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DJW flexes muscles: TTFA president allegedly slights Hart on training ground

Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) president David John-Williams has been accused of an extraordinary slight on National Senior Team coach Stephen Hart, after the newly elected official allegedly tried to arrange an exhibition match for the “Soca Warriors” behind the coach’s back.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago coach Stephen Hart reacts to the final whistle in the 2016 Copa America play off contest at the Rommel Fernandez Stadium, Panama City on 8 January 2016. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/CA-images/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago coach Stephen Hart reacts to the final whistle in the 2016 Copa America play off contest at the Rommel Fernandez Stadium, Panama City on 8 January 2016.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/CA-images/Wired868)

John-Williams, who replaced Raymond Tim Kee as TTFA president on 29 November 2015, allegedly walked on to the field during a national training session at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva yesterday and asked Hart and his coaching staff to let him talk with the players alone.

Then John-Williams, according to two members of the squad who spoke on condition of anonymity, asked the players if they were willing to play a fourth international exhibition game against Equatorial Guinea, after three fixtures against Peru, Uruguay and China on May 23 and 27 and June 3 respectively.

Remarkably, the TTFA president’s approach to the players is believed to have followed Hart’s refusal to play that fourth fixture.

The Warriors play in Lima on May 23 and Montevideo on May 27 before jetting to China for a game in Qin Huang Dao on June 3.

The proposed exhibition with Equatorial Guinea in Port of Spain, according to the source, was set to be penciled in within a week of the China clash. However, Hart is believed to have been apprehensive about belatedly squeezing in a fourth fixture after such an arduous travel schedule.

Photo: W Connection owner David John-Williams (second from left), coach Stuart Charles-Fevrier (centre) and defender Joel Russell (far left) say a prayer of thanks after securing the 2013/14 Pro League trophy at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva. John-Williams was elected as TTFA president in November 2015. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: W Connection owner David John-Williams (second from left), coach Stuart Charles-Fevrier (centre) and defender Joel Russell (far left) say a prayer of thanks after securing the 2013/14 Pro League trophy at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva.
John-Williams was elected as TTFA president in November 2015.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

John-Williams, according to one player, attempted to show Hart who was boss by ignoring the chain of command and approaching the players directly.

Eight of the current training squad are trying to break into the World Cup squad and some of the players allegedly told the TTFA president that they were willing to play. However, senior players requested more time for the team to make a collective decision.

The players subsequently emailed John-Williams to say they did not want the match.

Hart, who was selected on CONCACAF’s Coach of the Year shortlist for two of the last three years, refused comment on the incident and declined to confirm or deny whether it indeed took place. And John-Williams did not respond to our request for comment.

However, if true, the TTFA president might have hit a new low and crossed a line that even his most controversial predecessors avoided.

Disgraced ex-FIFA vice-president and TTFA special advisor Jack Warner was known to interfere with team selection and tactics. However, Warner was not known to do so in front of the players.

Photo: Coach Bertille St Clair (second from right) has a word with (from right) Shaka Hislop, Stern John, Michael Maurice, David Nakhid, Leslie Fitzpatrick and Clayton Ince during his stint with the Trinidad and Tobago National Senior team. (Copyright AFP 2015)
Photo: Coach Bertille St Clair (second from right) has a word with (from right) Shaka Hislop, Stern John, Michael Maurice, David Nakhid, Leslie Fitzpatrick and Clayton Ince during his stint with the Trinidad and Tobago National Senior team.
(Copyright AFP 2015)

Former football president Oliver Camps once famously tried to speak to then national coach Bertille St Clair on the training ground, over a decade ago. St Clair asked Camps to leave at once and, subsequently, informed him that the football field was the coach’s domain and should be respected as such.

John-Williams, who has already sacked his technical director Kendall Walkes and replaced women’s coach Randy Waldrum, apparently has no intention of recognising such boundaries, or the authority of his head coach, Hart, either.

Ironically, the TTFA president assured Wired868, in an interview before the 2015 TTFA elections, that he would not try to interfere with team selection or impose himself on the national coach.

“Any coach who is worth his salt will not function under a process like that,” said John-Williams, in an interview published on 26 November 2015. “The coach is responsible for the results of the team, so how can I go in the dressing room and tell the coach who to pick when he is responsible for the result?

“(…) I won’t impose myself on Stephen Hart or any other coach. For sure, I won’t.”

