Life under DJW: reviewing TTFA president’s campaign promises and how teams fared during his term

On 30 November 2015, W Connection owner David John-Williams was elected for a four year term as Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) president after two rounds of voting at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain.

In tomorrow’s AGM, on 24 November 2018, John-Williams must convince football stakeholders that he deserves the right to see out his tenure, as he faces a no confidence motion by board member and Trinidad and Tobago Super League (TTSL) president Keith Look Loy.

Photo: TTFA president David John-Williams (right) performs a duet with former Calypso Monarch, Cro Cro, at the launch of the National Elite Youth Development Program at the Trinidad Hilton on 14 October 2016.

So what happened in between?

Roughly a week before the 2015 election, John-Williams unveiled a glossy 38 page manifesto, which he claimed would be “the framework and road map for Trinidad and Tobago football under my instruction—and you can hold me to it.”

So how did he do?

John-Williams’ manifesto made five pledges:

  1. To improve the image of the TTFA by enhancing its credibility through transparency;
  2. To lead TTFA through the stages in transforming it into a new TTFA—hence redefining its vision, mission, core values and outlining its operating principles;
  3. To incorporate leading football nationals in assisting local bodies with the creation of a football council;
  4. To conduct the activities of the TTFA at all levels in a manner that is consistent with the highest ethical and moral standards of Trinidad and Tobago football and the world at large;
  5. To foster a professional approach to football in Trinidad and Tobago.

To date, there is no football council in operation. Whether he succeeded in any of his other four promises is another matter.

Photo: TTFA president and W Connection owner David John-Williams (centre) greets players (from right) Hughtun Hector, Alvin Jones and Maurice Forde before kick off against Police FC in the TTFA FA Trophy final at the Ato Boldon Stadium on 8 December 2017.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/CA-Images/Wired868)

His promises for local football included: a 12-team Pro League with promotion and relegation with the Super League; a 10-team professional women’s league; a Tobago team in WOLF competition and/or the proposed women’s pro league, qualified coaches in all football academies and schools; funding for all TTFA members; attachment courses at European and South American clubs for Pro League and TTSL goalkeeper coaches; and the inclusion of all stakeholders “from grassroots up” in kit negotiations.

Regarding the business of football, John-Williams vowed: to source six gold, 30 silver and 20 bronze corporate sponsors for TTFA; lobby for NLCB funding; snag local and foreign television rights deal for international friendlies; and a season ticket holder programme.

The national teams were promised: a clear policy for national team selection; random drug testing; a local men’s team in year-round training; a year-round national U-13 programme with two training sessions per week and minimum of six local and one overseas friendly international per year; a year-round U-15 programme with three training sessions per week and minimum of four local and three overseas friendly internationals per year; a year-round U-17 programme with minimum of three local four international friendlies per year; a year-round combined U-20 and U-23 programme with one training session per week and B international games in every FIFA match window; a feasibility study for a pension plan; insurance for players; a national football hall of fame; an assistance programme to retrain from national players based on need; and national leagues and youth development structure for Futsal and Beach Soccer.

Photo: Kareem Perry (centre) and his teammates juggle the ball during Trinidad and Tobago National Futsal Team practice in March 2016.
(Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/CA-images/Wired868)

John-Williams listed his “priority projects” as: Tobago football (male and female), players’ welfare and benefits, home for football, Futsal and Beach Soccer, the business of football, player passport, and the TTFA’s image and reputation.

He promised Tobago that they would have: their players are properly scouted for potential national duty; a Tobago team in the Pro League; and a guarantee that they would host a minimum of two international games per year, two Pro League knock out semifinals and one cup final per year, the TTFA FA Trophy every four years, and referees, coaches and administrative courses.

The TTFA president did deliver the season ticket holder programme, a NLCB deal for two youth teams and, in highly contentious circumstances, the home of football. But there is little sign of much of the other promises.

“I want to tell Trinidad and Tobago they are getting a president who will set an example and will do anything for football that is legal to improve the game,” John-Williams told Wired868, after his electoral success on 30 November 2015. “If I have to pick up paper, I will do that. You won’t find a jacket and tie president here, if you understand what I mean.

“I will work hard for the game to bring the pride back to Trinidad and Tobago at all levels… We need to be 50 and above to really market the Trinidad and Tobago brand (and) get greater television revenues.”

