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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. How dem does get these positions. Apparently once there is no money to be made off of the initiative to f**k was with it

  2. And I thought since jack warner left things would improve. … like it get worsee !!

  3. Why these proved fools still in charge of T&T football

  4. what Warner understood that these pissants don’t is this simple equation: Make the sport have a bigger profile. Bigger profile = More money to tief

  5. Kestor, you are ‘assuming’ that I suggested that the executives of the TTFA make the call. Let’s not make this complex. Of course the coaches’s input, and others qualified to do so, are essential but I really don’t care who makes the call as to whom should be listed at the moment. I care about having a ranking list of players that is current month to month and updated quarterly or twice a year and that ranking list of T&T players be known publicly.

  6. Kester Lendor, the general secretary does not just relay information. He has to coordinate the affair even when it comes to delegating responsibility. Not just forward the email and forget about it.
    Last year, I asked Sheldon Phillips why he did not simply ask his coaches as they are the ones who know all the national youth players.
    He said that the players belong to the clubs, which is a very convenient argument. I said ‘okay, so let the national coaches do a shortlist and then ask the club for permission to forward the name.’
    He insisted his way was right. He did not answer at all this time. But then he has not taken a single call since I sent him a message saying I was trying to reach him about Tasha St Louis’ insistence that the TTFA faked an interview from her to congratulate itself.
    I don’t think Sheldon can justify his response to the MLS request. But, of course, I would add his reasoning if and when he comes out of hiding.

    • How is it a ‘convenient’ argument to state the obvious? If Phillips sent the names of Levi Garcia and Rundell Winchester, and Central then objects or declines to make them available, then not only have you wasted time, you run into the possibility that players would accuse the TTFA of bias and favoring certain players. The clubs are the ones in control of the situation, they say who can travel to the combine and who are tied up with competition, training, injury etc. Further, I don’t blame him for not responding, if that is in fact what he’s doing… you’ve made it pointedly clear that you’re not interested in what he has to say, just in how what he says might help suit your narrative.

      • Lasana Liburd

        By that argument, whenever a national team is selected the TTFA is showing bias. I don’t use this statement lightly: You’re an idiot Bakes.

        • Ad hominems… nice. Okay, I’m an idiot, let’s go with that if it makes you feel better. At least when a national team is selected there is a process, with input from several interested parties, not the least of which being coaches and technical directors. What you are advocating… blaming Phillips for not doing, is unilaterally deciding whose name to forward for the opportunity. Again, this isn’t the DR or Grenada where there is no professional league (presumably). All the players in those countries are amateurs and so the only evaluatory body would be the local FAs, and they would have complete say in whose names would be submitted. In Trinidad the allegiances of the players are with their professional clubs first, clubs have complete say in who will be made available for travel to the combine. This isn’t a FIFA issue or one where the clubs are obligated to release the players for national duty. That would be the only circumstance under which the TTFA would have any input. Do you think the USSF gets involved in players trialing with overseas clubs? But all of this was already explained to you last year, so no surprise that Phillips didn’t waste time explaining it to you again. You’d only spin it your way anyways.

          • Lasana Liburd

            So amateur clubs have no rights over players and are owed nothing by FA or MLS if they are wanted elsewhere?
            And the St Kitts player selected who happens to be a professional on W Connection’s books?
            Look closer and see the Jamaican player too.
            Why not ask the other FAs for help if you cannot fill out a form?
            No one is buying your nonsense Sheldon. Have some self-respect and do what you know football needs you to do.

  7. I disagree to some extent Kenneth. That info should for the most part reside with the coaches. They are the ones working week in week out with the players, who’s injured, not performing, mentally ready, needs to increase/drop lbs etc. So even though the executive may know who are the top performers the coaches are best placed to make that kind of call.

  8. Why the fk is he still in his position ?

  9. Dat is y t&t football wud not further cause d ppl in our office 2 slack or jus don’t care!

  10. The TTFA should know who are the top 5 to 10 players in the country at any given time. This should be a list updated quarterly or every 6 months and made available to the T&T football world/public such that whenever a request of this sort is presented there will be no misunderstanding who are the top 3. Selection for such an event would be fast and easy.

    • It’s not just a matter of knowing names… these players are under contract with their clubs. It’s about knowing who the best eligible players are, and who are available to travel to the combine. How is the TTFA supposed to know that?

  11. This guy typifies the incompetence and gross negligence of government and affiliates in this country, to be so bad at a job that you actually do damage.

  12. Failure with this sheldon phillips every time his name is mentioned….. every f..kin time……

  13. Lasana I need to ask, when was it that the CFU got the info from MLS? MLS would have planned this event after last year’s and probably informed CFU months before Nov. 25th. At any rate, why does it take 5 days to read and respond/fwd a work related email? It seems like this was an issue that a support staff could easily handle by fwding the info to the National coaches and the teams. This info would then be collated and passed on to the TD,coach or technical committee for selecting the participants. The GS role in my estimation here would have been limited to simply relaying the info to the CFU.

    • The email was forwarded the same day it was received, November 28. The earlier email sent on November 26 bounced back to Debra Shaw at the CFU.

      • Lasana Liburd

        Will there be a press release quoting Debra Shaw on that? And should we trust that press release? I spoke to the CFU. And that is more nonsense, Sheldon.

