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Trinity Moka sack North Intercol-winning coach; Minguel laments dismissal for off-field incidents

Trinity College (Moka), the 2016 North Zone Intercol champions, have axed football coach Marlon Minguel from the position which he held for the last six years. But Minguel’s firing, Wired868 understands, has nothing to do with his team’s performance on the field of play.

Instead, the coach was allegedly shown the door due to his failure to prevent two off-the-field incidents involving members of his family during the 2016 and 2017 Secondary Schools Football League (SSFL) seasons.

Photo: Signal Hill’s Jalanie James (right) holds off Trinity College’s Mulik Duke during SSFL action at the Canaan Recreation Ground, Tobago on 2 November, 2017. Looking on (far right, standing) is Moka coach Marlon Minguel.
(Copyright Allan V Crane/CA-Images/Wired868)

“This (decision) has nothing to do with football,” Minguel told Wired868. “(Principal) Mr Carl Tang said there were a few incidents between myself and family, which put the footballers—and, by extension, the school—at risk. And the image for the school was not a good one.”

In the 2016 incident, one of Minguel’s close relatives had to be banned from attending Trinity’s home games for the remainder of the season after she was among the spectators who stormed on to the field during a Trinity home game which they lost to St Augustine Secondary in Moka. Spectators invaded the field of play—one of them even grabbed the match ball—and questioned the referee Sheldon Gomes’ decision after he allowed a perceived dangerous tackle against Trinity’s Saleem Henry to go unpunished.

Additionally, on 27 September, 2017, when Trinity fell to a 0-1 defeat to Fatima College on Mucurapo Road, another close Minguel relative and a former Trinity College player were involved in a heated argument with one Fatima College student during the course of the game. Some football banter turned sour when the Fatima student allegedly made a derogatory statement about the female relative and the ex-Trinity player jumped to the relative’s defence.

Trinity vice-principal Michelle Huggins-Watts intervened to restore calm, pulling the relative away from the scene and the game continued uninterrupted.

Photo: Trinity College (Mok) students support their team during Coca-Cola North Zone quarterfinal action against QRC at the Hasely Crawford Stadium on 13 November, 2017.
(Courtesy Sean Morrison/Wired868)

Minguel confirmed the occurrence of both incidents to Wired868 and said that, at a subsequent meeting between him and school officials, it was agreed that he could not be held responsible for actions which occurred on the sidelines while he was busy with his coaching activities.

Now, however, the man who brought Trinity their first North Zone Intercol trophy in 36 years has indeed faced repercussions for those actions.

Since January, Minguel had been trying to hold meetings with the school’s hierarchy in a bid to map out pre-2018-season plans. The norm has been that the “Trinity Lions” would start their pre-season work shortly after the Carnival season and Minguel and his players were growing concerned at the absence of any positive communication from the school administration.

A meeting was finally arranged for the coach with school staff members on 19 March. Former team manager and SSFL 2nd vice-president Tevon La Rose and current manager Shawn Lindsay were in attendance along with Huggins-Watts and principal Tang.

The former national youth player conceded that he had suspected something was amiss when all previous requests for a meeting with school officials fell on deaf ears. But he genuinely expected a fruitful brainstorming session to take place with the school officials and was caught completely off-guard by Tang’s announcement of his dismissal.

Photo: Trinity College (Moka) players celebrate with the 2016 North Zone Intercol trophy after edging St Anthony’s College on kicks from the penalty spot  at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port-of-Spain.
(Courtesy Wired868)

“As I walked into the meeting,” Minguel revealed, “Mr Tang said, ‘We’re sorry to inform you that we would have to part ways mutually.’ Why didn’t they tell me something in January?

“They should have been a bit more truthful with me instead of being deceitful. […] They should have let me know that this was their position directly after the 2017 season instead of leading me on.”

When the Trinity players got wind of the school’s decision to part ways with Minguel, led by midfielder Temesgn Tezera, they tried to intervene on his behalf. Their action resulted in Minguel’s getting a second 23 March meeting with the same school officials with the exception of La Rose. However, that meeting changed nothing since Minguel this week received a call from the school to the effect that it was not prepared to alter its original position nor was it prepared to meet the players again.

Contacted for clarification on the circumstances surrounding Minguel’s dismissal, Lindsay referred Wired868 to the principal and vice-principal, suggesting that it was not within his remit to speak on the incident.

However, the Trinity manager did say that he admired Minguel’s work ethic during the two years they had spent together with the team and he lauded him for his 2016 Intercol achievement as well.

