Trinidad and Tobago National Youth Football Coordinator and Morvant Caledonia United head coach Jamaal Shabazz was today effectively appointed as technical director of the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association’s (TTFA) women’s programme.
Shabazz’s new portfolio appears to mirror that of outgoing Italian coach Carolina Morace as he will serve as head coach of the Women’s National Senior Team and Under-20 Team and also oversee the Under-17 programme.
A TTFA statement said the decision was made today by its Board of Directors.
“Consistent with the contract terms of his engagement with the TTFA (Head of Programmes), the Board of the Association has appointed Mr Jamaal Shabazz to oversee the Women’s programme with immediate effect,” stated the TTFA, “and he will take charge of the Senior Women’s programme from tomorrow as well as the Under-20 Women’s programme.
“Mr Shabazz will also oversee the Under-17 Women’s programme with the assistance of coaches Joanne Daniel and Desiree Serjeant, who were understudies to Miss Morace and Miss Williams. The TTFA will appoint a full-time head coach of the Under-17 Team immediately following the Caribbean First Round of qualifiers to be played in Trinidad in August.”
The TTFA decision draws a line under the tenure of Morace and her team of Nicola Williams, Elisabetta Bavagnoli and Manuela Tesse. Morace tendered her resignation last Friday, claiming that her contract had been “terminated for just cause.”
Morace, a former Italy international and Canada World Cup coach, had another two years left on her deal with the TTFA but had allegedly gone unpaid for the last three months—supposedly on account of the local football body’s proposed method of payment through a third party, CONCACAF.
The TTFA, which is headed by president David John-Williams, declined comment on the reason for the departure of their much vaunted women’s coaching staff—after just under six months—but claimed that they tried hard to satisfy their former employees.
“No further details will be given at this time since we are under advisement from our attorneys in this regard,” stated the TTFA. “The TTFA, however, wants to go on record and state that every attempt was made (without their co-operation) to resolve whatever issues that may have appeared in the opinion of Miss Morace and Miss Williams that contributed to their departure.”
In their wake, Shabazz has been entrusted with the task of steering Trinidad and Tobago to the France 2019 Women’s Senior World Cup, the France 2018 Women’s Under-20 World Cup and the Colombia 2019 Women’s Under-17 World Cup.
Wired868 tried unsuccessfully to reach TTFA general secretary Justin Latapy-George and Shabazz for comment.
It is uncertain whether the position was offered to anyone else—Shabazz openly campaigned for John-Williams when he contested the post of Caribbean Football Union (CFU) president last year—or if the coach will vacate his other two substantial portfolios to lead the women team’s full-time.
The TTFA is not believed to have a functioning technical committee at present after three members, including chairman Dexter Skeene and vice-chairman Dr Alvin Henderson, quit following the appointment of men’s coach Dennis Lawrence. A fourth member, Bertille St Clair, has not been attending meetings for health reasons, which leaves only Jinelle James and Muhammad Isa as active members.
Isa was appointed as technical director on the recommendation of John-Williams while James also holds a TTFA position as women’s team manager.
Latapy-George promised repeatedly to clarify whether the TTFA does indeed have a technical committee but to date has has failed to do so.
Shabazz, for his part, said he was thrilled to rejoin the women’s programme.
“It’s unbelievable that at this stage in my life, I would be back in the women’s game,” he told the TTFA Media. “Together with the current senior team, we gave our lives for this programme. The opportunity is there for us to complete a journey which we started together in 2000.
“We have a chance to continue to work hard for our country and ensure that this crop finishes their careers on a high note and that women’s football in our country reaches a milestone.”
The 53-year-old Shabazz was head coach of the Women’s National Senior Team between 1998 and 2011 when he stepped down to “make way for a new coach with fresh ideas.”
A Jamaat-al-Muslimeen member, Shabazz was involved in the 1990 insurrection and was once held for 53 days at the Miami Detention Centre after entering the United States with improper travel documents.
However, in matters of football, Shabazz holds a UEFA ‘B’ license and FIFA coach instructor’s license. He steered Caledonia to the Caribbean Championship title in 2012 while, a year earlier, he led Guyana to the CONCACAF World Cup qualifying semi-final round at the expense of the Soca Warriors.
He worked with several senior members of the current Women’s National Senior Team before, including Maylee Attin-Johnson, Ahkeela Mollon and Kennya “Yaya” Cordner, who all quit the side recently after fall-outs with Morace.