thing, the owner of the process is the GS yes but these are simple processes that should not consume too much time.

  20. He’s d son of Lincoln “tiger” Phillips,Nuff said.

  21. They too dotish for that. Phillips playing for what he see and Tim Kee have his eye on PNM treasury. Much bigger fish to fry.