The Trinidad and Tobago National Futsal Team are in their last lap of preparations for the CONCACAF Futsal Championship play off qualifier against Honduras, which is scheduled for 4 and 6 May 2016 in Costa Rica.
However, while the Futsal team get ready on the field, the backdrop continues to be a muddled and mystifying fencing match between those charged with managing the local set-up.
National Futsal team coach Clayton Morris described the situation as extremely disappointing, as communication remains strained—at best—between the team’s management and the Futsal Association of Trinidad and Tobago (FATT).
The FATT’s self-declared president, Geoffrey Edwards, insisted that the local sporting body supports the efforts of the indoor team but have been kept at bay by Morris and team manager Ronald Brereton.
“The members of FATT, Kyle Lequay (Beach Soccer Association of Trinidad and Tobago President), Azaad Khan (General Secretary of TTFA) and myself, have worked assiduously to ensure that the (National) team participated in the CFU qualifiers in January 2016,” Edwards told Wired868. “At no point in time can anyone say that the FATT did not make any attempts to ensure that Trinidad and Tobago participated at the CFU tournament…
“Presently, the coach and manager have decided, in their own right to keep the necessary training details from the association (FATT). We have made numerous calls and sent numerous emails that have all gone unanswered.
“Yes, we can contact the players but we don’t think it’s the correct protocol.”
Morris, a former Trinidad and Tobago international outdoor captain and coach, confirmed that the national team management has withheld information from the governing body. But he countered that Edwards was yet to prove the legitimacy of his presidential title and those of his executive members.
The Futsal Association was accepted as an official member of the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) at an ordinary congress in February 2014.
Morris stated that prior to that congress, then TTFA president Raymond Tim Kee appointed a Futsal Steering Committee to oversee and construct the internal framework for FATT to operate as a fully fledged association.
Tim Kee, according to Morris, appointed Edwards and Morris as chairman and vice chairman respectively of the Futsal Steering Committee.
However, upon the TTFA’s acceptance of the Futsal Association under its umbrella in February 2014, Edwards claimed to have a received a document which addressed him as the FATT president.
“In February 2014, I received a letter addressed to me as president and that was signed by (then TTFA general secretary) Mr Sheldon Phillips,” Edwards told Wired868. “(…) I was then the only appointed member of the FATT. Because we were going through the transition from a Steering Committee to an association, that transition never was completed.
“The Steering Committee was dissolved and we are now at a point where we have to complete the constitution so that we can elect members like any new body. We have to complete the constitution first before we can elect members.”
Morris denied Edwards’ assertion and said he still considers the Steering Committee to be active but dormant. He also claimed that Edwards submitted a document to the TTFA which listed himself as president and named a board that included Nigel Roberts.
Roberts also identified himself as a FATT board member in a recent interview but subsequently corrected himself. Edwards said Roberts misspoke.
“I’m glad Mr Roberts quickly retracted the statement,” said Edwards. “As part of the draft constitution that was submitted to the TTFA, we identified individuals that we would like to be appointed to the Board of FATT and operate until the constitution is approved and we have elections.
“However, following on from the CONCACAF and TTFA constitutional reforms, we were guided (by the TTFA) that those persons could not be appointed.
“Only the President, (who is) myself, could operate as the appointed official and so we have been working on the constitution and the legal framework assiduously so as to elect members and a Board. We will have that in place before we officially roll out the FATT in the fourth quarter of 2016.”
Edwards declined to provide a copy of the TTFA document which recognised him as the FATT president and insisted that Wired868 should source the letter from the governing local football body instead.
However, nobody from the current or past TTFA executive seemed anxious to get involved.
Present TTFA general secretary Azaad Khan could not be reached for clarification while vice president Ewing Davis refused to comment.
Former general secretary, Phillips, said he would not make any public statement regarding a TTFA-related matter.
Despite uncertainty as to whether FATT could have a president or executive in place without a constitution or election, Edwards and Roberts voted—on Futsal’s behalf—at the TTFA general elections on 29 November 2015, which saw incumbent David John-Williams replace Tim Kee.
“I submitted two names (to the Electoral Committee), which were myself and Mr Nigel Roberts,” said Edwards. “Mr Roberts is the MA instructor for referees for Futsal in Trinidad and Tobago. In that regard, for transparency purposes, I submitted his name and it was accepted for him to be one of the two delegates.
“It was not rejected so we went ahead with the process of voting.”
Edwards declined to say which candidate the FATT supported.
The impasse, which has been left largely unchecked by John-Williams, has affected the mood around the National Futsal Team, as they prepare for their CONCACAF play off.
Edwards complimented the work done so far by Morris and his technical staff. But the feeling was not mutual.
Morris gave an example of the perceived shoddy treatment he and his staff receive from the governing body at present.
On 29 March 2016, Morris called the TTFA headquarters to ask if there was an invitation for the National Futsal staff to watch the “Soca Warriors” tackle St Vincent and the Grenadines that evening in Russia 2018 World Cup qualifying action at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain.
A TTFA employee replied in the affirmative and said an envelope was there with tickets and addressed to Morris.
Morris left his home in Chaguanas and travelled to the TTFA office at the Port of Spain venue. But, by the time he got there, the coach claimed that someone had changed the name on the envelope to “Geoffrey Edwards.”
The former “Strike Squad” star left Port of Spain empty handed and embarrassed and returned home.
It is, Morris claimed, symptomatic of the discourtesy meted out to the Futsal staff.
However, there was a welcome boost for the indoor team, which is captained by Defence Force midfielder Jerwyn Balthazar, with the recent announcement that they will get two training matches against Costa Rica in San Jose on April 27 and 29.
The Costa Rica Football Association will split the costs with the TTFA.
The warm-up matches should provide vital preparation for Trinidad and Tobago’s two-legged play off against Honduras. The play off winner will progress to the 2016 CONCACAF Futsal Championship Finals, where eight countries will compete for four qualifying spots at the Colombia 2016 FIFA Futsal World Cup.
Four wins at the CONCACAF Championship will see the “Futsal Warriors” secure an unprecedented World Cup berth.
Thus far, Futsal’s issues off the field have not been as straightforward.