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How the TTFA ended up with Saintfiet; and DJW’s role in the whole affair

The local football body’s board of directors, according to the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association’s (TTFA) constitution, holds the ultimate responsibility to: “appoint the coaches for the representative teams and other technical staff.”

And it is the board of directors that: “shall appoint the chairmen, deputy chairmen and members of the standing committees”—including the technical committee, which advises the board on technical and development issues.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) president David John-Williams (second from left) welcomes new National Senior Team coach Tim Saintfiet (second from right) during a press conference at the Marriott Hotel on 7 December 2016. Looking on is new general secretary Justin Latapy-George (far left) and technical director Muhammad Isa. (Courtesy Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) president David John-Williams (second from left) welcomes new National Senior Team coach Tom Saintfiet (second from right) during a press conference at the Marriott Hotel on 7 December 2016.
Looking on is new general secretary Justin Latapy-George (far left) and technical director Muhammad Isa.
(Courtesy Wired868)

Yet, in the selection of the Men’s National Senior Team coach Tom Saintfiet, TTFA president David John-Williams—according to a football insider—played a curious intermediary role between board and technical committee that could have potentially infringed upon the function of both entities.

The technical committee, of its own volition, decided to prioritise prospective coaches who had experience leading international teams within the last three years. It was a curious marker since it meant Saintfiet—whose last job as Bangladesh coach had the sum total of one draw and two losses from three games—would place higher than Manchester City’s Pep Guardiola and Liverpool’s Jürgen Klopp.

And it meant curtains for, among others, ex-Trinidad and Tobago international captain David Nakhid and former San Juan Jabloteh coaches Terry Fenwick, who lives in Trinidad, and Ricky Hill.

So, the technical committee decided on a four-man shortlist of former Japan coach Philippe Troussier, ex-Honduras World Cup coach Luis Fernando Suarez, El Salvador youth coordinator and former Colombia coach Eduardo Lara and Saintfiet, whose highpoint was in charge of a Togo team ranked 96 in the world at the time.

The committee, as John-Williams suggested in today’s press conference, ranked the coaches in this order: Troussier, Saintfiet, Suarez and Lara.

Photo: Former Japan World Cup coach Philippe Troussier was supposedly too expensive for the TTFA.
Photo: Former Japan World Cup coach Philippe Troussier was supposedly too expensive for the TTFA.

That ranking, according to the source, was because the technical committee did not know if Suarez or Lara spoke English and decided that should outweigh the possible difference in a skill level between Suarez—who took Ecuador and Honduras to World Cups—and Saintfiet whose only brief top flight coaching experience in Europe came in the Faroe Islands.

Crucially, the technical committee never spoke to a single candidate. Instead, they looked at the CVs submitted by the respective coaches and used Google.

And, when their shortlist was done, it was passed on to John-Williams—and not the board. The president was asked to find out whether Suarez or Lara spoke English.

John-Williams reported back that Troussier was too expensive and Suarez and Lara were unavailable—it is still uncertain if either man spoke English or whether it posed an insurmountable barrier in the first place. Incidentally, the TTFA president also supposedly spoke to former United States coach Jürgen Klinsmann earlier and claimed the German said he had already agreed terms to coach in China.

Saintfiet, John-Williams said, was available and affordable.

And on Monday evening, after two weeks in which names like Carlos Dunga, Frank Rijkaard and Suarez were whispered as potential replacements for former national coach Stephen Hart, the TTFA’s board of directors was given just one name to consider: Saintfiet.

Photo: Former Bangladesh coach Tom Saintfiet. (Copyright Ethiosports)
Photo: Former Bangladesh coach Tom Saintfiet.
(Copyright Ethiosports)

It was either vote for the obscure Belgian or nothing—which, presumably, could have meant a fresh probe by the technical committee. The board of directors opted for Saintfiet.

John-Williams spoke briefly about the selection process today.

