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SPORTT lays off seven more employees at New Year’s; Jan apologises to Whiteman

The Sports Company of Trinidad and Tobago (SPORTT) started 2018 with another round of downsizing as seven employees were told that their contracts will not be renewed by the state body.

The departing employees are Abdul Assalam (projects coordinator), Sheldon Jardine (sport officer), Donna Hashanah (clerical officer), Khadeesha Worrell-Sobers (project assistant), Michelle Burke (receptionist), Jason Atkinson and Joseph Sookermany (construction coordinators).

Photo: The Trinidad and Tobago flag flies over the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva during an exhibition match between a FIFA/TTFA XI and a Ministry of Sport/SPORTT XI on 10 April 2017.
(Courtesy Sean Morrison/Wired868)

The exit dates were listed between 31 December 2017 and 2 January 2018 and Wired868 understands that the employees were informed two days before Christmas that their contracts would not be renewed, which means that they got roughly a week’s notice.

Four of the departing employees are from the Projects Department, which is responsible for construction works and the rehabilitation of sporting grounds, including the relaying of fields, construction of pavilions and other civil works.

SPORTT has attempted to cover for the loss in manpowerby reshuffling its remaining staff.

Last year, SPORTT, which is chaired by Dinanath Ramnarine, fired CEO Adam Montserin, Anthony Blake (facility manager), Jeewan Kowlessar (internal auditor), Naveen Maraj (legal officer), Mellie Price (project administrator) while the remainder of the contracts of Darryl Stewart (procurement supervisor), Raj Ramtahal (senior manager facilities maintenance) and Travis Watson (project coordinator) was bought out.

Another three resignations and the dismissal of a driver saw SPORTT release 19 workers in roughly three months. Since Sport Minister Darryl Smith came into office, the size of the Projects Department has been halved from between 25 to 30 employees to around 12 to 15 today.

Photo: Prime Minister Keith Rowley (centre) greets SPORTT chairman Dinanath Ramnarine (left) while Sport Minister Darryl Smith (right) looks on during the opening of the Brian Lara Cricket Stadium in Tarouba on 12 May 2017.
Ramnarine was head of the TTFA electoral committee in 2015.
(Courtesy Sean Morrison/Wired868)

Incidentally, Smith, who is also Diego Martin Central MP, revealed last year that Government is continuing with plans for a Diego Martin Sport Complex, which is expected to cost taxpayers roughly $130 million.

At present, of the country’s five main national stadia, only one, the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva, is near to fully functional while the Hasely Crawford Stadium (Port-of-Spain), Mannie Ramjohn Stadium (Marabella), Larry Gomes Stadium (Malabar) and Dwight Yorke Stadium (Bacolet) are in varying stages of disrepair.

In mid-January, Trinidad and Tobago hosts the CONCACAF Women’s Under-20 Championship with 14 games scheduled to be played in just 10 days. All 14 matches are carded for the Ato Boldon venue.

Roughly 50 SPORTT employees—-more than half the current workforce-—will reach the end of their contracts between 31 January and 28 February and more downsizing is expected.

Acting CEO Jason Williams informed workers last year that SPORTT is “in serious financial difficulty” and the best they can look forward to is month-to-month contracts.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago and Honduras play under a tower of malfunctioning lights during World Cup 2018 qualifying action at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva on 1 September 2017.
(Courtesy Sean Morrison/Wired868)

In related news, former SPORTT director and national cricketer Imran Jan has apologised to director Phillip Whiteman for suggesting that he did not disclose his relationship with Shanghai Construction Group (SCG) when he joined the State board.

Jan described the assertion as “an attempt to discredit Mr Whiteman,” who is the stepfather of national cyclist Njisane Phillip, and apologised for any distress caused to the contractor and his family.

SPORTT’s work with SCG is believed to have been behind last year’s forensic audit, which led to the dismissal of Montserin, Blake and another six employees. The details of the audit were neither made public nor shared with the dismissed workers.

(Imran Jan retraction)

I wish to retract statements that I endorsed and further assisted to be published against Mr Phillip Whiteman, Director of the Sports Company of Trinidad and Tobago Limited (SPORTT). In several media publications, excerpts of a letter dated the 30th October 2017 to the Board of SPORTT from Mr Richard McFarlane, former Director of SPORTT were published.

I publicly endorsed the contents of the said letter as well as assisted in its creation and dissemination together with Mr Richard McFarlane, other personnel within SPORTT and others outside of SPORTT.

Photo: Football fans negotiate traffic en route to the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva for Russia 2018 World Cup qualifying action between Trinidad and Tobago and USA on 10 October 2017.
(Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)

The said letter made implications as to Mr Phillip Whiteman’s failure to declare to the Board of Directors of SPORTT his Directorship of Ashana Civil Mechanical Contractors Limited (Ashana) and more particularly its sub-contractual agreement with SCG International (Caribbean) Limited. The said letter made implications as to discussions held by the Board of Directors of SPORTT regarding SCG International (Caribbean) Limited in that Mr Whiteman due to his perceived interest may have influenced these discussions to his benefit.

I wish to categorically retract all such statements and further state that this was not in fact the case. Mr. Whiteman did in fact disclose upon his appointment as Director to the Board of Directors of SPORTT his Directorship with Ashana and that Ashana had a sub-contractual agreement with SCG International (Caribbean) Limited.

All Board members of SPORTT were made fully aware of this inclusive of myself as a former Director of SPORTT and Mr McFarlane.

Furthermore, the discussions with respect to SCG International (Caribbean) Limited had no bearing on Ashana nor did it derive any benefit to Ashana or Mr Whiteman in his personal capacity.