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago right back Alvin Jones (right) smashes a long ranged free kick towards the USA goal during 2018 World Cup qualifying action at the Ato Boldon Stadium on 10 October 2017.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/CA-Images/Wired868)

Trinidad and Tobago were ranked 54th in the world at the time. At present, the Soca Warriors are 93rd.

The Warriors were quarterfinalists in two Concacaf Gold Cup tournaments under John-Williams’ predecessor, Raymond Tim Kee. Since then, T&T twice failed to qualify for the competition at all—although they are assured of an automatic berth at the 2019 Gold Cup due to a change in the format.

Here is how the TTFA’s other national teams fared, directly before and during DJW’s tenure:

(Men’s Under-20 Team)

Before DJW: Caribbean champions and fourth in six-team 2014 Concacaf group behind eventual runner-up Panama, USA and Guatemala;

With DJW: Finished fourth in Caribbean and third in 2016 Concacaf group below Costa Rica and El Salvador; In new 2018 format without qualifying series, T&T finished fourth—below Suriname and Puerto Rico—in Concacaf group;

(Men’s Under-17 Team)

Before DJW: Third in Caribbean tournament and bottom of six team 2015 Concacaf group;

With DJW: Failed to advance past 2016 Caribbean group stage despite playing at home;

Photo: Haiti star Steeve Saint Duc (right) tries to take the ball past Trinidad and Tobago right back Kerdell Sween during 2017 Under-17 World Cup qualifying action in Couva on 17 September 2016.
Saint Duc scored once as Haiti won 2-0.
(Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)

(Men’s Under-15 Team)

Before DJW: Did not participate in 2013 Concacaf competition;

With DJW: Finished bottom of 2017 Concacaf bracket after scoring once and conceding 21 goals in four matches—including 8-1 loss to Jamaica;

(Women’s Senior Team)

Before DJW: Caribbean champions and losing 2014 Concacaf semifinalists, ranked 48th in the world—after being inactive for final year of Tim Kee’s term;

With DJW: Caribbean runner-up and defeated in group stage of 2018 Concacaf competition; ranked 52nd in the world;

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago defender Arin King voices her frustrations on Instagram and urges the TTFA to support the team for their Women’s World Cup qualifying series next month.

(Women’s Under-20 Team)

Before DJW: Second in CFU and fourth in 2014 Concacaf competition—led Costa Rica 3-1 in semifinal but eventually lose in extra time;

With DJW: Finish bottom of 2015 Concacaf group stage (albeit just days after he took office); finished bottom of 2018 Concacaf group stage, despite home advantage;

(Women’s Under-17 Team)

Before DJW: 2013 Caribbean champions and eliminated in Concacaf group stage;

With DJW: Eliminated in 2016 Caribbean semifinal round; eliminated in 2018 Caribbean group stage;

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago midfielder Afiyah Cornwall (right) powers past Grenada defender Abigail Adewunmi during 2018 Women’s Under-17 World Cup qualifying action at the Ato Boldon Stadium, Couva on 27 August 2017.
(Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)

(Women’s Under-15)

Before DJW: Finished third in 2014 Concacaf tournament;

With DJW: Finished second from bottom in 2016 Concacaf tournament and suffered record 22-0 loss to USA; forfeit 2018 Concacaf tournament after TTFA fail to secure visas in time.

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  1. I will say again every national coach and manager and staffing body should be fired on the spot. No one has the balls to stand for anything of value and just there for the fame , fortune. self-glory and money’None care about our soccer future. They refuse to rock the boat.Just yes men.

    • Can’t be for the money when you don’t get paid

    • Ok Trey but I mentioned other factors
      Also, when last have we qualified for a major tournament?
      Please enlighten me.

    • Raoul Roger Romain there are alot of factors that has significantly hampered our ability to qualify. But to say everyone’s in it for fame fortune and self glory is inaccurate. I understand your frustration though you have every right to be. I’m also frustrated and would like to have a bigger impact in paving the way forward but I think you’ll agree anyone accepting a job knows the circumstances and harsh conditions they have to try and make a miracle with.