Photo: Trinity College (Moka) fans support their team during National Intercol semifinal action against San Juan North Secondary at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port-of-Spain on 30 November, 2016.
(Courtesy Sean Morrison/Wired868)

“[Mr Minguel] was an excellent coach in his tenure and he brought us our first trophy in 36 years,” Lindsay said, “and for that he must be applauded.”

Principal Tang is currently in Australia. Wired868 contacted vice-principal Huggins-Watts for a comment but the esteemed pan arranger declined to say anything in the principal’s absence. La Rose also declined comment, opining that it would be a conflict of interest for him to speak on the matter.

Minguel expressed his gratitude for the efforts made by the players—in particular the Ethiopia-born Tezera—but he urged them to give their new coach the same respect they have given him over the years.

The former FC Santa Rosa youth coach hopes that the school will be fully aware of what football means to some of these youngsters.

“For some of these players,” he told Wired868, “if it wasn’t for football, I don’t know what would have happened to them. Some of these players come from so-called hotspot areas and football is their way out.

“As I told one of the technical staff members last year, every minute they spend with us is another minute away from the block.”

Photo: A Trinity College Moka technical staff member tries to cool down one of his players during SSFL action against St Benedict’s College at Moka on 19 October, 2017.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/CA-Images/Wired868)

The holder of a Dutch KNVB/TTFA ‘C’ Coaching Licence, Minguel expressed disappointment that Trinity’s—and his—2016 high has already evaporated. He suggested to Wired868 that the Trinity College administration may not hold football development in the high regard it deserve. Indeed, he says, the school officials have been treating the co-curricular activity as though it’s a nuisance.

“I was thinking that after the 2016 season, we would make moves to improve the football programme,” Minguel said. “I wanted to beat the iron while it was hot. We had more people interested in the football and there was a greater buzz […] but they were moving as though the football was becoming a burden.”

He recalled that, during one pre-season double session last year, he had had a heart-to-heart with principal Tang on the subject of raising funds to get better equipment and provide proper meals—among other things—for the boys on training days.

“When we had a double session,” Minguel explained, “I would have to pool money together and go and get either Chinese food or KFC for the boys and that is not adequate at all.”

Minguel indicated that Tang did not seem to take his idea of initiating fundraisers on board because there had been no action on the suggestion up to this day. But, he added, he had been able to strike up a partnership with Trinity’s Old Boys’ Association and that body had helped to fund the team’s training camp in August last year.

Photo: Trinity College (Moka) captain and play-maker Saleem Henry (left) weighs  his options during SSFL action against QRC in St Clair on 13 September, 2017.
(Courtesy Sean Morrison/Wired868)

“Nobody was helping me get things for football,” the former Trinity and St Augustine player lamented. “Often times, I had no assistant coach, trainer or doctor.

“We tried to set up a committee to try and raise funding. We were trying to link up a partnership with the alumni for the betterment of the boys and we eventually got a TT$9,000 donation […] for the camp last year.”

And after a 2016 season which saw goalkeepers Desean Bowen and Caleb Moore inspire a penalty shootout win over the mighty St Anthony’s in the North Intercol Final, the team had largely flattered to deceive during the 2017 season.

Although he had not been given a specific performance goal by the school administration for that season, Minguel told Wired868 in a pre-season interview that he wanted to see his team hit a level of consistency given their 2016 accomplishment.

Apart from diminutive striker and off-season transferee Kesean St Rose, Trinity struggled and finished 12th on the 15-team table. And in their North Zone Intercol title defence, the “Trinity Lions” could not roar past the quarterfinal round, where they fell 0-2 to QRC.

Photo: Trinity College (Moka) forward Kesean St Rose (right) and QRC defender Rawle Felix chase the ball during Coca-Cola North Zone quarterfinal action at the Hasely Crawford Stadium on 13 November, 2017.
(Courtesy Sean Morrison/Wired868)

There had been ups and downs before then as well. In Minguel’s debut season in 2012, prior to the formation of the Premier Division, Trinity were relegated in the North Zone. Starting a programme he dubbed “Work in Progress,” the coach led Trinity to win everything on offer in the Championship Division in 2013 since when they have been pretty much rubbing shoulders with the SSFL big boys.

For now, however, barring a surprise last-minute reversal, Trinity and Minguel, who hinted at upgrading his ‘C’ Coaching Licence, will be going separate ways.

