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T&T Futsal Warriors beaten by Honduras but embarrassed by their own FA

Trinidad and Tobago’s fanciful drive toward the Colombia 2016 FIFA Futsal World Cup ended on the night of 5 May 2016, after a 5-3 loss to Honduras at a CONCACAF Play Off contest in Costa Rica.

But the humiliation, according to the players and staff, was dished out by their own association, the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA).

Photo: The Trinidad and Tobago National Futsal Team poses for a photograph before their CONCACAF Play Off against Honduras un May 2016. (Courtesy TTFA Media)
Photo: The Trinidad and Tobago National Futsal Team poses for a photograph before their CONCACAF Play Off against Honduras un May 2016.
(Courtesy TTFA Media)

The “Futsal Warriors” reached tipping point this morning when they had to pack their bags, check out and wait in the lobby with no idea as to where they would go next, while rival teams walked past the curious sight. The TTFA had not booked a room for their final night’s stay although their flight from Costa Rica leaves at 3.19 pm on Saturday May 7.

TTFA interim general secretary Azaad Khan was not at the office when Wired868 called and could not be reached on his mobile phone. And president David John-Williams did not respond to questions on the team’s treatment.

TTFA operations assistant Richard Piper, who eventually got the Futsal team rebooked at the Wyndham Hotel, said he was not sure what went wrong.

“I got involved with (this matter) late last night after the qualifying game,” said Piper. “To be honest, I don’t know where the ball was dropped.”

Piper said John-Williams had the money transferred to the official’s credit card today to pay for an extra night’s stay for the squad.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) president David John-Williams (right) presents a Wired868 token of appreciation to "Soca Warriors" supporter Peter Cumberbatch during the 4th Annual Wired868 Football Festival at UWI SPEC Grounds, St Augustine on Saturday 2 January 2016. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/CA-images/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) president David John-Williams (right) presents a Wired868 token of appreciation to “Soca Warriors” supporter Peter Cumberbatch during the 4th Annual Wired868 Football Festival at UWI SPEC Grounds, St Augustine on Saturday 2 January 2016.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/CA-images/Wired868)

John-Williams’ hands-on role has already raised eyebrows, as the TTFA’s constitution doesn’t allow an executive president but places the general secretary in charge of the local football body. But coach Clayton “JB” Morris’ problem with the TTFA president is something different entirely.

“We are very disappointed,” said Morris, a former international stand-out and captain of the 1989 “Strike Squad” team. “I told you from day one that they seem to have something with this staff and the team has had to suffer because of it.”

Morris claimed John-Williams was infuriated by his previous interview with Wired868 when he questioned the legitimacy of Futsal Association president, Geoffrey Edwards, who had not been elected for his post while the body was not properly constituted.

Edwards voted at the TTFA elections last year and Morris suggested that John-Williams might be more inclined to side with Edwards as a result.

“We are expecting when they return us they will give us the red card,” said Morris, in reference to himself and team manager Ronald Brereton. “Because we know if they let Geoffrey go, he could embarrass the president.”

Photo: Futsal Association president Geoffrey Edwards. (Courtesy Geoffrey Edwards)
Photo: Futsal Association president Geoffrey Edwards.
(Courtesy Geoffrey Edwards)

It is uncertain how John-Williams feels about the fractured relationship between the Futsal head coach and president. But, so far, there has been little love lost between the TTFA boss and the squad either.

Morris said neither John-Williams nor his vice-presidents, Joanne Salazar, Ewing Davis and Allan Warner, visited the team once, since he came to power last November—even Sport Minister Darryl Smith came out to one training session.

And, although the team was thrilled that the TTFA accepted an offer by Costa Rica to host the Futsal Warriors for a training camp, there were more cons than pros, according to Morris.

Even as John-Williams’ boasted about the supposed financial stability of the TTFA under his watch, the Futsal Warriors travelled to Costa Rica without a goalkeeper coach and equipment manager and with used uniforms, worn shoes and, arguably worst of all, a per diem of US$10 per day for players—US$20 per diem for staff—and no match fee.

Morris had requested US$40 per diems plus US$200 match fees. The trip was funded by the Sport Ministry too, although it is still uncertain whether or not the State provided money to cover per diems and the extra day at the hotel.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago National Futsal Team player Jameel Neptune (left) heads the ball during training at the Maloney Indoor Complex. (Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/CA-images/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago National Futsal Team player Jameel Neptune (left) heads the ball during training at the Maloney Indoor Complex.
(Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/CA-images/Wired868)

“One of the players refused to even take the per diem,” Morris told Wired868. “US$10 per day?! These are big men with families and some of them are professionals (with Pro League clubs).