  2. My I ask, What are the real objectives of TTFA at this point?

  3. Ancil Santana And who will be the Coach eh, leh meh guess Coach Terry Fenwick ent Them really good yes

  4. No Jacket an Tie President….there wasnt a jacket big enuff nor a tie long enuff to fit him…BIG FAILURE…we in more debt…less transparent…less marketable…lower ranked….teams completely inactive since he arrived…bring back TimKee… get Stephen Hart to come back as TD

  5. Well the only thing that he really accomplished is hiring a coach Dennis that will always be his puppet on a string eh hence the reason why our football continues to go backwards instead of forward. Them really good yes Brian Harry

  6. Lasana very nice work on the analysis! Having read his “manifesto”, I was left wanting. It’s easy for these guys not to be held accountable for their nonsense. He outlined several broad and poorly defined objectives which never came close to proper goals – a goal is measurable! Measurement is critical because ‘what gets measured gets done; and what gets rewarded gets repeated’. That DJW guy is the king of ruses- I bet if he would respond to your analysis he will try to hoodwink us that he accomplished a lot. Just like he keeps playing with the board and governance

  7. Listen the blind affiliation and dunce followers will continue. ECFU has been in a mess for years yet the teams in that area accept it. The leadership of ECFU has been destrying football for decades and everybody happy with that. Jack was lord of all in his time and no one asked a question about transperency. John Williams just using the Jack playbook. Our football is doomed because of the people ib charge. John Williams will survive the no confidence motion just like Jack did in 1981

  8. If he is left to manage the ‘Home of Football’ that will be mismanaged and lose money too. Get someone who is a team player willing to run the TTFA as part of a team and with transparency. No corners for anyone to hide in. There will be less money spent defending court cases which could have been avoided that way. Going forward make sure the job description and the Constitution state that anyone breaching the Constitution will be suspended immediately.

  9. Just like the politicians ah set ah lies just to be voted in the positions and after that it is always about their own agendas. Them really good yes

  10. The on field results are symptomatic of his failure as an organizational and administrative leader. Two of his handpicked VP’s on his slate opted to quit on him showing total lack of confidence in his ability to govern. The one finanacial audit completed was of his predecessor and it lacked transparency. The finance and technical committees were never formed, serious FA,s do not function without a strong technical committee. The immature, illogical and incompetemce of attempting to “stick up” Telemundo over televisiom rights displayed an organization without a sense of its place in the world, trying to punch way above its weight. The total debacle that will eventually be revealed at the Home of Football will be more prove of his total failure not only as a organizational and administrative leader but also as a general contractor.

  11. I hope there’s an independent organization overseeing the election.

  12. Just to be objective here. I guess the infield failings of the various teams land totally in the lap of DJW or any other president? The coaches, players, fans, media bear no responsibility??? Just asking

    • Travis Mulraine Good leaders have no problem being held responsible for the failure of the organisation they lead.

    • Jo Ann I know this and I as always say I am not here to defend anyone but to change the narrative, everyone needs to take responsibility for the failings of our football. I don’t hear anyone calling Jack Warner name , he destroyed our football, left the TTFA bankrupt not a pigeon coup to call home , players today have no ambition or dedication , so what can you do with them, some coaches rather be on the golf course than on the football field scouting players , EVERYONE is responsible. Hart worked magic and gave us a false impression about the state of our football.

    • Travis Mulraine Dont think we need to change the narrative. We can actually have multiple front burner issues. Have to move on from previous administrations and fix the mess as it can actually get worse.

    • Was Hart’s team the only one to have any success under previous administration?
      I thought I put info on six or eight teams up actually.

    • But of course ppl will debate what they choose. My job is just to get relevant information to the table to facilitate such discussions. ?

    • Travis Mulraine
      What about this.
      What about that.
      What about the past.
      Travis you have been a loyal and devoted friend to DJW but the buck stops with the leader. He is ultimately held responsible. The athletes and Trinidad Football deserve better. The FIFA and the T&T government funded ‘Home of Football’ is now at stake also. It needs to be well managed. DJW has proven he is not up to the job.

    • Jack may have left the TTFA destitute but he didn’t leave it bankrupt. Tim Kee deliberately avoided bankruptcy so that the WC Warriors could get their money. His inability (not entirely his administration’s fault) to get timely audits completed, hampered funding from both the GORTT and FIFA. DJW was able to ride in on his coattails and complete the task of producing the audit. As a result the FIFA pipeline began to flow again, to the point that there was money for the grandiose “Home of Football,” but even then there was shenanigans. If we’re going to provide context then let’s provide the full context.

      John-Williams has been an abject failure as a President. His tenure has been one shrouded in nebulous financial dealings, questionable legal manoevering, disastrous football decision-making, poor leadership, poor administration of the sport locally and poor shepherding of both our fiscal and technical resources. “Everyone” isn’t responsible for this mess, unless by “everyone” you mean John-Williams and his handpicked cabal of ExCo members. Players and fans… and even fellow Board members were excluded from input on key decisions which have redounded much to the detriment of the FA.