“The technical committee shortlisted four people, which they recommended the TTFA talk to in particular ranking order,” said the TTFA president. “And Tom came out on top. He was not our first choice—for sure. Our first choice was way out of what we could have afforded. And I make no apologies for saying that.

“And I can tell you who our first choice was as well. Philippe Troussier. And Tom knows that.”

John-Williams also issued a remarkable public threat to the football body’s new coach—at his unveiling, no less.

“I will also tell you this… if he doesn’t get the job done on the 24 and 28 of March, he will be looking for a job,” said John-Williams. “And I make no apologies for saying that. He is laughing but we’re very serious.

“Because if we don’t get the job done on the 24th and 28th of March, we might as well kiss our campaign goodbye.”

Photo: TTFA president David John-Williams (right) smiles with fourth official Cecile Hinds before the First Citizens Bank Cup final between Defence Force and Ma Pau Stars at the Ato Boldon Stadium on 2 December 2016. (Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)
Photo: TTFA president David John-Williams (right) smiles with fourth official Cecile Hinds before the First Citizens Bank Cup final between Defence Force and Ma Pau Stars at the Hasely Crawford Stadium on 2 December 2016.
(Courtesy Sean Morrison/Wired868)

So Saintfiet has two games to save his job—and, arguably, is already emasculated publicly before he has even met his team or enjoyed his first day on the job. His vulnerability is unlikely to be an asset when he tries to impose himself on the Soca Warriors dressing room.

But, since only the TTFA board of directors can hire and fire coaches, did John-Williams get approval for his colleagues before his threat, which was supposedly written into Saintfiet’s contract?

Our source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, claimed John-Williams’ threat to sack Saintfiet in three months was not sanctioned by the board.

Wired868 asked the TTFA president whether he got board approval for an early dismissal of Saintfiet, whether the board received only one name to vote for as coach and why he did not pass on at least two prospective coaches for selection.

He did not respond up to the time of publication.

After a bombastic start to his reign as football president—when he sacked head women’s coach, Randy Waldrum, and merely informed the board after the fact—John-Williams was careful to be more circumspect in the replacement of Hart.

Whether that means Saintfiet’s hiring was done by the book is debatable, though.

Photo: Former Bangladesh coach and new Soca Warriors head coach Tom Saintfiet. (Copyright BBC)
Photo: Former Bangladesh coach and new Soca Warriors head coach Tom Saintfiet.
(Copyright BBC)

The current TTFA board of directors comprises: David John-Williams (president), Joanne Salazar, Ewing Davis and Allan Warner (vice-presidents), Samuel Saunders (Central FA), Sherwyn Dyer (Eastern Counties Football Union), Karanjabari Williams (Northern FA), Richard Quan Chan (Southern FA), Anthony Moore (Tobago FA), Joseph Taylor (Trinidad and Tobago Football Referees Association), Sharon O’Brien (Women’s League Football), Wayne Cunningham (Eastern FA) and Dexter Skeene (TT Pro League).

The TTFA technical committee consists of: Dexter Skeene (chairman), Dr Alvin Henderson (vice-chairman), Bertille St Clair (former World Youth Cup coach), Errol Lovell (former national goalkeeper), Jinelle James (ex-national player and current administrator) and Muhammad Isa (technical director).

AboutLasana 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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194 comments

  1. When tim kee was president we saw slight improvement as djw come down hill and it seems like he is out to destroy our football totally.

  2. Yeah but my dictator president isn’t an idiot eh, for all we know that he was against hiring the Coach eh,but the committee were the ones that called the shots because the TTFA must be really hurting for funds and he was very cheap to hire eh, Them really good yes.