“When I played on the national team, 30 years ago, that was what I got. And we were not professionals…

“These guys trained for four days a week, three hours a day for four months. I asked for TT$50 a day stipend for travelling (to training) and we never got it… And you are giving them US$10 a day per diem?!”

Trinidad and Tobago goalkeeper Kevin Graham, who is a corporal with the Defence Force, said the older players had to urge the younger ones not to take the slight to heart.

“When we went to Cuba (for the Caribbean qualifying series in January 2016), the per diem was US$20 which wasn’t what the players expected,” said Graham, “but we accepted it with hope of it being improved by this trip (for the CONCACAF Play Offs).

“Then, we came here and it was US$10. It is embarrassing for big men with families when you look at the training we put out to get here.

Photo: Kareem Perry (centre) and his teammates juggle the ball during Trinidad and Tobago National Futsal Team practice in March 2016. (Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/CA-images/Wired868)
Photo: Kareem Perry (centre) and his teammates juggle the ball during Trinidad and Tobago National Futsal Team practice in March 2016.
(Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/CA-images/Wired868)

“When the junior players got it, they ran to us and asked what is this? Is this what we came for?

“We had to try and encourage them to study the football and not take it on.”

Graham pointed out that, as a full-time soldier, it was much easier for him to take the per diem in stride. But he empathised with some of his teammates who did not have regular jobs.

“I am very patriotic as a soldier,” he said. “I am country first (and) I love the game of futsal. But at the end of the day, we have players who don’t have jobs here and it is very hard on them.

“They put a lot of time into it and to get nothing back is hard for them.”

Graham was the team’s stand out for their opener against Honduras, as they drew 1-1 on Wednesday night. But he made two errors in their 5-3 defeat on Thursday.

Morris again lamented the TTFA’s decision not to send a goalkeeper coach with the squad, even when the technical staff asked for permission to raise the necessary funds themselves.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago National Futsal Team coach Clayton Morris (left) gesticulates during an interview with Wired868 reporter Amiel Mohammed (centre) at the Maloney Indoor Sport Arena. (Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/CA-images/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago National Futsal Team coach Clayton Morris (left) gesticulates during an interview with Wired868 reporter Amiel Mohammed (centre) at the Maloney Indoor Sport Arena.
(Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/CA-images/Wired868)

It was a similar story with footwear, as Morris claimed John-Williams did not sign off on a request for new shows from TTFA sponsor, Juma.

“We didn’t have proper footwear,” said the Futsal coach. “Graham still had on the one from Cuba and it was taped up. And that is what he saved with on Wednesday.

“On Thursday, I asked the manager what was his (shoe) size and he said 11. I asked Graham and he said 11 and a half. And I had him borrow the manager’s shoes.

“We are doing this for our country and we are all sacrificing. But what is the association doing for our players?”

Unlike their opponents, Trinidad and Tobago does not have a Futsal league and most of Morris’ players spend more time on the outdoor game.

Team captain and Defence Force midfielder Jerwyn “Bally” Balthazar debuted for the Trinidad and Tobago National Senior Team earlier this year while Kerry Joseph (Defence Force), Jameel Neptune (Morvant Caledonia United) and Bevon Bass (Point Fortin Civic) are all attached to Pro League teams.

Photo: Morvant Caledonia United utility player Jameel Neptune (left) takes on Defence Force player Curtis Gonzales during Lucozade Sport Goal Shield quarterfinal action on 9 April 2016. Morvant Caledonia won 5-1. (Courtesy Nicholas Bhajan/Wired868)
Photo: Morvant Caledonia United utility player Jameel Neptune (left) takes on Defence Force player Curtis Gonzales during Lucozade Sport Goal Shield quarterfinal action on 9 April 2016.
Morvant Caledonia won 5-1.
(Courtesy Nicholas Bhajan/Wired868)

But Morris, who began coaching the team in 2004, believes the team can be a force in the region with preparation and a local league.

He praised their training stint in Costa Rica, where they were exposed to proper facilities. The UWI SPEC Indoor Facility is the only venue suitable for the sport in Trinidad and Tobago.

“The players should be exposed to trips like this, maybe two or three times for the year,” said Morris. “The games here showed we are improving as we go along and we shouldn’t be in that position.

“We lost the game against Honduras in the last two minutes. But the guys accomplished so much here.”

