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TTFA delays WPL endorsement; requests ‘transparency’ from Sport Ministry

Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) president Raymond Tim Kee said the local football body will delay its formal endorsement of the Ministry of Sport’s proposed Women’s Professional League (WPL) until it receives a formal proposal on the competition.

Sport Minister Brent Sancho made the WPL his most ambitious project when he was appointed in February 2015, although it has been met with mixed responses from football stakeholders and the general public.

Photo: Sport Minister Brent Sancho (centre) pays a visit to Bourg Mulatresse. (Courtesy SPORTT Company)
Photo: Sport Minister Brent Sancho (centre) pays a visit to Bourg Mulatresse.
(Courtesy SPORTT Company)

On Tuesday May 5, the Sport Ministry agreed to do an interactive chat on the WPL with members of the public but failed to show as readers demanded answers on the long-term viability of the project and criticised its timing and focus.

However, Tim Kee’s stance on the league—whose kick off has already been delayed from “late May” to “mid-June”—is likely to be seen as retort to the Sport Ministry over its refusal to fund the local football body in the absence of audited financial statements.

The TTFA president insisted that he was not using the WPL as leverage or being confrontational, but only needed information to report back to FIFA. And TTFA general secretary Sheldon Phillips claimed that he requested a written proposal on the league from Sport Ministry advisor Kevin Harrison weeks earlier.

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“FIFA asked about the league and they wanted more information on it,” Tim Kee told Wired868. “Up to this day, we have not seen anything in writing about it, like: how is it going to be operated and, very importantly, who the sponsors are… So, I sent a message today to the minister reminding him that those things need to be done for it to be sanctioned by the association.”

Thus far, Wired868 understands the WPL will comprise of six franchises—worth TT$350,000 each to investors—who will compete on community fields throughout the country. Admission is expected to be free for the maiden season.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago captain Maylee Attin-Johnson (left) tussles with United States attacker Alex Morgan (centre) while Tasha St Louis looks on during CONCACAF action in Kansas City. (Copyright Kyle Rivas/AFP 2014)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago captain Maylee Attin-Johnson (left) tussles with United States attacker Alex Morgan (centre) while Tasha St Louis looks on during CONCACAF action in Kansas City.
(Copyright Kyle Rivas/AFP 2014)

Shanghai Construction, Flow and NGC are said to be three of four companies who gave verbal commitments to the competition. The Ministry of Sport is said to be looking at importing players from the Caribbean, North America and even China to boost the quality of the competition while foreign coaches are also being sounded out.

However, Sancho denied the suggestion that the Sport Ministry did not provide the TTFA with a written proposal and claimed that All Sports director Anthony Harford, who is lending administrative advice to the WPL, forwarded a document to the football body last week. He also dismissed Phillips’ suggestion that he had made such a request of the Government.

“I’m a bit surprised that he still needs a proposal despite the fact that we have had several meetings with the WOLF administration inclusive of president Sharon O’Brien,” Sancho told Wired868. “I just spoke to Tony (Harford) and he said he sent them something in writing last week and they were supposed to come in to finalise it…

“Nobody from WOLF or (TTFA general secretary) Sheldon Phillips ever expressed any need for something in writing.”

Harford supported Sancho’s statement.

Photo: TTFA president Raymond Tim Kee (centre), ex-2006 World Cup player Brent Sancho (right) and TTFA general secretary Sheldon Phillips address the media during a happy moment between the trio in 2013. Sancho was announced as the Sport Minister in February 2015. (Courtesy Wired868)
Photo: TTFA president Raymond Tim Kee (centre), ex-2006 World Cup player Brent Sancho (right) and TTFA general secretary Sheldon Phillips address the media during a happy moment between the trio in 2013.
Sancho was announced as the Sport Minister in February 2015.
(Courtesy Wired868)

“I was asked by the Ministry of Sport to develop a proposal for them, which I did,” said Harford. “He asked me to speak to them independently about some of the problems they were having and I sent a copy to Sharon O’Brien… For Tim Kee to say he didn’t receive it is not exactly an ingenious statement.

“The Ministry asked me for a meeting last week to get it going to try and bring this matter to resolution. But Sheldon (Phillips) said he was not able to get the president’s consent to the meeting so it never happened.”

