Home / Volley / Other Sports / How reactive thinking, uncaring Gov’t and snobbish FIH hurt T&T hockey juniors 

How reactive thinking, uncaring Gov’t and snobbish FIH hurt T&T hockey juniors 

Maybe it is just a Trini thing but have you noticed how, even though the persons in charge are very often leaders in their respective professional fields, amateur sports run by amateurs always seem to be run, well, amateurishly?

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago gymnast Thema Williams (centre) is flanked by (from left) Tots and Tumblers gymnastics club owner Annette Telfer and attorneys Keith Scotland, Dr Emir Crowne and Resa Ramjohn at a press conference on 27 April 2016 at the Virtus Chambers in Port of Spain. (Courtesy Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago gymnast Thema Williams (centre) is flanked by (from left) Tots and Tumblers gymnastics club owner Annette Telfer and attorneys Keith Scotland, Dr Emir Crowne and Resa Ramjohn at a press conference on 27 April 2016 at the Virtus Chambers in Port of Spain.
(Courtesy Wired868)

These amateur professionals—or are they professional amateurs?—are placed there to run the sport and seek the best interest of the athletes and other affiliates. However, more often than not, these administrators forget the real stakeholders, get above themselves and consult only their own best interests; I feel sure that recent examples are still so fresh in the collective memory that I do not need to cite any particular names or any particular sport.

Field hockey is an amateur sport run by amateurs. And after the recently completed Junior Pan-American Hockey Tournament in Canada, questions are again to be raised about the competence of the people who hold the reins, this time of the Trinidad and Tobago Hockey Board (TTHB).

But there are questions too about the real concerns of the Ministry of Education (MoE) as well as about the Pan-Am Hockey Federation (PAHF) and even about the International Hockey Federation (FIH).

Maybe I should just tell my story and let you be the judge.

The Junior Pan-American Hockey Tournament, the regional qualifier for the Junior World Cup, was originally scheduled for Toronto from 20-28 May. Since those dates conflicted with CSEC and CAPE exams, Caribbean teams requested a change to 20-28 June.

Photo: The Trinidad and Tobago National Under-21 Hockey Team prepares for action in the 2016 Pan American Men's Junior Hockey Championships in Toronto.
Photo: The Trinidad and Tobago National Under-21 Hockey Team prepares for action in the 2016 Pan American Men’s Junior Hockey Championships in Toronto.

However, the FIH had set June 24 as the deadline date for receipt of information about all teams qualified for the World Cup. We all know the song that tells us what a difference a day makes. But really, would four days have made such a huge difference?

The International Hockey Federation (FIH) insisted that it did—they probably wouldn’t have if one of the hockey “super powers” were making the request—and the Pan American Hockey Federation (PAHF) failed to make the case for pushing back the deadline.

But the reluctance to change the schedule was made well in advance of the actual tournament so that nothing was sprung on the TTHB at the last minute. A strategic approach required pro-action because it was always clear that the majority of the team would be students and that the new dates conflicted with the all-important exams.

A very reasonable proposal came forward to have the affected members of the National Under-21 Boys Team write their exams in Toronto, an idea that was shared with officials at the Guyana Hockey Board.

In the event, the Guyanese players who needed to were able to take their exams in Toronto. The TTHB, however, delayed the start of their application process and only sent their request to the Ministry of Education for the arrangements to be made for the players to do their exams in Canada, a few months before the scheduled start of the tournament.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago international Tariq Marcano (left) in action against Argentina in the Toronto 2016 Pan American Men's Junior Hockey Championships.
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago international Tariq Marcano (left) in action against Argentina in the Toronto 2016 Pan American Men’s Junior Hockey Championships.

But late application or not, I feel things could have been different.

Far be it from me to appear to be condoning shoddy administration but I still feel the MoE’s response betrayed a typically uncaring attitude. Or, at least, one that wasn’t caring enough.

What we had was a couple dozen young men engaged in indisputably meaningful sporting activity under the aegis of a national sporting body. In light of all the recent negative reports about child delinquency—and adult misbehaviour of various sorts!—this was surely something to be encouraged.

But the Ministry of Education did not see it fit to grant the request—late though it might have been—although I know for certain that this has been done in the past for another sporting body.

So what happened was that one very brave young man, defender Jabari Perez (Barataria North Secondary), decided to forgo his exams and repeat Form Five. Additionally, forward Marcus Pascal (Fatima College) arrived late for the start of the tournament and missed the first game.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago goalkeeper Kwasi Emmanuel (left) and Jordan Reynos in action at the Toronto 2016 Pan American Men's Junior Hockey Championships.
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago goalkeeper Kwasi Emmanuel (left) and Jordan Reynos in action at the Toronto 2016 Pan American Men’s Junior Hockey Championships.

First-call goalkeeper Kwasi Emmanuel (QRC)—who was, it is worth noting, eventually voted Goalkeeper of the Tournament—and midfielder Che Modeste (North Gate College) had to return to Trinidad for exams and, as a result, missed the crucial quarterfinal game against Canada.

I feel I can say with some assurance that things would have turned out differently for the team if these boys had been given the option to sit their exams in Toronto. I think it is more than likely that they would have had been competing for a top-four place instead of a place in the 5-8 bracket.