The letter dated the 30th October 2017 was an attempt to discredit Mr Whiteman for which I wish to publicly apologise. I hereby extend my regrets and apologies to Mr Phillip Whiteman and his family for any embarrassment, distress and upset I have caused due to this publication.

About Lasana 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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47 comments

  1. The Diego Martin Sports Complex must be stopped based on the following factors: (1) Substandard management of current sports complexes in T&T. (2) Shabby/inferior maintenance of current sports complexes (fields, tracks, gym etc) in Trinidad and Tobago. (3) The draconian treatment meted out to legitimate sports clubs when club managers and authorized sports personnel request training time at such facilities.

  2. very interesting information.
    a MUST READ.

  3. Why he don’t down size his body

  4. Really sounds like Jan has been silenced by a legal document. If Whiteman really declared this before how is it that he was still allowed to operate in the matters which involved the Chinese? This is quite evident in the video that was shared with his voice blaming the Chinese for sabotaging the pools. The paving job done by his company was of a poor standard to begin with. Which is quite evident if you look at all the patchwork that was done. The pools are not even using all the systems to the fullest and it has nothing to do with any sabotage. No one knows how to operate the machinery there. All that were trained are no longer there. One only hopes the international swimming body does not get hold of this news. It can mean the loss of certification of the facility. And what about the kiddie pool? Did the Chinese ever complete it? Is it being used yet by the public? And then we have stadiums with no light others with no electricity and new facilities with no AC and no fire alarms. Because no one left knows how to maintain them. All the people with knowledge are gone. Yet they add to the list by sending home women some who have new born babies! No compassion. No heart. Only study their own pockets. Release the audit findings please! Why not? Because they are none. And 8 people are on the breadline. Add 7 more now. More to come. 8

  5. The TTFA, Ministry of Sports, SportTT, Minister of Tourism and Prime Minister can not allow a CONCACAF tournament of 14 matches in 10 days to be played on one pitch. If they do its a dereliction of duty and completely irresponsible.

  6. We need the implementation of a strategic plan for sports and infrastructure in our country. 14 matches in 10 days lunacy!!

  7. ..Further, TTFA is guilty of exposing the country to the threat of further international ridicule by offering to host a CONCACAF tournament in one stadium. Before the end of last season the Ato field was already badly in need of rest and repair. With rain always a possibility, if it falls as it has recently that field will be a disaster forcing the shifting of matches to other stadia with ridiculous kick off times..

  8. ..The state of our national stadia is the consequence of gross stupidity and negligence – across political administrations – over too many years. And we the public allow it. When USSF media laughed at the flooding at Ato many of us rallied to the national flag and the TTFA’s bull shit explanation. So today we have one national stadium where events could be staged after dark. The current bacchanal with the Minister of Sport is the least of our problems..

  9. Tony Maxwell Hatt do you know if they relaid the Hasely Crawford track since 2011?

  10. Meinolf Meier I think it is time you expose all the problems with the stadiums including the money that was wasted on the warmup track at the HCS. Have they paid you yet?

  11. comment 2:
    14 matches in 10 days???? the next joke.
    pls. tell me any stadium in the world that hosted such a number of competition games in such a short period.
    no stadium can guarantee equal and fair conditions for all matches under such circumstances.
    on top of all of that: are there still any people left in sportt company who can execute some maintenance works?
    have there ever been people with knowledge in maintenance?
    if there would have been the stadia would look much better than they do.

  12. comment 1:
    ato boldon the only nearly fully functional stadium?
    what a joke !!!
    1. the track is a desaster and is dangerous to the health of any athlet trying to use it.
    2. the stadium has no inner perimeter drain along the track.
    3. it has no outer perimeter drain as well.
    4. the functionality of the grass field sub soil drainage is very questionable.
    when it rains all water from the grand stand will float across the track to the longlines of the grass field.
    you certainly remember the flooding when the us team was training.
    i seriously cannot agree that this stadium is in anyway nearly functionable.
    and what about the lights? are they all fully working now?

  13. As my daughter would say “Big man thing Imran…” Well done!

  14. Re: Imran Jan; sounds like somebody get ah Christmas card from Phillips attorney, by the looks of that ‘retraction.’

    Regarding SPORTT, cutbacks aren’t necessarily a bad thing, save for the employees themselves. Question is what plans are there in place to ensure that the work continues in their absence? As for the CONCACAF U-20 Tournament, hope I’m wrong, but that seems an embarrassment in the making.

  15. What can we expect when politicians take charge of everything? I have said it before, and at the expense of repeating myself, anything these parasites put their hands on is destined to be screwed up.
    When ego driven idiots wish to micromanage everything, ti is what happens. And the puppets they hire lack the testicular fortitude to tell them they dong shit; they are often too happy for a 10 days with a big title and perks.

  16. How dey laying dem off?????.And dey contract up?????

  17. We have everything back to front in this country. But we want to produce athletes. So now that SPORTT has fired all those in charge of infrastructure we are heading for the latrine. Lasana Liburd you right oui… we not maintaining we just building … what a crock of crap

  18. If the National football team is training we get the luxury of lights

  19. When we go to Mannie Ramjohn we have a better track…but no lights after 6:00 pm… so we are screwed either way

  20. Ato Boldon Stadium is a mess for athletic training… the track is worn down to concrete

  21. No disrespect to Diego Martin, but it is ludicrous, insane to build another sporting complex so close to the National Stadium facility, while that is in a state of disrepair, along with the other stadiums.

  22. How can 14 matches be played in 10 days at the same venue???
    Why wasn’t the $130million used to fix the 5 stadia? Instead of building a new one??
    I just asking eh..