Trinidad and Tobago WOLF (Women’s League Football) president Sharon O’Brien confirmed receipt of Harford’s written proposal but could not verify whether it got to Tim Kee. She pointed that although she is a TTFA executive committee member and WOLF is an affiliate of the TTFA, there is a formal separation between the two bodies.

“Harford gave it to me as the president of WOLF and he indicated to me that he would send it to Mr Phillips and Mr Tim Kee,” she said. “WOLF is an affiliate of the TTFA but we are a separate body.”

The 2015 WOLF season was launched on Saturday May 9 but, with the WPL competition still in the formative stages, there is concern about disruptions to the WOLF competition as registered players are likely to be lured away for screening sessions with professional franchises or transferred. Several local clubs supposedly also raised the issue of compensation for their players.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago attacker Tasha St Louis (right) keeps the ball away from Costa Rica midfielder Katherine Alvarado during the 2014 CONCACAF Women's Championship semifinals in Chester, Pennsylvania. (Copyright Mitchell Leff/AFP 2014)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago attacker Tasha St Louis (right) keeps the ball away from Costa Rica midfielder Katherine Alvarado during the 2014 CONCACAF Women’s Championship semifinals in Chester, Pennsylvania.
(Copyright Mitchell Leff/AFP 2014)

“Basically, clubs want to know how are they going to be compensated for their players,” said O’Brien. “They wanted more detail on the movement of their players during that period, whether they will come back to clubs (for more players) when national team players leave (for the Pan American Games and Under-20 World Cup and Olympic qualifiers), if there is no financial benefit (to clubs) then what is going to trickle down to them for the players they developed…”

Harford is believed to have made some headway in allaying their concerns while the Sport Ministry, according to Sancho, agreed to give financial assistance to WOLF and some of its member clubs. One of the new proposals tabled is that the WPL and WOLF competitions will combine for double headers whenever possible.

Tim Kee expressed concern that players attached to United States universities might lose their scholarships if they competed in the WPL, although he said Sancho, a former St John’s University player and 2006 World Cup defender, assured him that no such risk would be taken.

Despite the unease between the two sporting bodies, Tim Kee insisted that he has no intention of being an impediment to the wellbeing of women’s footballers. He said he only wants the relationship between the TTFA and the Sport Ministry, with regards to the WPL, to be one of “transparency and accountability.”

Photo: TTFA president Raymond Tim Kee (centre) gestures to an Ecuador player while Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar (right) has a word to her grandson before kick off of the FIFA Play Off second leg on 2 December 2014. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: TTFA president Raymond Tim Kee (centre) gestures to an Ecuador player while Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar (right) has a word to her grandson before kick off of the FIFA Play Off second leg on 2 December 2014.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

“This isn’t a simple domestic league or a family thing in the back yard,” Tim Kee told Wired868. “I don’t see a problem because anything to do with the upliftment of football, I support it. It is just that things have to be done in a certain way…

“Everything must be predicated in transparency and accountability; and we want to strictly adhere to those processes in everything we do.”

Sancho and Tim Kee are due to meet later this week to discuss the TTFA’s financial situation and it is debatable as to which administrator would be on stronger footing.

Tim Kee said its audit was delayed due to missing information, which was on a computer seized by the 2006 World Cup players in 2012. Sancho was among the players who swooped down on the football body with a court-appointed marshall, due to unpaid debts.

The Sport Minister softened his tone slightly when asked if the Government would release funds to the TTFA before its audit is complete.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago scorer Kevin Molino (far left) leads teammates Hughtun Hector (second from left) and captain Kenwyne Jones (second from right) in a goal dance during 2014 Caribbean Cup qualifying action against Antigua and Barbuda. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago scorer Kevin Molino (far left) leads teammates Hughtun Hector (second from left) and captain Kenwyne Jones (second from right) in a goal dance during 2014 Caribbean Cup qualifying action against Antigua and Barbuda.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

“We expect to get the audit this week, so we will cross that bridge when we get there,” said Sancho. “They are now saying they have challenges (in completing the audit), so we want to get the information as relates to that.

“As far as we know, they were one week away from giving it to us, so I don’t know what has changed from then to now. The computer didn’t go missing after they spoke to me so why wasn’t it expressed then?

“We want to ensure that neither the men’s team or women’s team suffers but there must be an adherence and understanding of the policies that surround taxpayers’ dollars.”