      Stop the shit and call a spade what it is. John-Williams OUT!!

    • Jo Ann loyal you say , you are speaking from a position of ignorance, I just speaking from a position of understanding how the football system works. We hold the leader accountable for the team’s performance but are upset when he micro manages. If you wanna blame any president of the ttfa for a team’s performance go ahead. Keep all the incompetent coaches and players and blame the president,LoL. As to loyal , I can tell their is NO one in Trinidad football that has ever done Travis Mulraine any favours as a player or coach. Everything little thing I have I work 200% for it and GOD saw it fit to bless me.

    • Travis it is PRECISELY because he has chosen to micro manage that he is to be held accountable. Precisely on account of his interference, mismanagement and obfuscation that the FA needs to be rid of him. John-Williams OUT!!

    • Nigel S. Scott destitute not bankrupt? I only get a two in English please tell me the difference. I guess the forgetfulness is what have us in d mess we in as a nation

    • Nigel S. Scott whether DJW get fired or is kept on doesn’t really doesn’t impact on my life, I hope that Lasana Liburd Is as vigilant if a certain administrator from Arima get the nod.

    • Travis why not look at the manifesto promises made and then tell us if you’re happy with what he has delivered.
      Then look at the performances of the teams and tell us if our football is better off.
      You’re trying to distract or what?
      So if I own a restaurant and we are losing business because the food is bad and the service is horrible, Travis you will let me convince you that I’m a great businessman and it is not my fault that the chef can’t cook and the waitress has no manners?
      Honestly I find it very entertaining to look on and watch people contort themselves to make a 9 look like a 6…

    • You really need for me to explain to you the difference between destitute and bankrupt? Destitution is a subjective assessment of an entity’s (in this case) financial position. Bankruptcy is a legal status established by law. It’s not decided by how one perceives the financial picture to be, it is how the financial picture has been defined by a factual and legal process. However you wish to define destitute the TTFF/A definitely was not bankrupt.

      Whether DJW’s future affects you or not is a red herring, no one has said your future is tied to his, you have chosen to take unto yourself the role of Devil’s Advocate. If you see it fit to argue mitigation of his responsibility then see it fit to defend your position.

    • Travis there were some who said that Tim Kee would get an easy ride with Wired868. Then they said DJW is his partner so Wired868 will never say anything bad about him.
      And they used to say Jack Warner will find his price just now, don’t worry…
      So I just laugh at the idea that I would look the other way for anyone.

    • Travis Mulraine. Please don’t throw all athletes and coaches under the bus in your attempt to protect one man. There is a lot of amazing talent just waiting for the right conditions to thrive.

    • Jo Ann talent is luck, what you do with talent that God gave you is the real success, we are blessed with but no ambition or dedication all you have is failure

    • Lasana Liburd your record will be tested sooner or later, we’ll see if you’ll pass

    • Travis so it should be for everyone. Warner gave me a good habit as a journalist. He told me that every time I pick up a pen, he instructs his lawyers to be ready to scrutinize.
      For almost 20 years as a journalist, I always write expecting to be judged harshly and knowing the cost of an error.
      That’s fine. I welcome that and wouldn’t have it any other way.

    • Travis Mulraine Athletes to blame, coaches to blame, what about Jack the billionaire? Now Lasana to blame?

    • Travis Mulraine Hart supposedly worked magic and was UNJUSTLY fired and remains unpaid by YOUR favorite administrator to be replaced by two incompetent joystick men he could control. Your issue is that you redirect the narrative. Most of these hires were under DJW ….yes Jack Warner screwed ball but he isn’t here now is he? Is he currently making the decisions? Is he hiding documentations of accountability on our clock as we speak? Getting lawsuits against us…..having our teams NOT in training….delaying meetings to avoid answering for his offences. When this fat f*** stand in front god for judgement yuh think his argument to god will be well Jack Warner screwed Trinidad football over so why I can’t get a bligh? That belief that one guys’ f***up should justify my f***up is historically one of the dumbest arguments against right and wrong. DJW is f***ing up now as we speak and Jack Warner, Hilter, Trump, Idi Amin, Jim Jones don’t have one f*** to do with that.

    • Malik Johnson LoL, I hear Yuh, but as I say, coaches and players have to share in d blame for the state of our football.