There are those who will say that the strength of your bench is what indicates how strong you really are and argue that I’m merely looking for excuses to explain away the eventual result.

To them I say this: the talent pool for hockey players in Trinidad and Tobago is so small that, if you dip your foot in it, your ankle will still be visible; there are, however, countries which would need scuba diving gear to plumb the depths of their resources.

So I can’t end without a shout-out to the coach, former national captain Darren Cowie. Despite all the uncertainties surrounding the team and the unnecessary obstacles placed in their path, he and his supporting staff were still able to get these boys to give a good account of themselves at the highest level.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago's Teague Marcano (right) in action at the Toronto 2016 Pan American Men's Junior Hockey Championships.
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago’s Teague Marcano (right) in action at the Toronto 2016 Pan American Men’s Junior Hockey Championships.

In fact, the coach of one of the hockey “super powers” commented to me early in the tournament that he was very pleased with the T&T performance and thought they would go far.

They didn’t—not, at any rate, as far as they might have—and I can’t help thinking that it is, at least in part, my fault.

What if, I ask myself, I had decided to pen a follow-up to my first article? Maybe the Ministry of Education would have bowed to public pressure and allowed these young men to sit their exams in Toronto? Who knows?

What we do know is that we can take action now to attempt to ensure that future junior national players would not have to face the same issue. Maybe we can ask that the Ministry of Education, in conjunction with the national sporting bodies, develop a policy document designed to ensure that there is no recurrence.

But we don’t really expect it to happen, do we?

Photo: The Trinidad and Tobago National Under-21 Hockey Team prepares for action in the Toronto 2016 Pan American Men's Junior Hockey Championships.
Photo: The Trinidad and Tobago National Under-21 Hockey Team prepares for action in the Toronto 2016 Pan American Men’s Junior Hockey Championships.

After all, as we have recently seen, except, of course, when it is done behind the scenes to benefit certain officials, forward planning is not a Trini thing.

 

Editor’s Note: Click HERE to read Part One as Lisa Hernandez explained how the FIH disrespected the Caribbean’s young players. 

AboutLisa Hernandez

Lisa Hernandez
Lisa Hernandez works with a local diplomatic mission and has been involved in field hockey for over 30 years.  She is a former national player and international hockey umpire who is devoted to contribute to sport in whatever capacity.

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30 comments

  1. To be specific it was the Ag. Chief Education Officer, Harrilal Seecharan, who vetoed the proposal. The Minister agreed, the PS agreed but he was not in agreement. I wonder if it was another sporting body who made the request if he would have been so unwilling!!???

  2. Who do we keep doing this to ourselves?!!? Self inflicted!!! Big up the Royalian goalkeeper! #magnumest #qrc

  3. The TTHB had an invigilator ready and willing to assist in Toronto yet the MoE refused to budge with their decision. That says a lot about how they feel about the youths in T&T.

  4. Same old shit but only softer

  5. Kendall, I know for sure. It was done with the women’s youth football team in 2011/12. I remember clearly because the TTFA owed the invigilator.

  6. The buck stops with the TTHB. They have a duty to the athletes by ensuring all arrangements are made for a balance existence i.e. Sports and Education. It’s not impossible.

  7. If she knows for certain that exams were done abroad previously, she needs to clearly identify the incident. It smacks of heresay otherwise.

  8. List of Ministries and Gov’tt agencies we need to abandon:
    Compiling……

  9. Time also for the parents of junior golfers to get involved and make a change to the current rulebook which allows non-nationals to represent TTO – proactivity required…

  10. I can understand the disappointment and the preceding and subsequent frustration…but why the constant pointing fingers and blaming everything and everybody else? It’s the FIH’s fault for sticking to their WRITTEN policy, it’s the MOE’s fault for receiving a late application for assistance….I’m so tired of this garbage. The local body is solely responsible…get your house in order before banging on someone else’s.

  11. Everyone has to be proactive to make this work. And that will have to include parents, players and media I think.
    What else can we do if we want better?

  12. I’m so tired of seeing the people tasked with protecting the interests of those who sacrifice to represent this country spit in their faces. I’m also really sorry we didn’t catch this early enough to make noise for this group.

    • Earl Best

      The real tragedy, CP, is that we have to make noise at all to get people to do what they are expected to do – and, in some cases, PAID to do. So that there are perhaps two elements to solving the problem: (1) upstream, at the time of the (s)election of the officials (The TTFA comes to mind) (2) downstream, once the (s)election process is over, heightened vigilance and consistent monitoring.

      Because – make no mistake about it – there currently exists nothing systemic that will take care of business for us as happens in other places.

    • My sentiments exactly. These people are killing the dreams of our athletes day by day. So many untold stories. Glad this one was brought to the fore @lasanaliburd

    • It is tiring Calisa. But it really seems that we have to fight for every inch when it comes to people doing their jobs and being accountable.

    • We do. They’re not going to wake up one day and decide to do the right thing. They’ve been getting away with the wrong thing for far too long.

  13. This is disappointing. My son played with many of these U21 players during his high school years and I was so happy to see that they were representing at the highest level. To hear that this is what happened behind the scenes really makes me wonder about those in charge

  14. It may not be a ‘trini thing’ but it is definitely prevalent in they way we manage our responsibilities… or fail to?

  15. What…. in the world did I just read….? 😮