Balthazar said they played to appreciative crowds in Costa Rica and there were plenty positives that they should be able to take away from their Central American adventure.

Photo: Defence Force captain and midfielder Jerwyn Balthazar on the ball during action in the Lucozade Sport Goal Shield quarterfinal against Morvant Caledonia United on 9 April 2016. Morvant Caledonia United won 5-1. (Courtesy Nicholas Bhajan/Wired868)
Photo: Defence Force captain and midfielder Jerwyn Balthazar on the ball during action in the Lucozade Sport Goal Shield quarterfinal against Morvant Caledonia United on 9 April 2016.
Morvant Caledonia United won 5-1.
(Courtesy Nicholas Bhajan/Wired868)

“People respected us and treated us well over here, more than home,” said Balthazar, who was the tournament’s leading scorer in the Caribbean phase. “I could hear the Spanish fans calling my name and it was a nice feeling and atmosphere. Futsal is a big thing over here… I would like to see our association support futsal.

“I think this is something we can really strive in. Everyone is seeing it except our own (people).”

The Futsal Warriors were ranked 59th in the world—sandwiched between Canada (58) and England (60)—before their two-legged Play Off contest, although they dropped to 68th today.

Balthazar does not know what is next for the game when they return home.

“It didn’t finish on a nice note,” said the National Futsal Team captain. “We didn’t know where we would staying until after lunch, the fellahs got 10 US a day…

“I don’t know about the future of futsal right now. With that treatment, I am not sure what will happen now.

“This is the third time I am playing (international) futsal and the level the team reached (in this trip), it’s the best football I have seen from us. But what will be, will be.”

Photo: Honduras prepare to take a set piece during CONCACAF Play Off action against Trinidad and Tobago on 5 May 2016. Honduras won 6-4 on aggregate to advance. (Courtesy TTFA Media)
Photo: Honduras prepare to take a set piece during CONCACAF Play Off action against Trinidad and Tobago on 5 May 2016.
Honduras won 6-4 on aggregate to advance.
(Courtesy TTFA Media)

Trinidad and Tobago Starting Team: 1.Kevin Graham (GK), 3.Cyrano Glen, 8.Jerwyn Balthazar, 9.Kerry Joseph, 5.Noel Williams.

Substitutes: 2.Adrian Pirthysingh (GK), 14.Keston Guy (GK), 4.Bevon Bass, 6.Ishmael Daniel, 7.Jameel Neptune, 10.Colin Joseph, 11.Kevaughn Connell, 12.Kareem Perry, 13.Jamel Lewis.

Head Coach: Clayton Morris.

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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74 comments

  1. Still happening?! Yet we wonder and condemn players for shelving passion for the game (whatever the sport)and national pride and seeking money first.

  2. U see this and more will always happen cause TRINIBAGOIANS will always talk no bite they don’t care and don’t take things to heart no fight in them believe in God then Stand up for Wat is right if we continue to play de ass we will always be like this carb in a bucket

  3. When will this embarrassment end.

  4. Want to solve criminal activities… Start by hanging a politician or two at once?…you will see a immediate down ?in crime?

  5. $10 usd per day? They planned to stay on the beach and drink water all day?

  6. we need to get back some money from life sport …no one looking out for the young ones ….them politicians who are corrupt need jail

  7. Saaadddd%–$@@&-:;;:%&&:”!!!

  8. Muh boi tech no.6 still went to rep tnt n bethel world outreach ministries

  9. None of these orgs have sports best interest. O nly there interest or bank acc interest.

  10. Another sad blow in tnt sports. Jack Warner standards. …. take as much as you can and let the athletes suffer. …

  11. Pls explain to me what is futsal in the world of sports? Also, the saga continues with the ttfa; new leader/s, same ish, no change in karma. It is like we on the same spot marking time. When will it all end?!. And we blame the young generation for lack of being constructive, but yet we hesitate to assist and support. Go figure!!!!

  12. Oh lord when is this type of thing going to end , why do the people in charge keep allowing our sports men and women to get humiliated over and over again , come on enough is enough.

  13. All these local associations are about power first and the sport after. Arrogant men and women who are looking for their own Fiefdom.

  14. So all administrations continue to embarrass our ambassadors??? OK THEN!!!!!! So it’s a game???? ALRIGHT ALRIGHT I SEE!! #ICant

  15. Darryl Smith what do you have to say about that

    • He is the Minister of Sports for Trinidad & Tobago. . Not the president/ Treasurer of every sporting organisation..We always have a sob story. Go out and do better.

