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So we is not coach too? TTFA’s coach selection process questioned after more Connection hirings

San Juan Jabloteh are one win away from sweeping the three categories of the Flow Youth Pro League (FYPL) for the third straight season.

However, with the decisive match carded for the San Juan North Secondary School compound in Bourg Mulatresse today, some people in the Jabloteh ranks feel as though their accomplishments at youth level are not being duly recognised at national level.

Photo: San Juan Jabloteh’s Raheem Mohan (right) tries to elude two Cunupia Extreme players during RBNYL Under-11 action at Constantine Park in Macoya on 10 June 2017.
Jabloteh won 2-0.
(Courtesy Sean Morrison/Wired868)

The club’s Under-15 and Under-17 units have already wrapped up their FYPL divisions for the 2017 season. Today, the Under-13 squad will bid to complete the unprecedented triple triple for the “San Juan Kings.”

Currently level with Police FC atop the FYPL’s standings on 46 points, the Under-13’s have the wind in their sails because of their superior goal difference; astonishingly, they have already racked up a total of 102 goals.

But despite that proud record, Jabloteh’s coaches aren’t being summoned for national duty or included in the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association’s (TTFA) Elite Youth Development Program. And Dave Weekes, the man responsible for overseeing the club’s Under-13 and Under-15 teams in the FYPL, simply cannot understand why.

The National Lotteries Control Board (NLCB)-sponsored Elite Youth Development Program is geared towards discovering Under-13 players and nurturing and harnessing their skills with a view to preparing them for future national teams.

The head coach in the Elite Youth Development Program is Stuart Charles-Février, head coach at W Connection whose junior coaches, Clyde Leon and Leonson Lewis, serve as assistants in the TTFA Grassroots Program.

Photo: St Benedict’s College coach Leonson Lewis points the way forward for his team during SSFL Premier Division action against East Mucurapo at Mucurapo Road on 6 October 2016.
Lewis is also a Trinidad and Tobago National Under-13 Team assistant coach and W Connection youth coach.
(Courtesy Sean Morrison/Wired868)

At present, Earl Jean and Elijah Joseph—both former St Lucia international players; like Février—are the only established Connection coaches who do not also have jobs with the TTFA, which is presided over by Connection owner David John-Williams.

After TTFA technical director Muhammad Isa informed Février that he would be the person responsible for overseeing the Elite program, the Connection coach—who is also one of Dennis Lawrence’s assistant coaches at national senior team level—said he decided to bring former national players Leon and Lewis on board.

Février noted that both men were competent enough to do the job and that he and the pair had already established a good working relationship.

However, Weekes, who has been a coach at Jabloteh for almost two decades, is questioning the TTFA’s method for assigning coaches to the Elite Youth Program. And he is not alone in raising these concerns.

Former TTFA Technical Committee chairman Dexter Skeene previously told Wired868 that the local football body did not follow proper protocol  in hiring Williams for the Under-20 job last year. And now former National Under-20 coach Derek King is making noises similar to Weekes’.

Photo: San Juan Jabloteh attacker Ooleetoo Myers (left) tries to find a way past QPCC defender Jaden Williams during the RBNYL Under-11 final at the Hasely Crawford Stadium on 1 July 2017.
QPCC won 5-4 via kicks from the penalty spot.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/CA Images/Wired868)

“This thing in Trinidad about elite and elite. How we could have an elite program?” Weekes asked Wired868. “Jabloteh winning every year—if we ain’t win all three, we taking two—and none of the coaches could coach a national team? Something have to be wrong.

“Why we doing such good work and our coaches cannot even get a water-boy work coaching a national team? We are doing something wrong then; we have to be doing something wrong!”

Weekes suggested that Jabloteh head coach and technical director Keith Jeffrey along with Under-17 coach Gilbert Bateau are both capable of steering national youth teams to success. And in support of his claim, he pointed to Jabloteh’s quarterfinal finish at last year’s CONCACAF Under-13 Champions League tournament.

In recent times, the National Men’s Under-17 and Under-20 teams have had indifferent returns as the Russell Latapy-led Under-17 unit failed to get past the Caribbean Football Union (CFU) qualifying stage last year while the Under-20’s, under the stewardship of coach Brian Williams—another W Connection employee—failed to advance from their group at CONCACAF level.

The National Under-20 coach Derek King also wondered aloud to Wired868 whether the David John-Williams-led administration is continuing in the same vein as the questionable appointment cited by Skeene.