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago head coach Stephen Hart makes a point during a training session in Sao Paulo in June 2014. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/TTFA Media)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago head coach Stephen Hart makes a point during a training session in Sao Paulo in June 2014.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/TTFA Media)

Incidentally, John-Williams only formally met with the National Senior Team for the first time during the current camp. It is also the first time that neither team captain Kenwyne Jones nor vice-captain Jan-Michael Williams were involved in the national set-up.

John Williams, who is also the owner of the W Connection football club, sacked Williams (JM), three years ago, after a dressing room fall-out between the goalkeeper and club coach Stuart Charles-Fevrier.

Jones and the TTFA president are also believed to have clashed over business relating to the former’s transfer out of the club.

(Trinidad and Tobago squad)

Goalkeepers: Marvin Phillip (Morvant Caledonia United), Adrian Foncette (Police FC), Glenroy Samuel (North East Stars);

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago and Morvant Caledonia United goalkeeper Marvin Phillip. (Courtesy CONCACAF)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago and Morvant Caledonia United goalkeeper Marvin Phillip.
(Courtesy CONCACAF)

Defenders: Aubrey David (Saprissa FC—Costa Rica), Alvin Jones, Daneil Cyrus, Triston Hodge (all W Connection), Weslie John (CD Universidad—El Salvador), Curtis Gonzales (Defence Force), Yohance Marshall (Murcielagos FC—Mexico), Andre Ettienne (Central FC), Radanfah Abu Bakr (HB Koge—Denmark);

Midfielders: Hughtun Hector (W Connection), Andre Boucaud (Dagenham & Redbridge—England), Leston Paul (Central FC), Khaleem Hyland (KVC Westerlo—Belgium);

Attacking midfielders: Jomal Williams (W Connection), Levi Garcia (AZ Alkmaar—Netherlands), Sean De Silva (Central FC), Nathan Lewis (San Juan Jabloteh);

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago winger Levi Garcia (right) leaves St Vincent and the Grenadines right back Akeem Williams in his wake during Russia 2018 World Cup qualifying action at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, Port of Spain on 29 March 2016. Trinidad and Tobago won 6-0. (Courtesy: Nicholas Bhajan/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago winger Levi Garcia (right) leaves St Vincent and the Grenadines right back Akeem Williams in his wake during Russia 2018 World Cup qualifying action at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, Port of Spain on 29 March 2016.
Trinidad and Tobago won 6-0.
(Courtesy: Nicholas Bhajan/Wired868)

Forwards: Willis Plaza (Alianza FC—El Salvador), Shahdon Winchester (W Connection), Makesi Lewis (Police FC);

Additions for China match: Carlyle Mitchell (Seoul E Land—Korea Republic), Marcus Joseph (Central FC).

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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192 comments

  1. Mr. William stop being a bully and a menace to people who are striving for excellent for the people of TnT. The Team was doing great before you got into office. Coach Hart and his staff know what it takes to prepare a team for World–Cup qualification tournament. Why are you trying to get between the players and Coach? If the Coach say no, then accept his judgment? Can you see the chemistry that Hart and his staff have developed with the members of the squad. They are the ones who have this country’s flag flying high again, and the stakeholders of football and the supports of the game in Trinidad are 100% behind the Team.
    You, Mr. John-Williams are way out of order. If you don’t know how to handle or manage the position into which you were voted, please step aside and let someone with the know-how do the job, before you inflict more damage to Trinidad and Tobago’s football and before it gets too late.
    It seem to me that you don’t have the people skills requisite for the post which you now occupy. I hope the rank and file who voted in the T&TFA election are paying attention to all the red flags currently issued to this John-Williams regime.
    Coach Hart, this current situation should not be new to you. Think back to 1978 youth team. I hope you remember what took place then. Continue to stay above the petty politics and let’s hope and pray that ‘le Presidente’ does not replace you, while going through his “Emperor’s New Clothes syndrome’.

  2. I hear all d comments but I will always say let’s put d game first and most definitely I will have to tell d president that he needs to b more open to d public! His media policy is wack and that’s not a pitch for d press officer job!! Lol

  3. I’m saddened to read David John Williams words which are unnecessarily bellicose .. He could be more welcoming as the TTFA has a terrible reputation as an organisation. John Williams must realise that the TTFA need as much support as possible. He is isolating an organisation that already inspire very little confidence among football fans..I just cannot understand why he is fighting when no one seems to picking a fight.. Reports of him attempting to organise games without the coaches approval is 100% wrong and I hope Hart told him in no uncertain terms that will not be tolerated by him ( if these reports are true ). So here we are again talking about administrators and their failings.. Administrators in Trinidad and Tobago think they’re more important than they really are. They are deluded. The order of importance are.. The manager, the players, the fans, the sponsors and THEN the administrators. The problem we have is that people with the ambition to get into these positions talk a good game but very rarely deliver it. They dupe is all into believing they are the answer to the many problems. I call them practice champs.. Maybe John Williams will get it right.. Time will judge his tenure.. But at present this situation is quite disheartening..

