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Russell Latapy to Jan-Michael Williams: “Talk less, defend more!”

“I would like to share my thoughts, especially, at this time when a player, namely, Jan-Michael Williams, in his lack of wisdom and understanding can boldly make statements about the Honourable Minister of Sport and the Sport Ministry…”

The following statement from former Trinidad and Tobago football icon and current national youth team coach Russell Latapy is in response to criticism of Sport Minister Darryl Smith attributed to Central FC and Trinidad and Tobago National Senior Team goalkeeper Jan-Michael Williams:

Photo: Central FC goalkeeper Jan-Michael Williams was the game winner as his team edged Club Sando 5-4 on kicks from the penalty mark in the Digicel Pro Bowl semifinal at the Ato Boldon Stadium on 12 February 2017. (Courtesy Sean Morrison/Wired868)
Photo: Central FC goalkeeper Jan-Michael Williams was the game winner as his team edged Club Sando 5-4 on kicks from the penalty mark in the Digicel Pro Bowl semifinal at the Ato Boldon Stadium on 12 February 2017.
(Courtesy Sean Morrison/Wired868)

For a long time I’ve stood by and listened to some of the younger players voice their opinions regarding the game of football. I would like to share my thoughts, especially, at this time when a player, namely, Jan Michael Williams,  in his lack of wisdom and understanding can boldly make statements about the Honourable Minister of Sport and the Sport Ministry.

Firstly, Acknowledgement comes with Achievement! The type of achievement required to be successful in football is playing at a high level, motivating other players, and building team spirit and camaraderie for your team and country while working tirelessly to be at the top of the CFU and Concacaf. It is also taking responsibility for your actions and not blaming others.

Secondly, If you want acknowledgement you do not need to ask for it. Acknowledgement involves playing professionally for an extended period in a league that is considered a top professional league and not just for a few months.

So kid, my advice to you is: talk less, defend more and I look forward to you being part of a successful National Team.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago National Under-17 coach Russell Latapy (centre) shouts instructions at his players during 2017 Under-17 World Cup qualifying action in Couva on 17 September 2016. Haiti won 2-0. (Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago National Under-17 coach Russell Latapy (centre) shouts instructions at his players during 2017 Under-17 World Cup qualifying action in Couva on 17 September 2016.
Haiti won 2-0.
(Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)

Editor’s Note: Jan-Michael Williams subsequently said his criticism, which was published in a Central FC release, was “incorrectly interpreted” and he might have been “[used] by others to get their various points across.”

The Central FC managing director Brent Sancho was Darryl Smith’s immediate predecessor as Sport Minister.

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  1. Nigel S. Scott, this has been an interesting argument but one based on media led misconceptions. When Central were formed, we went looking for sponsors in the Point Lisa’s area. A friend in the Central football community introduced us to Krishna Lalla. He admired Sancho’s fight against Warner (as he too had battles with him) and wanted to develop SIS community projects. We produced a proposal and won their sponsorship. Like most people at the time, we hadn’t really heard of SIS. I believe Lalla was instrumental in recommending Sancho for the Ministers role as it had remained vacant for 6 months after Anil was sacked. While we agreed to step away from Central while in the Ministry, and met SIS handle the administrative and management of the club, they were not intended to be owners. The sponsorship figure was constant and agreed and was not dependent on how many contracts were won. Also, the UNC was never involved. We then approached Bankers Insurance who were interested in our youth programme. After some discussions they wanted the front of the jersey and we chose them to be main sponsors. They had to pull out in March 2016 due to the recession. You didn’t mention Jabloteh being sponsored by CLICO or Joe Public who was sponsored by Warner! There was never a war chest, just an agreed sponsorship. Central would not have any debts if the prize money from the last three years had been received. However, the last 12 months has been a daily battle to pay salaries and expenses.

    • Yes Kevin Harrison, I’m sure the relationship with SIS was entirely coincidental from inception and innocent throughout Central’s existence as you describe. Lalla recommended Sanko for the Ministerial job while you both *cough* stepped away *cough* from running Central as you and Sanko went on the MoS payroll. In return you both ‘suggested’ SIS take over administration of the club, for safekeeping no doubt, until you returned from your sojourn on the public payroll. It certainly could have gone down like that. Stranger things have happened, I suppose.