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.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

“It’s really sad. Nobody ever contacted me knowing I’m from the East/West corridor to help out with the Elite Youth Program,” said King. “I don’t know. It’s really strange and it’s sad to know that nothing ever really came out advertising that coaches were needed for these positions. So I don’t know if it’s a personal agenda against coaches who were there under the previous administration.”

Skeene and two other technical committee members vacated their posts after Lawrence was hired as national senior team coach in January. It is uncertain who replaced them on the committee or if indeed there were any replacements at all.

TTFA general secretary Justin Latapy-George told Wired868 that a technical committee was indeed in operation at the TTFA. However, he stated that Isa, the technical director, would be better placed to say exactly who was on the committee and explain their functions.

Wired868 tried unsuccessfully to reach Isa for clarification on the process used to hire Février as Elite Youth Program head coach and the current composition of and goings-on in the Technical Committee.

King, however, who led Trinidad and Tobago’s Under-20 team to Caribbean success in 2014, has already concluded that certain coaches are being sidelined.

Photo: Former Trinidad and Tobago National Senior Team technical staff members (from right) Michael “Brow” Maurice, Derek King, Hutson “Barber” Charles and William Wallace exchange ideas before kick off against Nicaragua on 13 October 2015.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

“We haven’t heard anything since we resigned,” he told Wired868. “[Former national senior team assistant coach] Hutson Charles and I have never received a letter from the organisation thanking us for our service and stuff.

“It’s really sad because we have served the country as coaches for quite some time and we had success at youth level. I personally feel that they have sidelined certain coaches who were there with the previous administration.”

Weekes, who said he helped to nurture the likes of Jason Marcano and Warriors standout Kevin Molino, echoed King’s sentiment while ex-national stalwart and current Club Sando coach Angus Eve also indicated that he had not been contacted concerning the National Elite Program.

“They condemn Jack Warner and now the new president come in and like it’s only South people [being hired],” said Weekes. “What these fellahs have over us? We are not in the clique. […] Either the [technical] director [Keith Jeffrey] too mannish or they find the coaches are too mannish.

“They are overlooking the Youth Pro League. I cannot see why W [Connection’s] coaches alone are being selected and they cannot beat us in any competition. I could vouch for that. When teams come to play Jabloteh, I always tell my players that they are coming to beat the name so you must have that pride.”

Photo: A San Juan Jabloteh player (right) loses his footing in the 2015 Republic Bank National Youth Cup Under-13 third place play off at the Larry Gomes Stadium in Malabar.
(Courtesy Sinead Peters/Wired868)

King feels that more transparency in the selection process of coaches, inclusive of advertisements detailing the positions available and the requirements to be met would help improve the TTFA’s relationship with eager coaches and the general football public.

But transparency regarding their coach selection process is not the only issue being raised about the TTFA these days. Veterans Football Foundation of Trinidad and Tobago (VFFOTT) president Selby Browne has sent an official request to the umbrella body asking for answers to a slew of questions about how the administration is utilising the funds received from the NLCB’s TT$8 million sponsorship.

In a document containing dozens of incisive questions revealed at the TTFA’s EGM on Wednesday 5 July, Browne’s asked the TTFA inter alia, “What is the total cost of salary and administrative expenses of the NLCB grassroots program?”

And he also asked the TTFA to reveal the names of the directors of the NLCB grassroots program.

Février, who suggested that the Elite Youth Program was still in its teething stage, vowed to do his part as he and his staff try to find the best crop of youngsters to develop into future national standouts.

Photo: W Connection coach Stuart Charles-Fevrier (second from right) and assistant coach Earl Jean (far right) speak to their players during a break between the action against Atlantico FC in 2016 Caribbean Club Championship action.
(Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)

“The Elite Youth Development Program is two-fold,” he told Wired868. “Yes, we want to have a good Under-13 team but we also want to develop players for the future of Trinidad and Tobago football. It’s a means to an end. And the end is the national team […] in the next six to ten years we want to see them competing at the international level.”

The TTFA has scheduled a zonal Under-13 tournament to run from September to November. At the end of it, the plan is to select an ‘elite’ pool of about 50 players to work with Charles-Février and company in the future.

Weekes, King and Eve will hope that there’s room for them—and maybe Jeffrey—in that company.

About Roneil Walcott

Roneil Walcott
Roneil Walcott is an avid sports fan and freelance reporter with a BA in Mass Communication from COSTAATT. Roneil is a former Harvard and St Mary's College cricketer who once had lofty aspirations of bringing joy to sport fans with the West Indies team. Now, his mission is to keep them on the edge of their seats with sharp commentary from off the playing field.