  3. hahahahahaha Ah forget that reason to eh

  4. he get time off cause he was defending that big idiot

  5. Dion Sosa yuh better be careful eh, meh family Gordon Pierre got some time off from wired volley eh hahaha

  6. what do you people expect when you put a cricket man impersonating a football man 2 run football he will always do shit like that is allyuh vote and put that big idiot there

  7. ok sorry about that eh I don’t want to end up like meh family Gordon Pierre eh hahahaha

  8. Earl Mango Pierre, that is an old Saintfiet article. You can put it in any of the threads already up on the coach.

  9. We all thought that the last President of the TTFA was unfit to head the organization, well, what we now see and have been seeing, is that we are experiencing the old adage…
    SAME KHAKI PANTS BUT LONGER, and may I add…..
    TATTERED..WILLIAMS is a JOKE, BUT, being a DICTATOR is no joke and a detriment to TRINIDAD and TOBAGO football.

  10. ..AND let them attack Gally too. Let slip the dogs of war!..

  11. Brian Harry how long you know we not buying cat in bag ???

  12. ..Let them bodyguards hit Clayton hard too..

  13. ..Let those who provide security for the TTFA bosses attack Alvin Corneal now. Call him names. Waste him down. Unleash hell! LOL..

  14. Lasana breds….dont blame Tom he did not hire himself…he applied for a job with whatever credentials he possessed and was hired…..only time will tell…..but expect no Gold Cup or qualification for the 2018 WORLD CUP…..EXPECT NOTHING…..by April maybe on All Fool”s Day another press conference…..

  15. It was a very sharp column. Spot on.

  16. Well said Alvin!!!! I don’t know how people can say give him a chance . WE KNOW WHAT WE GETTING!!! Because of technology and modern day information flow, this is one instance where “we not buying cat in bag”. Only DJW knows.

  17. I must say after reading this it is not DJW at fault but the TTFA Board of Directors and the Technical Committee because if what you’re reporting is true then the Board should resign…..DJW could only do what he’s doing if the Board is giving him the power and turning a blind eye…so it the Board members and not DJW…..

  18. David John-Williams not only proved himself incompetent here in firing Hart- who made us into a team again- and hiring this Belgian pretender, but he also proved himself to be a massive c-nt. How disrespectful & undermining to the man to say those things during his intro, never mind utterly foolish & petulant. Two games to prove yourself, by that measure even Guardiola would have been fire at the start of his Barcelona era, and this guy is no Guardiola. What a CLOWN this David John-Williams is.

  19. Lord put a hand…a slapping one….from W.I.C.B to T.T.F.A……reverse breezes, the bunch ah dem ah set ah P.O.M.S ….!!!

  20. I think this guy has been set up before he even started. Admittedly his record isn’t stellar. But he has coached players such as Adebayor, which none of the local guys could claim. I know nothing about him or his style and neither does anybody else, but everyone classing him as a joke. We should give the guy a chance because no matter what we say, he’s our coach and we need to win. DJW did him no favors when he introduced him and that has made his job more difficult from day one. To me, he was smart. While other guys priced themselves out of a job, he obviously pitched at the right level – a lesson to be learned for anybody applying for a job. I want T&T to qualify in Jan and March. I don’t care who the new guy is. I just want to win. If he fails, he goes. In the meantime let’s give the guy a break and get behind him.

    • He “coached” Adebayor? Sounds very impressive eh. I suppose Hannibal Najjar can put on his CV that he “coached” Stern John–T&T’s record scorer. And Roy Keane “coached” Dwight Yorke.
      If that it what you picked out from his CV then that maybe you can understand the skepticism.
      Dale Saunders “coached” Kenwyne Jones who was a Premiership player. But what does that mean exactly?
      Better off just saying that his record is unimpressive but you hope he does well.

    • Have to disagree strongly with you brother

  21. And we taught Tim Kee was crazy…old people say ” you sure what you have…not what you might get”

  22. We the TTFA bought a coach on eBay. ????????????

  23. Noone should go to yhese games. Boycott and show DJW he is an ass.

  24. We are a joke. Ttfa and the wicb are the same.

  25. So after all these years you would think Michael Maurice has the experience to handle the national team. Perhaps! So disrespectful!