About Lasana Liburd

Lasana Liburd
Lasana Liburd is the managing director and chief 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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114 comments

  1. Woow…very interesting …..hmmm

  2. …It is always perceived that the foreign coaches are more knowledgeable…and in some instances they are…but the local coaches Must Not Be Underestimated…they have paid their dues and earned their credentials as well…so they must be given the respect and the chances….if we are not careful some of these coaches will end up taking up positions in other Caribbean countries just like Jamaal Shabazz where they are treated much much better

  3. …Where that part is concerned Earl Mango Pierre…i agree…they should make a statement to the TTFA that they cannot be used and not paid for their services

  4. and furthermore all the coaches who are not getting paid but still coaching are dunces and they should never never talk about getting paid. steeuupsss. Them really good yes.

  5. Buh A A who ever said that Sancho was the sports minister at the time when Levi was benched eh, Them really good yes.

  6. Sancho was not the sport minister when Levi was benched in Jamaica. Because that was in January.
    But don’t let the facts stop you Earl Mango Pierre.
    And Derek and the minister are so close that he has never worked for Central, he isn’t being paid by the Sport Ministry and he still hasn’t gotten any per diem for coaching at the Concacaf u20 tournament.
    Apart from that, great theory. Carry on.

  7. The only schoolboy player who had a half decent tournament is Martieon Watson. All the others had massive drops in form since the Caribbean tournaments. And that includes Jabari Mitchell.
    Trinidad’s two most consistent attacking players were Aikim Andrews and Akeem Garcia who happen to be wingers just like Levi.
    King kept rotating and trying to coax Levi back in form. And it never happened.

  8. How am I protecting anyone’s interest if i say Levi played poorly? I can’t go against my own eyes to fit anyone’s narrative.
    I don’t know everything. But I was in Jamaica covering the tournament. So you don’t think I’m a better judge of how well he was playing than you?
    I never wrote a story on what happened in Belgium. The answer to that lies in the football calendar. Last August, women’s Caribbean cup, September U-20 Caribbean Cup, October Concacaf women’s and men’s Caribbean cup, November men’s Caribbean cup finals and women’s FIFA play off… And in between everything there was ssfl and pro league.
    Instead I summarized everything as disastrous when I mentioned his return.
    You’re free to say whatever you like. I don’t censor people once it isn’t libelous.
    But when I know the truth, I won’t stay silent just so that you can feel safe to repeat rumors mango.

  9. Lasana Liburd with all due respect I realize a very long time now you does feel that you know everything and you don’t and it seems that you are always protecting your interests eh, you does be exposing this one and the one eh, but you have yet to expose the reason your friend Coach Terry had to return to our sweet country with his tail between his legs eh, or do you want me to tell you and that also came from the horses mouth the sports minister but that is none of my business nah . Mr. Live Wire really good yes.

    • Well said Mango… as I point out long time, Lasana has an agenda. Same way he was quick to protect Atiba Charles, is the same way he trying to protect King. Same way he deliberately set this up as a ‘tit fot tat’ move by Tim Kee. I know for fact that the request was sent to Kevin Harrison over a week ago, they haven’t provided the TTFA with anything in writing. How is the TTFA supposed to sanction this proposed league and there is nothing concrete put forward by Sancho and them? What is going to happen to prospective US college athletes who play in this league… if not lose their amateur status? These things need to be addressed and vetted. There are legitimate concerns as was reflected in the heated discussions here on this site last week. This is no tit for tat. Stop playing smart with foolishness Lasana, yuh better than that… or at least yuh used to be.

  10. Like I said Earl Mango Pierre, Levi Garcia didn’t play on form. So it would be unfair to bring Derek King into that.
    King bent over backwards to utilize Levi from what I saw.

  11. Dion Sosa ah wonder if the certain minister is the present sports minister that you are speaking about eh, and the long time ex- national teammate is Derek King eh, you know how long now that I am saying that our bootleg Coaches doesn’t pick the players to play for our national teams eh. that corrupted Jack Warner use to do the same things yes, and ah wonder if my foreign base Coach Hart does have to do the same thing to eh Them really good yes.

  12. Mark them fellas walking around like they are angels and fooling people with their smiles and catchy words fooling woman and lavishing them with gifts and promises they have a certain grpup of idiots mesmorised

  13. Sosa, I covered the under-20 tournament in Jamaica and Levi’s form really was unrecognisable from his standard in the Caribbean tournament.
    I’m afraid it was the reverse. The coach kept persevering with him and hoping he would break out of his slump. And he never did.
    There is no conspiracy there. Levi had a poor tournament.