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  1. A lot of these so called licensed coaches can’t coach period just look at the quality of youth players nowadays its horrible no more development its all about w’s so they producing a set of poor technical and tactical footballers with inflated egos

  2. This topic should have been debated a long time ago because once you are not in a certain circle you never get call on courses im from Matura and its always some excuse about next one or we forget to send the message always some excuse

  3. I am more qualified than most coaches in Trinidad Lasana

  4. It wasn’t directed at you tho Travis Mulraine was really just reading thru the comments and asking that question since the very first time Stuarty name was ever mentioned….

  5. Not surprised Bass Cleff nor am I questioning stuarty ‘s credentials,nor do I even really care who gets the jobs because I am doing other things with my life. My argument is mainly the secrecy in which these courses are done , I am saying it can be used as a source of generating much needed income for a federation that forever strapped for cash or in need of funding.it has to stop sometime otherwise it’s just failure

  6. And to answer Barry Roach ,how many coaches do we have working abroad above the academy level? Not even a handful,so of course we have to for the most part rely on local success by you know what? Alot of coaches get selected for teams with little or no success at any level it’s all about who like who etc etc

  7. I agree Justin DeFreitas, but the opportunity to improve your coaching education is not as free and fair as it should be,so while most coaches want certification it’s not as straightforward as it should be.

  8. It Still does not make any sense who are the coaches cause none of them does give the young players a chance who deserve it cause its all about who u kw or who kw u

  9. Yes some do it at present sky as defence force Blast for jab as i said a few clubs has development

  10. Lets be real the pro clubs go around and corral the best youths and bring them to play for them or they take a coaching school and let them play under their name like SHKY and Defence Force

  11. These are the individuals our youths are place under towards development

  12. North East stars is being hampered by the TTFA grass roots eastern counties program they rely strickly by one Philbert Charles better known as fowly who has no coaching education at present since somewhere around 1998 went Germany did not have the funding to do the license and was allowed to observe recieved a patapatiance certificate and since that time to present has not done any refresher course yet still he is in charge of eastern counties program

  13. Yes however is weeks personally developing his players no they are adopting teams Andy from Brasil East Trinidad teams called blast whom was by Caledonia first an the well known hughead who is at central presently at present club sando w connection north east stars to name a few are the ones developing there own players .

  14. Jus Lacky Matthew Bartholomew what else they expected lol

  15. You have a valid point Mr Weekes if they can’t defeat you in any competition , what justification they have to say there are better than you ?

  16. Lord help the future of football

  17. Being a devil’s advocate and just asking a question. Is it that once you are successful at the local club level, you should be afforded the opportunity to coach the national team?

    • Well Barry, we pick players based on form and performance, right? Shouldn’t the same hold true for other positions like coach and administrators too?

    • Agreed, however if you refer to my previous question it specifically refers to the local club level. One of the questions I would want answered is why are you successful at the “local” club level?

    • It is never the only gauge eh Barry. Otherwise countries would just pick all the available players from their championship winning team and that is that.
      But I would think success is an important criteria, even though it is not the only one.

  18. Cliquism is rank and prevalent in zones in national teams .
    Persons with experience and a record are left back for partners and friends.
    Just look at the Womens programs ,where are the coaches who worked with Pellerud ?
    How was this new set Selected?
    Was it it based on their record ?
    These are National teams not experimental or give a person a chance things

  19. Travis Mulraine i never discount experience but look internationally and you will see that all coaches need to be qualified. Iceland is smaller than tt in population yet all their coaches are qualified. I agree that the programs must be available to all and that would enhance our coaches’ abilities. Nobody goes to an unqualified doctor for an operation

  20. Certain zonal coaches are not given fair opportunity we are victims to the recucle process and failure look at latapy constantly failing at all levels stearn John no coaching education an straight to national senior team when last has a youth team progressed out of Caribbean qualifying round under these elite coaches failure after failure an yet still they are choosen

  21. This is a sad situation indeed. If teams are winning at Pro Level, we should be looking at who and why are influencing it and try get them involved at national level. It’s obvious bias exist in the selection of coaches here…especially at this level.

    • Kirwin Jabloteh has a notorious reputation for recruiting the best youth players in the country. They have for years assembled teams for these tournaments which to some degree may explain their success.

    • Assembling talent is part of the equation to winning. Getting the talent into a cohesive unit is another. Any fujctional organization should want to tap into successful leadership strategies.