  26. Just remember that when you pay peanuts you get monkeys

  27. Lasana , can the football do a redo of the TTFA AGM and get back Tim Kee…..they really say the grass….

  28. TTFA and DJW are laughable. What incompetent stupid fools we have in charge, no wonder our football is in decline!!!

  29. Taking a look at the technical committee just made me sad. What does this man have in experience over a Russell Latapy and a Dwight Yorke combined? Is about attacking football just defensive tactics. I have no hope for 2018.

  30. This man was hired to fail, so John Williams could hire his “padna”.

    • This is so sad because this team in my opinion is younger and more balanced than our 2006 World Cup team and many of the boys on this present team still have not reached their peak or full potential while 2006 Yorke and Latas did it on experience past their prime, this is so unfair to these young men who I see making teams in the BPL and La Liga if we could qualify for Russia 2018, the government would have helped them pay a coach for the remainder of this hex.

  31. So the criteria was cheapness lol we chose to select the most cheap and most unsuitable coach for what we want to achieve which is world cup qualification. They better win the next qualifier next year cause i know Trini culture the coach and the TTFA will be in for a bashing and no excuses will be accepted.

  32. TTFA voted for tht David John Williams wii

  33. If he is working for 7k, guess his assistance os working for 3k….. Foreign-based coaches at 10k usd…. What a “bargain”… Lol

  34. David John Williams is a cancer to local football (and to football in general)…and instead of cutting off the cancerous limb, we removed the brain instead…because since his arrival that’s what the national team have been…brain dead !

  35. all ,these are my thoughts being not just an avid football fan but also being a player at the high levels for many years

    i have tried on many occasions to let national coaches etc know this…. our problem in trinidad and tobago is not the coach althought after a while to get to that next level we may need to change coaches..unfortunately we are not at that next level.
    firstly out problem stems from the scouting …ask yourself ..why is it that barcelona and manchester united could spot players like messi or ronaldo at those tender ages ..messi was draughted into barcelona i believe around 10 or 12 … we need to tap on the knowledge of the scouts for these big clubs like united and barca if this is done then we will see a difference sicne they do not only scout skill level they also look at their attitude etc…how many good college players never went to the next level in trinidad …probably about 80% …because of attitude etc….

    well the most obvious also is our players attitude and professionalism…. like first world is and attitude by citizens not just big buildings …similarly being a professional is also an attitude and you need to portray that in everything you do ….they need to understand how fortunate and blessed they are for getting to do a job they love and are getting paid to do it….i will jump at that opportunity now if i got it and give up everything that has been achieved thus far

    well the t&tfa is also not blameless as we can see with the new selection of a coach by dj williams,surprised he didn’t shove charles stewart down the throat of the players…how does the t&tfa hope to become pofitable if on their entire executive there is not one businessman of note ..you can’t say john williams because he inherited from his father he did not build the business….
    they will quickly say “well the businessmen don’t take part in the elections” which is true which suscessfull businessman will get involve in their internal wranglings ..they need to target and invite the businessmen in and listen to their advise etc….and they will take part but will only do so if you’re not wasting their time

    in conclusion we need scouts with a proven track record rather than high priced coaches

    regards

  36. All I can say is wow! Let me try to put myself in that man shoes. Imagine you’re a mediocre professional whatever. You land a job at what, based on your past work experience is a step up. The salary would make real professionals steups but to you yuh GT! And then yuh boss introduces you to the whole company ..staff, management, board… even people off the street! Then the boss tells everybody that they really wanted somebody else but they couldn’t afford that person. But because this guy would work for peanuts we picked him. But he will have 2 games to prove himself or he getting fired! And mind you based on how the team has been going you have an almost impossible task! That man would have balls of steel to take that job yes! I heard the poor sap talk about how he’s a strict disciplinarian and he will have a code of conduct etc. And I’m thinking…”good luck with that!”

  37. I thought we in the month of December. Nobody said yesterday was April 1st.

    TTFA living in a matrix. They can’t be operating in the real world

    Long live sports in the land of Dumb Dumb, where we have Administrators killing sports and killing the talented youth of Trinidad and Tobago without a gun.

    Continue full speed ahead we on the right track to success!