    • And to add to that Nigel S. Scott, the moon landing was a CIA movie and there really is a “cough” Bermuda Triangle where planes and boats are abducted by aliens. Stranger things have been conjured in the minds of conspiracy theorists. Someone once told me that two and two equals five. I just left him in his straight jacket! Remember the famous Jack Nicholson statement in A Few Good Men? “You want the truth? You can’t handle the truth”

  2. National teams take advantage of the fit players produced by pro clubs so no need to train as often. Also, they get to use the best facilities on a more regular basis. I’m not sure how they’re at a disadvantage at all when compared to clubs..

    • The comparison isn’t to clubs in the aggregate… it’s to Central FC in this particular instance.

    • Nigel, I know when someone believes something and doesn’t get that being on the ground helps to clarify a point then so be it.. one day you may come for a season and understand the pro league teams are all in heavy debt.. on a larger per capita scale in some instances than the TTFA

    • Brian I don’t doubt that Pro League teams are in debt… I am even willing to concede that they are “all” in debt. The fact of the matter is that when it comes to discussing Central’s accomplishments over fellow Pro League teams, there has really been just one team with the financial clout as Central, and that is W Connection. I don’t have particular insight on Central’s finances… nor W Connections… maybe you do, being there on the ground. A safe assumption can be made given SIS’ cozy relationship with the UNC gov’t that some of the billions in public funds ended up bankrolling the SIS-owned Central FC. As I said, this isn’t about Pro League teams in the aggregate… we’re not discussing the accomplishments of Pro League “teams.”

    • SIS and their money has been gone a little while. They have won since then my friend.

    • My use of the word “warchest” was deliberate. Not all the vestigial advantages of the previous ownership would disappear with a transfer on paper.

    • As I mentioned, they have had issues making payroll, just like any other team.. So the “war chest” you mention, may not be as big as you imagine

    • I’m sure it’s tapering off by now Brian, but the ‘vestigial advantages’ I mentioned elsewhere likely has kept them competitive for longer than they otherwise would have been. The alternative is to accept that Central is just that more ‘special’ than the rest of the PFL.

    • K man. I am glad for any team that gets corporate sponsorship in this country. By the way, just because a team has funds doesn’t make it a surety to win anything.. Not saying they got as much as you believe, because I don’t know. As you know, no one outspends the Yankees and yet, they haven’t had much success recently.. I am getting old so good night man..my bed calling me

    • Lol… you must be really getting old if you turning in at 8 pm, laters (y)

  3. How are you comparing Central finances to TTFA? I cannot so you’re ahead of me there

  4. National teams face challenges quite unlike club teams, particularly when you’re talking about Caribbean teams. For one there is the lack of continuity that we ourselves complain about on the national level. Resources might also vary, I don’t think there can be much argument that Central FC has enjoyed better financial and administrative stability than the TTFA.

    To elaborate on the ‘continuity’ argument, how often to national team players get to train with each other, and with the coaching staff? How often has morale been affected by administrative snafus, or pay issues? How often when players have been called up have they been able to travel far enough in advance as to be adequately rested and prepared for national duty? I could go on and on.

    Compare and contrast with Central FC, and the advantage they were able to carve out for themselves through their affiliation with both the disgraced SIS and the former UNC government. Both of these relationships in all likelihood resulted in financial benefits to Central that other clubs were not able to enjoy. I remember Harrison boasting about Central’s ability to attract sponsors such as SIS, implying that there was something special about Central’s efforts compared to other Pro League clubs. Of course it later all came out in the wash that SIS (which controversially, and in some cases illegally gained millions in gov’t contracts under the UNC) not only owned Central FC, but were de facto running the club as well. So armed with this financial advantage it really shouldn’t be that surprising that they have dominated the Pro League largely since their inception. Like I said, big fish in a little pond. If that impresses you Brian then good for you, but as you said… context matters.

  5. I think all accomplishments could be celebrated and recognized. No matter who thinks they’re worthy or not.. Winning the Pro League three times in a row doesn’t just mean navigating reasonably tough opponents. It also means a team has gotten through financial uncertainty, inconsistent officiating, tough stop start scheduling and playing fields of varying quality. It isn’t as easy as it may seem. To win the CFU club championship on more than one occasion even more admirable to many. By the way, some would argue, it should be easier to win CFU chamoionships ias a National team than as a club team. As I said, context is important..

  6. This conversation really says a lot. Trinis are crazy people. So Jan should shut up cuz he performs in a small league and Latas play for Porto so until Jan win the CL he can’t talk football even though he captained the national team just like Latas

  7. Claine Plummer. Costa Rican goalkeepers instructor . – ” In Trinidad the population is 1.3 million and they all are coaches.” #Proven

  8. Are we seriously comparing national accomplishments to club accomplishments?

  9. I have the greatest of respectvfor Latas but that was a pappyshow article …throwing yuh weight around. Personally I not begging anyone for acknowledgement but even if he disagreed didnt have to roll like that. Latas you’re a legend but yuh not so big that a man cyah say “F*** you!!” …remember that …kid!!