    • Kester, coaching and player management needs to take place even if they are recruiting players…they’re still winning titles. Might actually be a plus if Jabloteh has experience in that domain

  22. Correct, two wrongs do not make a right

    • Oh so that did in fact happen??? Well then whilst I agree two wrongs don’t make it right, I’m saying he who is without sin then by all means… go ahead and cast the first stone…

  23. But didn’t Joe Public coaches get national cosching jobs under Jack too? It is also alleged that some coaches once aligned to JP or Jack got the oppirtunity to go abroad to become certified and this was again allegedly funded by the TTFA and not JP club itself… now these are all allegations so can someone please correct or enlighten me… now I’m in no way saying that makes these present allegations right eh…

  24. I am highly qualified and experienced hiwever overlooked.

  25. I m sure we’ve heard of people coming into a company with a degree but a worker without a degree but with experience has to teach them the job , so when applying for a job the prerequisites will ask for certain qualifications this doesn’t mean that the holder will be a success at the job

  26. Raymond Timkee was doing a great job they voted him out and voted David John Williams so take that

  27. Does a certificate make you a good coach, what’s the success ratio,

  28. Can I suggest ….corruption.

  29. Charity begins at home….this is exactly how it is in this space we call Triniland…

  30. I know it’s not as simple as selecting the coaches for the most consistent winning youth teams, or is it? Anyway this is an interesting revelation.

  31. Yes Brent Elder I just read it . Is about time somebody expose them

  32. Mark Lewis Paul Edrell Voisin Richard Ap Mustangs Clem Elder

  33. Another issue I have with the TTFA ,TTFF & now TTFA is that these courses are so top secret that coaches interested in furthering their education locally might have to call upon Julianne Assange to leak their details. Why not advertise these courses and run them on a yearly basis instead of I tell a friend who tell a friend as is the go in sweet T&T. This can also be a way of generating funds for the association since coaches would be willing to pay for their licenses from C to A

  34. Hannibal Najjar

    Whatever the level, wherever in the world, when any team is as dominant as Jabloteh is seen to be at the Youth level in T&t, that is more than a jab, but follows-up with power punches, – this is obviously the case providing that all participating clubs are given the same opportunities as the other clubs – in this case, it clearly is.

    Congrats Jabloteh! Keep up the “jabbing” for as the late great Ali says, the smart jabber makes room for the “sleeper” punches.

  35. You’re so right Justin DeFreitas . But the experience most of the coaches at Pro league level has is quite good especially those who coached at the concacaf champions league level. I recently had a conversation with DJW and to be fair to him he intends to raise the bar by insisting all coaches in the pro league possess a UEFA A license which would qualify people like
    Anton Corneal who have never coached a professional team local or otherwise. Does that mean he wouldn’t succeed? Of course not but I think experience is the best thing a certificate will thing make it better for validation.

  36. I just knew coach selection would become an issue

  37. Isa Mohammed and Fevrier, what qualifications they got?

  38. If we ask coaches to produce their coaching certification you will see bacchanal

  39. We get the administration we deserve. Seems like it in this country. Both in national and in football politics..

  40. Jabloteh winning all youth divisions, Central winning the last three PFL titles, W Connection not won a PFL Title in five/six years and all programs and development under Connection??? Hahaha, crabs in a barrel mentality prevails again… transparency none existent

  41. Too many people walking around with a crtificate of participation and sayig they are qualified

  42. The real question should be are coaches in T& T qualified? I hear a so called former national coach now doing the level B of TTFA Program

  43. Until everyone unifies and demands transparency and respect, nothing will change. Too many selfish interests and agendas exist to allow the requisite changes to propagate and flourish in my opinion..

  44. David John-Williams (during his successful campaign to be elected TTFA president):
    “Nothing I say to the public, whether I resign as W Connection president and CEO or promise them faithfully that there will be no conflict of interest, Trinidad and Tobago will not believe me. If I am elected and I operate faithfully, they will believe me. That is the only way. History will absolve me.”
    “The only way I can remove that stigma is through my performance as president of the TTFA. That is the reality… When I leave office, somebody will say the man wasn’t biased towards W Connection.”

    • Earl Best

      Mr Liburd, that is a typo, no? “When I leave office, somebody will say the man wasn’t biased towards W Connection.”

      Yuh realise yuh write “Somebody will say…” when yuh mean “Nobody will say…?”

      Oh shucks, sorry. Ah now realise is DJW talking; like the politicians, he think everybody foolish. Or blind and deaf.

    • Againa Lasana – personal ambition has trumped integrity and common sense. This guy look d promising and now he has changed to be like all the others that were before him. Corrupt and totalitarian type of management of the TTFA. What is he hoping to get into Concacaf? What is his motive because history will not absolve him so far it will condemn him.

    • Sad part is that it’s not the office that changes people. Something not right with our culture.