  14. …Hear nah….i will LOVE for these files to come out and I personally will like to look some of these people in their face after just to see their reaction because they looking down on others pretending that they “Holier than thou”

  15. That is only he tip of the ice berg it have real files still 2 buss about our honourable minister and his sidekick chez whitney

  16. …Is that so….Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat

  17. Imagine because levi garcia stand up 2 them and challenge his validity of his contract and got out of central a certain minister call a shot with he longtime ex national teammate 2 sabotage the u20 campaign by getting payback on levi by ebnching and frustrating him all tournament well done big man its good 2 see the lengths we adults go 2 ruin youths take a bow

  18. Hmmm if they are undermining the work of the TTFA, then expose them. But the TTFA have a tendency to hand them stones to pelt at them, they need to put their house in order.

  19. My sentiments exactly Mystique.

  20. Tim Kee asking for ‘Transparency”. Things to make one cry making me laugh.Real irony!!!.Fed up of the masquerade!!!.

  21. could somebody anybody tell me if these young ladies get pay playing in the WOLF league?
    “Basically, clubs want to know how are they going to be compensated for their players” in footballing terms compensate there means $$$$$$ correct me if i’m wrong.

  22. I now start!! They get me mad!! The videos of they deceitfull behavor, snapshot of they messages and pictures of they late night meetings to come wait!!

  23. Oh Lawd well continue exposing nah Gordon Pierre. Them really good yes.

  24. The sponsors of the women league well reveal alot!! I hope they know bc tax payers money is being used that bc of the public information act the public will have assess to amount of money spent and to whom

  25. The TTFA has been undermine by persons seeking position!! The pp government have recommended two individuals Mr Hardford and another owner of a cable tv provider as ttfa president!!

  26. Ppl lets wake!! I will start to expose these jokers in the football!! Remember who was blacklisted by the former pp sports minister??Anthony Hardford!! Who brokered the settlement with the 13 Soca warriors and the government? Anthony Hardford!! Who brokered the deal with the national team when they threaten to boycott CFU finals?? Hardford and Sancho!! Who incited the women to protest just 2 weeks after Dec2nd for match fees? Sancho!! This whole women league is pay back!! The meetings in the oval ,star hotels and offices in woodbrook is the result we see today!! The exposia has began

  27. Pot telling kettle he ass black.

  28. [fool] – noun

    1. a silly or stupid person; a person who lacks judgment or sense.

    2. a professional jester, formerly kept by a person of royal or noble rank for amusement.

    A professional jester indeed.

  29. Half time….nah man this is a longgggg overtime

  30. Bachanal now start or am I late?

  31. And of course, the real sufferers are the women footballers.

  32. Can I call Tim Kee a fool Lasana?

  33. Lol let me know when it’s over.

  34. I think they’re heading to the halftime interval.

  35. all you keep your eyes on the money sancho is one ah them just now that money will go missing, ask some of the coaches

  36. Kamla and Rowley in print! Tit for tat, do for do…

  37. Steups is two idiots playing keep up

  38. I laughed at first too Brian but then I got pissed because he’s insulting the intelligence of anyone reading this nonsense.

  39. Wait all the time I’m thinking that this new women’s league is replacing the old one they had. Now fully understand this clash. That does’t sound very smart – looks like unnecessary confusion…oh dear

  40. Kendall.. i wonder if he said “transparency and accountability” with a straight face. Reading it got me my best laugh of the day!!

  41. “Everything must be predicated in transparency and accountability; and we want to strictly adhere to those processes in everything we do.” Tim Kee ……did I read right ? I am eagerly awaiting these audited accounts . I offered to help them put it together but no response . No wonder the Auditors are having a hard time completing it.

  42. Steups no wonder sports in this country on a treadmill.

  43. “It is just that things have to be done in a certain way…. Everything must be predicated in transparency and accountability; and we want to strictly adhere to those processes in everything we do.”

    If that is not the most ridiculous case of pot calling kettle black, I don’t know what is. Is he for real?

  44. TTFA asking for transparency ? I must have missed something

  45. Scotty Ranking

    Like we couldn’t see this coming … Tit for tat, butter for fat. Without an official sanction by FIFA through the TTFA, WOLF might as well be a small goal competition at Speyside.