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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60 comments

  1. “Lives of great men all remind us that we can make our lives sublime, and when departing leave behind us footprints on the sands of time”Coach Minguel you have left your footprints on the sands of time at Trinity Moka College please keep your head up and move on to greater things that will surely come along your pathway I know you can and will do it.God bless You.

  2. How could they penalize him for something that occurred with his family off the field?

  3. You know the depth and quality of what a coach brings when those he leads have nothing but the best to say….Marlon Minguel is a true inspiration and hope to many definitely one of the gems of football ….identifies the talent, encourages, motivates, works with and drives each to their personal best, even when they have doubt! Sometimes shifting is necessary to take us to greatness!

  4. Marlon bro. No malice intended. You obviously feel blindsided by the school and disappointed at being let go for reasons you don’t feel is justifiable. I know I’m speaking to the chorus when I say that things like that happen all the time, especially in Tnt with thin-skin, envious, and backstabbing leaders. The point I was trying to make in my earlier comment is you’ve done a great job at the school. You’ve taken the program to a different level. Your track record and accomplishments speak for themselves. As such you’re highly marketable and will not be on the breadline for very long. All the same, principals and school administrators will shy away from those they perceive will readily expose shortcomings of their program if and when a separation occurs. Hence my point to take the high ground and in spite of your unjustifiable termination, thank the school for the opportunity to coach their students, and refrain from making negative comments about the school administrators and their perceived lack of footballing ambition. I wish you nothing but the best and know that you’ll be back on the sidelines in the 2018 of the secondary school football league.

    • That is something that I will never understand eh why when these coaches either is in charge of a team, school team professional team and the national teams eh they don’t have nothing to say when knowingly that the administration is doing ah set ah madness especially when it comes to the exploitation of the players and the beautiful game eh and as soon as they get their throat buss eh they always start saying this and that and singing like a canary eh Them really good yes Carlos Lee

  5. Aunty kams would say ,I would not pre judge until all the facts of the investigation are before me

  6. ..The article and the investigation it is based on don’t implicate Minguel. I have known him since he was one of my national U20 players back in the early 1990s. The quintessential cool man. I shudder to think the school just got rid of him because they are tired of his family..

  7. ..Agreed Brian. But unless Minguel himself is implicated then they have punished an innocent person. No? .

  8. Trinity is an educational institution. Education is first! Football results are second. Any action that appears to challenge the educational objectives or required standards will be considered supreme to football pursuits. I’m glad that schools like Trinity, CIC and QRC exists. Thank God

  9. One way or the next he had to go

  10. There must be more to this than what’s been shared. Dig Lasana dig All the same the coach should be a bit more circumspect about his statements and not bad mouth the school/administration. Tnt is a small place and when one door closes another opens. You don’t want to be perceived as a difficult person to work with. Take the high road and thank the school for the opportunity they provided over the last 6 years.

    • This is Roneil’s story. But looks like he was thorough.
      So for now, maybe the ppl who know why they wanted a new coach don’t want to share that info.

    • Hi Carlos Lee, i too am disappointed at my father for doing the interview after I advised him on many occasions not to as I’m aware that this is the backlash he would have received. You sir are unaware of the many shortcomings of the school and should investigate before you comment such blasphemy. Ive seen my father faced the utmost worse and withheld not for a salary or “fame” but for his lions in the den. If i were him, i wasn’t thanking Trinity for anything. Have a great night.

    • Lasana Liburd firstly let me thank you for allowing my story space on your Wired868 forum…and also thank Roniel for the time he took out of his busy schedule to do the interview and by extension his excellent putting together or editing of the same, appreciate it much…secondly let me touch on a comment from Carlos Lee..All due respect sir when you say “bad mouth” what do you mean..?
      From the little knowledge I have and where I’m from “bad mouthing”someone or something is spreading rumors of such…Is either the story is True or False and in due time it will reveal itself…As we say nowadays Real Talk or Fake..When the principal returns its his choice to respond or not..You can judge after,however if you read carefully I gave an account of occurances… And I stand by everything that was said without fear… Whether the school is peeved about it I have no control over that,and the future is only controlled by the Almighty….And if being honest with my works and my words is not good enough or talking Truth shall make me suffer then so be it sir…”God is The Boss”..

    • Kaya Minguel go easy babz…I don’t think he was commenting blasphemy….he seems just concerned about the future and we both knw whose hand thts in..ppl shld stop live in so much fear but in truth…

    • Marlon Minguel Youth it is not my style to get involved in these matters, especially when I do not have the facts, but as soon as I read the article, the memory of our discussion at Grand Bazaar hit me square. Continue to grow in God’s Grace, because he controls your future. Stay blessed.