    • Kelvin….you have hope that DJW will change .for the good..for some of us we hope he does not get any worse …..

    • Kelvin Jack I give blame to yourself, the ex corrupted Sports Minister and Shaka Hislop for all the madness that is still taking place eh, because had you guys make certain that the Players Association was up and running even if you all had other agendas to move on with you all lives eh, the present president would have been surely towing the line and doing the right things eh, but thank the Lord that my players now really understand that they themselves have to take a stand eh, and Coach Hart made the right choice by walking away and letting the players make their own decisions and let the president look like a fool eh, plus he doesn’t want to end up like the ex Technical Sports Director eh, so he used his wisdom because he isn’t going and give up on his vision as to where he wants to take our sweet country and that is once again to be the real power house in football in the Caribbean and also to qualify for another World Cup eh, and this time he will be doing it thru the front door and not the back door eh anyway David John-williams will definitely get it right because my monies is still on him to be the first ever TTFA president to finally get my greatest football team in the universe Brazil to finally come to our country eh, and also I am not giving up on the Players Association that will finally be up and running in a timing eh in our sweet country. Them really good yes.

    • Earl.. I do partly agree with you that maybe I could have been more pro active in Trinidad and Tobago football.. I am becoming more active as you would hopefully see soon. I’m still only one person but the dead wood and useless ones need to be removed. We have a big problem not only on football but in sports..

    • Quite true Kelvin. Too many people with personal agendas do more harm than good to the sports they profess to love.

  4. And of course it will always be a blast every year eh, because many of them cannot handle the Truth, by the way yuh ready for a rematch or what eh ah promise that I will be bringing my girls team so at least you will be able to finally win a game eh my friend for life. Hahahaha

  5. Up to him. We try not to discriminate against people who contributed to the game. It’s a blast every year regardless.

  6. Ah hope that he doesn’t do like the ex mayor/ex president of the TTFA Tim Kee eh, when you started to expose him to eh, and he never returned to any more wired football festival eh. I will never understand why these fellas just cannot do the right things for our football eh. Them really good yes.

  7. That’s the thing Kendall. These clowns are acting like we are making up these issues.
    In fact, David was the only candidate to got a feature story in Wired868 before the election.
    And there was never an issue there before.
    But his attitude has been found wanting. He is the one who picked this route for himself.

  8. Well the only organization that can helped the TTFA right now eh is wired 868 eh because it have plenty folks with plenty monies in including meh self eh, but until they do the right things by our Coaches,players , our sweet country and the beautiful game eh, we are not helping them et all eh. Them really good yes.

  9. Remember that conversation we had a while back Lasana where we dicussed getting others involved to provide support to the TTFA in moving forward? We speculated that it would be easy to find business professionals to assist in that aspect if they were receptive to the idea. I think we can safely forget that now. You cannot help someone who doesn’t want help and thinks that they know best.

  10. The president said listening to anyone else will make him a puppet yes.
    Gestapo missing one with that kind of thinking yes. What happening to the consultative approach necessary to take the game forward?

  11. Meh cuzz Gordon Pierre well yuh better tell the president to stop his madness eh, if yuh want niceness and not negativity eh and ah mean as Dennis Allen said that he said that he was going and make changes eh, but not that madness disrespecting my real foreign Base Coach Hart eh, and as I said before that the only changes that he have to make is to make certain that the corrupted TTFA find the monies and pay all my coaches and players that they are owing eh and continue to do so with the present coaches and players and everything will be nice and that was the only reason why we voted for him eh, but the way he is behaving like the Ayatola eh, best we had voted Derrick Murray eh, or Bruce Aanensen shudda also enter the race eh, and a bet alyuh that all this madness wudda never be taking place eh, steeuuppss .Them really good yes.

  12. News flash Gordon. West Indies cricket is one foot off the bottom of the Test rankings.
    Trinidad football has its best chance of a World Cup spot in a decade. So keep allyuh David Cameron WICB thinking away please.
    Tell your president. Once there is stuff worth discussing. I will discuss.
    Best way to quiet me is to go by the constitution, respect your staff and do the right thing.