  10. Cyar agree with Latas on that one. First of all, why does one have to achieve or get accolades in order to voice an opinion? You have to earn the right to speak your mind? Come on!

  11. I really hoped that people where wrong when they said the reason we are so underdeveloped is because we fight our own. Instead of help each other. Smh that’s why poverty struck Haiti is a more feared team in concacaf than us now

  12. Crabs in a barrel * dick measuring competitions.

  13. As a people we seem to lack the ability to diffuse a situation. We seem to have a penchant to escalate? Why is that? What exactly was there to gain by addressing the gentleman as “kid”? IMHO it did little else but cede Mr Latapy’s moral authority here.

    Latapy was up 1-0 and threw away the game in injury time!

  14. Dear Lasana. Mr. Latapy’s response here also lacks leadership.

    Why address the gentleman as “kid”?

    Just as you fight hate with love, fight dark with light, you fight insubordination with respect.

  15. Can’t we all just get along ? #AlwaysWantedToSayThat

  16. Why we always seem to divert a general discussion into a personal attack just to get our point across. So much information and ideas could be shared and benefitted from if we can just keep it civil and agree to disagree at times.

  17. After a season they back in the pro league

  18. Not no shit contract in Vietnam or loan deal in usl or Finland

  19. I have placed 5 players into Europe and helped them get house car and money to take Care of their kids and family and over 20 more get opportunities

  20. Dion Sosa, just so I understand your point fully, what have you personally achieved for T&T football by comparison. Coz it’s easy to run down people, but it’s a lot harder to emulate them.

  21. Was that a warning shot across the bow? It’s interesting Dwight’s preface though…
    “I would like to share my thoughts, especially, at this time when a player, namely, Jan-Michael Williams, in his lack of wisdom and understanding can boldly make statements about the Honourable Minister of Sport and the Sport Ministry”. In other words, turn a blind eye to incompetence, malfeasance, and blatant disregard. It is not your place to express your opinion and vocalize your concerns especially if your comments are directed at an honorably titled official. You just play ball or else!

    • I think that’s how we roll here Kenneth. Latapy not Dwight.
      But I agree. We always encourage people to stay in the box or else.
      Actually, let me not ascribe that to Trinidad. That’s what people expect from athletes all over the world.

    • That’s unfortunate. Regardless, I still have renewed hope in the change of Soca Warriors’ coaching. I hope our sportsmen and women, current and future, can by some miracle improve and excel under the current Ministry of Sport and Youth Affairs leadership.

  22. Well said Russel these people have not accomplished shit but always talking winning TT pro league is nothing when you can say you’ve win something of meaning abroad then you can earn the right to say things

  23. Jamaal, we wouldn’t put out statements that are not approved. So what is the role of the Minister if not to promote sporting excellence?

    • Earl Best

      Is Jamal the one to whom you should be addressing that question, KH, you who were so close to the seat of sporting power?

      Might that question not be better answered if it were addressed to someone rather closer to home? Just asking…

  24. But it seems like the player did not make the statements after all. And I do not agree that Central should make those statements either.

  25. A player should not get involved in criticising a Sports Minister if that person chose not to send congratulatory message to his/ her club in my view.

  26. Two times Caribbean club champion. At least 4 Pro League titles numerous cups and of course 60 plus international appearances. And he played in Europe.

  27. Kevin, exactly what are Jan’s accolades? This is an honest question because I don’t recall.

  28. What is Daryl Smiths job other than to promote sport by recognizing excellence?

  29. Jamaal, I don’t agree with these comments. Jan-Michael is at the top of his game both nationally and regionally. He cannot win any more accolades. It’s not his fault that the national team hasn’t achieved more. He’s literally given blood for his country. One thing I do agree with Russell about us that he shouldn’t have to ask for accolades. He’s earned them repeatedly. As a player, when you give 100%, when you keep winning, when you give blood for your country, when you have to take pay cuts and wait 3 years for your bonuses, why shouldn’t you speak out? Bro, you speak out when you feel ignored so why shouldn’t he? It must concern you when you’re trusted to develop our youths and the top goalkeeper in the Caribbean doesn’t even merit a pat on the back from the Minister of sport. Where’s the incentives for the youths?

  30. Proper advice from someone with knowledge and experience