    • Kaya Minguel……advising your Dad against doing this interview means that we would not have gotten the words from the horse’s mouth….most times when that hapens we never get the TRUTH in the context of how things happen….
      I rate you even higher now Marlon Minguel…especially if injustice was done….
      Carlos Lee…..that advice is eqivalent to the self doubting and self hating standards from whence we were colonised…”you cant raise yuh voice at massah”….”if massah say is so…then is so”…..
      Even after you read that Marlon was calling the school repeatedly to arrange Pre Season preparations…your advice upon such is to THANK THE SCHOOOOOOOL…. “hit the high road and not come across as a hard person to work with”…
      Carlos…..Marlon was fired for a situation he had no control over….that is by far the worse advice you could have given Marlon..

    • Actually Dexter Cyrus, Marlon got fired for something that was the responsibility of the schools whose home game it was on the day.

    • Well Timothy boy…that makes it even worse…

    • Norris Ferguson..for sure manage..!

  11. This is probably why they really didn’t want to tell us the players the reason for firing our coach, there is no way he is responsible for what happened or could control what takes place off the field. This is very unjust, unfair, saddening and disappointing.

  12. One can only be blamed for something they had control over….
    Did Marlon say something to instigate the actions of his close relatives at the time….
    If not…
    Then Trinity Moka is using this aituation to get rid of Marlon….allllllll this aftrr he brought home a title…wawzzzz..
    Reminds me of a management i know all too well….

  13. seems like the coach has grounds for wrongful dismissal of these are the reasons put forward by the school.
    but here’s where the problem will come in: Did he have a contract? Did is spell out a scope of responsibilities? Did it enumerate termination clauses?
    Short answer: Nahhhh jed…whas all dem Babylon scene you dey wid hoss?

  14. It would appear that the most challenging football job in the country is that of a SSFL coach. Coaches winning trophies and getting sacked like Nigel Grosvenor, Michael Grayson, Marlon Minguel, Ahkeela Mollon, Dexter Cyrus…
    Meanwhile national coaches losing 22-0 and 8-1, finishing bottom of the table… And continuing to occupy their jobs like nothing happened without so much as an apology. :-/

  15. Maybe it is just the politricks as usual eh Them really good yes.

  16. This is utter nonsense how the hell is Marlon responsible for actions of others he can’t control everything shame on Trinity that’s why you will always be losers you don’t recognize loyalty

    • Hmm excellent Dion..Two things we tried working on up there.. “Losers”and “Loyalty”…Sometimes in d early years Trinity was beaten before the game start…..Changed that mentality…then Loyalty: getting d more quality players to stay when it was easier for them to go QRC or St.Anthony’s…!

    • Marlon Minguel Rastafari. Righouesnes would always prevail…stay strong and positive Marlon…

    • Yes that’s what I meant you changed the culture at Trinity from losers and now this is what you gotten for your hard work the last 6 plus years people don’t realise how difficult it is to keep players at a non football school

  17. So we have fans at games, albeit family or friends, but fans all the same. The responsibility of security at these games is the school’s management, not the coach.

    Manager of the team cannot speak on the decision concerning the team he’s going to manage until the principal says he can? What is in his remit that he can speak about?

  18. Marlon is a young coach with very good promise and potential. I’ve seen his passion and dedication to the profession, his players and employer. Mr. Principal and vice Principal and whom ever else were the decision makers, in case you didn’t know, in cases of crowd trouble it is usually the organization that is sanctioned and reprimanded.
    So Lasana unless y leave out a paragraph from this article, I’m forced to totally agree with Reynold F. Ollivierre’s statement.

  19. Mr. Minguel is one of the most dedicated coaches I ever came across .The next team he coaches will be happy to have him,he’s that good.

  20. Just a thought. Perhaps they promised the job to someone else.

  21. While I deplore the incidents that took place in 2016 and 2017, given the above reporting I cannot understand why that drastic step was taken by Trinity when the coach himself had little or nothing to do with these incidents. Was he spoken to by the authorities on either occasion? The coach is indeed a gentleman and has handled Trinity’s decision with aplomb. I feel for him.

  22. Ah think that I am going and apply for this job yes and give meh three ex Trinity real professional players a call to assist me Richard Chinapoo, Derick Lewis and Veron Skinner, . Them really good yes.