  13. Yeah. We want football to be like cricket eh? ?

  14. Haa! @ “Cricket knows this that’s why the president Narine comments blowed over quickly big picture thinkers not small minded scavagers!

  15. Hahaha I hope is really joke u making about press officer bc u should know I am not for sale!! The game is bigger than us all and its impact on youth more so!! We sank Raymond Tim Kee with negativity and looks like we want to do it again but guess who is the biggest loser? The game and the constituents it represents!! Cricket knows this that’s why the president Narine comments blowed over quickly big picture thinkers not small minded scavagers!

  16. The coach didn’t say there is no problem. He said he would rather not talk about it and he doesn’t want the issue to affect his team. Big difference.
    And if you think a coach won’t mind being told to leave his own session while the president asks his players to overrule him…
    Pardner, I would have no response to you on that.
    In Grenada, DJW had a meeting with all the W Connection players in full view of the rest of the squad and staff.
    You think he could have done that to Beenhakker? If DJW continues, you don’t think the coach will look weak to his squad?
    But I’m sure your football knowledge is better than you’re letting on.
    So hadda be the press officer post you’re eyeing up. Lol.

  17. And sport in TT need PR bc sport journaist do nothing for it anyway!! Oh I forgot Lasana is the last sport journalist bc Cozier died the rest do not know their a** from their elbow and has not moved sport or the profession fortward!!

  18. if the coach says there is no problem just creative differences then that should be respected! But the sport loving media prefers to wash the place with negativity and continue to tint story to reflect opinion and not fact!

  19. So we should keep quiet and not bother the president Gordon? That’s the way to improve things? The squad will be better if we look the other way while the president interferes with a winning team?
    Asking the TTFA president when the technical director started work is a negative question?
    No wonder yes. No wonder. Lol.

  20. Gordon you are my pardner but with all due respect yuh talking “Anal-ness” an alleged incident of the president over stepping his boundaries and desrespecting the coach infront of his players is the bigger story anyhow you look at it and needs to be clarified or denied by the TTFA. PR and news isnt the same thing eh! remember that.

  21. hahaha mister man u know better than that!! i just want d thing to grow and negativity helps no one including d players and program! Mi ah cry for d youth not no man in no three piece suit!

  22. And the two parties didn’t say it was a none story. Quote properly. 😉

  23. Gordon, you not giving up on that TTFA press officer work at all pardner. Lol. Yeah. The big story is three friendly matches. Not the TTFA president apparently trying to belittle his head coach in front of his players.
    And after already sacking the women’s coach and technical director. 😉

  24. and we at wire868 decide that the big story is not a three match sponsored tour but a story the both parties involve say is a none story!! Well done sport loving T+T

  25. wait nah Lasana Liburd…DJW is not the same man we watch ah game with some time back at Grand Bazaar and was talking bout making changes and all them kindah ting? this guy here who coass on yuh like yuh was he stalker EXGF trying to get ah rounds ah beers at the club kindah look like that same fellah…

  26. just when we taught it was safe to be a supporter again power really fffup some people yes look alluh fix this shit yes the more things change the more it remain the same same shit different regime

  27. I fed up yes…to be continued

  28. ye ha Debbie Espinal im seeing the full interaction on ctv news with Gyasi Sniani Merrique

  29. Not seeing the TV 6 report on presser on their website – but CNC 3 just focused on positives on what happened

    http://www.cnc3.co.tt/sports/ttfa-gets-sponsorship

  30. Like de man wanted to lash you g saw the Story on 6 tonight

  31. More allegations or Ole talk. Bring proof, man.

  32. iz “muscle” yuh say yuh know ??

  33. Hopefully DJW learned from this incident and he swallows his pride and we move forward. His intentions to have an extra game is good and ambitious but when the Coach and management staff say Thanks but NO thanks then you have to listen to them.

  34. I am quite sure he would not have made that mistake had Beenhaker been around.

  35. That’s no surprise. I knew John Williams When I played with W. Connection when the pro league was newly form never really had a long conversation with the guy but for the short time I been with the club he love to use his authority. In my time with the club he sack some players for small problems. So reading this article just bring back old memories

  36. I wonder if DJW took advantage of the fact that most of the senior players were not present, especially Kenwyne and Jan-Michael? Or was it because there were six W-Connection players in attendance? Would he hvae pulled the same stunt if our full complement of players were there?