        • Calling me “Sheldon” does nothing for your credibility… well, what’s left of it. You claim spoke to the CFU… do you have a quote from Debra Shaw denying that she sent the original email on November 6th and the follow up to the proper account on November 28, 2014? Because the emails I saw was sent to Phillips “me.com” address, which was deactivated months ago per Tim Kee’s order. You know… the same email story you claimed was nonsense the last time? The follow up email was sent at 11:37 am on November 28… per a conversation between Shaw and Phillips

  14. I fed up with dem an dey bullshit dat is y d football in Trinidad will never reach anywhere. they put who dey want in those positions an dem dont know wat to do so dey keep f**kin up…

  15. i remembered an issue similar to this with Khaleem Hyland and Portsmouth and inaction yet again by those in authority led to it falling through

  16. Mervyn/Lasana Liburd – it’ll be interesting to see the position description for General Secretary if TTFA. Is the constitution and by-laws available for a read? I know they have been working to revamp it. I often wonder if the duties of the General Secretary are too involved. In fact I often wonder if it’s a one man show in terms of who is running the TTFA. All things TTFA seems to fall on the shoulders of the General Secretary. Who are the other members of the Executive Board and what are their roles and responsibilities? It’s very likely that Sheldon was stretched too thin/overwhelm. Cutting/shifting some of his responsibilities would then make sense. If he continued to screw up after reducing his roles and responsibilities, then it might be an issue if incompetence and he should then be removed from his position. Something I assume is allowed for by the Constitution and By-Laws.

    • The fact of the matter is that this was not the responsibility of the TTFA, let alone Sheldon Phillips. How could he recommend players for a combine/trial when they are under professional contracts with their clubs? It’s the club’s call to make these players available, they are best situated to know not only who are eligible under the criteria, and who are available to travel to the combine. How would Phillips know this without communicating with the professional leagues/clubs? He got the email on November 28 and passed it along to the ProLeague, Super League, SSFL and the clubs the same day. But he is somehow responsible for this?

  17. You know that Jack Warner is laughing his ass off over this. Yes, he would have stolen the money just like these clowns did. The difference is that he would also have gotten a couple players to the combine.

  18. We will continue to have these problems with local football as long as we continue to have some families treat it like it is their personal family business.
    He gets $45,000 every month for what?
    I am in total support of the government not giving this bandit association a cent until they come up with a structure that is cost effective and that does the work that they are paid to do.

  19. Thanks Lasana, your duties were reduced and you retain the same salary..#1 it could construed as incompetence and if someone is incompetent, it means they cannot do the job for which they were hired.#2 it borders on corruption as you are being paid to do less than you were employed to do, unless of course they are governed by a union.. Somehow it appears to me that he isn’t cutting it..but again this is T&T.

  20. All Phillips interested in is fattening his and Tim Kee’s pockets. Once there’s nothing in it for them he won’t go the extra mile. What am i saying? He doesn’t do his job or go the distance in the first place far less the extra mile. SMDH.

  21. Why is Sheldon Phillips still on the job

  22. Mervyn, he lost some of his duties. But not his title or salary.

  23. Opportunity missed for some promising players

  24. And people want private sector to sponsor

  25. Fire his ass. Too man incompetent ppl in T&T. These young guys need better representation

  26. There are so many opportunities like the MLS for some young athlete to obtain international exposure not to mention promote the country in a positive light and while the other Caribbean countries take full advantage we just do not seem to care. This also happens with events like the World Scholar Athlete Games which provides once in a lifetime opportunities to meet and compete with athletes from all over the globe and to learn so much .

  27. Please correct me if I am wrong. I read where Sheldon Phillips was either demoted or given another portfolio, now in the accompanying caption, he was referred to as TTFA General Secretary….What’t the deal with that.MORE INCOMPETENCE ON THE BEHALF OF TTFA.?

  28. Someone just needs shut ’em down. They’re killing our players spirits.

  29. Jack Warner can likely write an excellent book on management efficiency as I understand he’s a very efficient manager. The ethics thing is another story entirely.

  30. Can somebody tell me why this ass still has a portfolio in the TTFA?

  31. THEY SHOULD JUST DIG A DEEP AND WIDE HOLE AND BURY THEMSELVES IN IT STEPPPPSSS WASTE AH FACKING TIME WITH THE FA

  32. I am leaning towards Paula Ayoung’s theory.

  33. sad to say eh, but this TTFA makes Jack Warner look like he could write a textbook on management efficiency and ethics

  34. It’s intentional because no one is capable of colossal screw ups like that one after the other after the other. Somebody has to start and somebody join in a lawsuit.

  35. That’s right Dr. Kenneth Ransome! TTFA is a sad sad state of affairs.

  36. No money to thief, that’s why!

  37. This is frigging nonsense. What the hell man?!

  38. Sigh when will good news ever cone out of this organization

  39. Once there is no way to abscond with a couple of $100K or more… ain’t nothing happening! Allyuh should know that by now. I used to believe that it was only poor leadership, marketing and management skills that these guys lack but it’s a lot more than incompetence and inexperience in these critical areas. It’s also severe integrity and ethical issues. It’s quite a disappointing shame.

  40. Always these Sporting Administrations, I am beginning to think if they are indeed envious of these talented youths SMH!!!

  41. What’s new . 2nd year running and he will get a 3rd and more.

  42. Can’t hit the like button for this one Mr. Phillips did it again no surprises here. Good job Wired868 shinning the light on sports in T&T