  16. The more things are said to have changed , the more they remain the same.

  17. we want we centre of excellence back

  18. My question is quite simple where is the money? These organisations draw on tax payers money and they account to no one.

  19. The WICB, TTGF, TTOC, now TTFA… these administrations all want the glory but don’t know how to treat the players and extended support team properly. #InternationalShame

  20. Why this shit keeps happening. ..geez bai

  21. Ah taught Timkee was the problem

  22. Pressure makes diamonds keep fighting SOCA warriors.

  23. They did their under the conditions and LOST miserably. Learn from the mistakes, Time to now move on with optimism, life is to short to cry over ‘spilt milk’.

  24. Allyuh realise John-Williams is the common denominator right? Walkes spoke about his dictatorial ways,now we’re hearing from Clayton Morris about the vindictiveness of the man, even prior to that was his role in how Brian Williams was appointed as the U20 coach. So in a country of 1.3 million people it’s impossible to find athlete centred administrators who just want to do what’s right( with no agenda?) Na man! This man talk all kind of nice talk when he accepted the post(rhetoric) but we’re now seeing the true nature of the beast. Allyuh I ain’t waiting into….DJW out! NOW! Enough is enough man!

    • Oh and Lasana you do realise any difficult questions you pose to the guy now are met with “no comment” right? So we could add cowardice to the list too. One set ah bogus people at the helms in this country yes! Steeuuuups!

  25. Warren Edwards, what is this?
    Not a good look, especially in the midst of the Gymnastics fiasco.

  26. Hannibal Najjar

    Then, do not go with these arrangement! And PLEASE, do not tell me we did not know this before hand!

  27. Only in Trinidad and Tobago we keep allowing these things to go under the carpet. Why? Who is listening? Who is taking note? Yet we want to reach on the map with this sort of treatment. For too long the’ heads that be’ are fighting down each other and not thinking about the players, the ones doing the work. Shame, Shame, Shame. Here we go again and we will just stay quiet and let others continue to take this treatment. Boys well done especially under those circumstances and with everything else in Trinidad you gotta to look to God for your reward. Waste ah time here in Trinidad!!!!! No motivation to do anything.

  28. Thats down rite embarrassing for an international team… the ttfa cant be serious

  29. The need was for CHANGE, instead we got EXCHANGE, or probably SMALL CHANGE, from Tim KEY to Hard LOCK,..there seems to be a serious problem with sports administrators in this country, we just recently experienced the most manipulative corrupted, deceptive executive in GYMNASTICS, the TTGF, we had serious problems in soccer (football), the President was removed, got a new President who professed CHANGE, the only change we got was the size of the new guy, in CRICKET, problems both in the WICB and WIPA. Seems as though we need a SHRINK attached to the ministry of sports to prepare prospective candidates’ heads for the Presidency of any sport in this country, it is a frustrating, shameful and disgusting situation for which there seems, no solution.

  30. TTFA will have the locus standi to claim an interest in the facility

  31. There IS a Futsal facility in Macoya!!!!!!

  32. FIFA gave money to Jack to build Futsal Facility in Macoya

  33. So why the Players complaining for eh, and they also know that they will always go thru that madness eh, it seems that the Coach himself has amnesia eh steeuupppss Them really good yes.

  34. Sad, always dropping the ball

  35. To give you an idea of the size difference; a basketball court is 28x15m (420 sq.m.) and a Futsal court is 40x20m (800sq.m.). This is nearly twice the size. As well as this, the penalty area on a Futsal court is vastly bigger.Mar 7, 2013
    This can be found on any official web site on the game

  36. Did anybody listen to the coach he said they were practicing and training on the wrong size field. Than what they had to play on in Costa Rica. Shame

  37. Congratulations to these guys for getting as far as they did in this tournament…

  38. I always wondered why there isn’t a co-ordinating body, in the same way we have event planners who are specialists, rather than having our athletes and country facing such embarrassment on what is becoming a frequent basis.

  39. no he just like 2 expose who on real shit

  40. OK I’ve had enough of this. Who or what represents the athletes? This is getting damn ridiculous now. Lasana I feel ah change meh mind oui. Going to set up an organization to represent players and athletes in every sporting aspect possible. Nah man ah shame, shame for this country. Too many embarrassments, Insults and poor management

  41. Kirwin,I feel lasana does work for Andrews yes

  42. Steupse, boy look eh. Why you like to send people to bed vex man ?

  43. Absolutely crazy. Jack warner Part Deux perhaps? Just a slightly different incarnation.