    • Travis Mulraine I do agree players and coaches do have a part to play in it no doubt. Ah just trying to keep yuh honest brotha let’s not deny the true source of our current dilemma.

    • Malik Johnson I am w quite honest to be honest, but their are certain people clamouring for transparency , what were they doing when the real Pharoah was running d football? Enjoying the largesse , not a word , now they calling for transparency. I say hush and let other people talk. You see malik I am a student of history so I can’t, and won’t forget . The average African mind forgets too quickly that’s due to the conditioning done during and post slavery

    • Travis most of the people commenting in this thread was making plenty noise when Jack was running the TTFA, even when he was the “Special Advisor.” So unless you willing to call people out by name yuh can’t really say that “certain people” was quiet then.

    • You didn’t reach this far would out being very intelligent Nigel S. Scott , I don’t need to call names or name. You know exactly who I talking bout

    • Travis, does the call for transparency have merit? Yes nor no? If your beef is with the messenger and/or the messenger’s history, then am I right to assume that you feel people like Shabazz should not be around our national football teams? Do the words of gangsters, drug addicts, criminals ring hollow if/when they implore the youth to stay away from that life? When you say hush and let other people talk, who are these other people? There was always ample opportunity to talk. That fact is, not only people in the TTFF/TTFA benefitted from Jack Warner. Even you were involved as a player and coach with Joe Public, not so? Would you consider it fair if your were painted with the same broad brush?

    • Nigel Myers valid questions all day

    • Nigel Myers and Malik Johnson I was a player then a player/coach at Joe Public, I would say I benefited from the most infamous incident of my career that being when it hit the referee’s card from his hand in 1998. I was sent to counselling and there I learnt to channel my aggression in a positive manner. Besides that I have benefited NOTHING from my association with Joe Public and Jack Warner. I am the only prominent player of my generation to have not played in a single WC qualifier or Gold Cup match. When men was making $5,000 U.S. per game with TnT I was living off my pro league salary and hoping to make a final 18 to as they say eat a food. My best break was at Jabloteh when I became national captain then we had the player strike because we didn’t even have bottled water at practice. So my brother as I mentioned earlier NO ONE has done Travis Mulraine any favours so I can talk about anybody without them reminding me of any favours. KLL runs the TTSL like its his own competition and leaves no stone unturned fair or foul to have Rosa win the league, I am sure you are familiar with our very public falling out earlier this year. He doesn’t have the moral authority to criticize or demand answers from DJW.for e.g. it is alleged that an employee of high standing in the TTSL enquired from Keith how come a certain referee names Mc Phew always doing games for Rosa, to which KLL replied “Mind yuh effing business and do your job ” Now I have been a player with Connection and I have never seen or heard of any attempt by DJW or Jack Warner for that matter trying to influence referees. But I guess all this explanation would be in vain. Let’s see

    • “It is alleged…” smh.

      Travis you letting whatever personal issues you have with KLL distract your focus from what is being discussed in this thread. It very well could be as you suggest that KLL lacks the moral authority to criticize or demand answers from DJW. It also could very well be that since no one else seems willing to do it, that he is the person best positioned to yet do so.

    • Travis Mulraine I won’t pretend to understand your position on certain things or beef with KLL … It may well be justified I dunno but here is the thing and in retrospect the question……do you believe that DJW has done a good job and do you believe he should be removed or not? Because essentially this is what it comes down to…….doesn’t matter how we turn it or tweak it it who doing the move …… that is the question and that’s the narrative. The other aspect that needs to be reconfirmed is that KLL is NOT the only one who wants him removed…..WE ALL DO ….. well most of us ……

    • Travis, benefitted from Jack Warner in that you were playing for a team owned by him and receiving a salary (I assume). Not talking about him granting you favors. Based on the rest of your post, it is quite clear that your quarrel is with the messenger. That’s fine, it’s your prerogative. However, at this point, I am more focussed on the message. We can talk about all of that other stuff in a separate thread, as it is a separate topic

  13. And nobody should be angrier than Tobago…

  14. We should judge all politicians by their deeds and compare promises with what they actually delivered.

  15. Lol I remember the manifesto well and all the promises were exactly what any TTFA regime should aim for but as it was in the beginning it still is today…. words.

    Just words on paper.

  16. Kudos, Lasana! Chalkdust, we need a calypso on this for 2019.

  17. ..And excelllent analysis Lasana. Hard facts don’t lie..

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