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“TTFA is taking advantage of coaches!” Primary school coaches still unpaid after six month wait

“The coaches came out and were willing to work and they did their best with what they got from the [TTFA],” said an official from the TTFA’s Nationwide Primary Schools Project, who spoke under condition of anonymity. “One of the things the [TTFA] does constantly is they take advantage of the coaches who want to give their all to the children…”

The Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) kickstarted its Nationwide Primary Schools project in January, in conjunction with title sponsor, Nu-Iron, and the Ministry of Education. The aim was to introduce 1,000 boys and 1,000 girls to the game, who would then be coerced into joining clubs and academies and, of course, playing for their schools.

Photo: Former Jamaica World Cup player Marcus Gayle (centre) is surrounded by young players in Speyside during the British Airways Tobago Legends Football Challenge community outreach programme.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

“This is going to introduce just the basics of the game with simple technique and probably very little tactical [work],” said TTFA technical director Anton Corneal, on 24 January 2018. “[…] If we would like to compete then this is the way. It needs to start here. There needs to be good coaching, well organised sessions, it needs to be a disciplined setting and the kids need to have fun and if we can do this then we will be on the right path.”

However, although the 2018 program closed in June, scores of coordinators and coaches hired by the TTFA remain unpaid and irate.

TTFA board member Keith Look Loy wrote to football president David John-Williams on 20 October, requesting information on money owed to the South-Eastern District—on behalf of coordinator Damian Daniel. But, two months later, there has still been no response.

“Mr Daniel wrote to me as a member of the board seeking assistance in receiving payment for work already performed by himself and his staff, particularly when funds were disbursed by the programme sponsor,” stated Look Loy. “I reiterate Mr Daniel’s concern that he and others should remain unpaid in a programme that was sponsored—with much fan fare—to the tune of US$100,000. I also wish to know if programme staff in other areas have been paid.

“Where has the Nu-Iron money gone?”

Daniel has also tried to contact John-Williams directly without any luck. His last such correspondence was issued yesterday on Thursday 6 December.

Photo: Sport Minister Shamfa Cudjoe (right) and TTFA president David John-Williams inspect the Home of Football project in Couva on 20 August 2018.
(Courtesy Ministry of Sport and Youth Affairs)

“I still receive daily messages from my coaches about the monies owed [and] I still tell them daily I have no new information for them,” stated Daniel, in an email to the TTFA president. “Christmas is coming and my staff [has] been hoping to receive some good news. I am not sure what needs to occur for us to receive what is owed and now after the fourth consecutive day of requesting information, I am not even sure of what needs to happen to get a reply to my emails.

“It is tiring having to remind the Association that they owe money to the same people they depend on to encourage children to participate in football, to then use these kids to get funding for programs for which the staff are not paid.”

An official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told Wired868 that the TTFA hired coordinators for each district and, in turn the coordinators were told to select 12 coaches each to cater for a maximum of 120 children. All coaches had to be ‘C’ license holders.

The TTFA promised to provide balls, bibs, cones and staff uniforms. Coordinators were offered TT$300 per session while coaches were due TT$150 per session. There were sessions every Wednesday from January to March and then from April to June.

However, as far as the official is aware, the Tobago district was the only one to receive any payment while the local football body never provided the necessary equipment to the coordinators.

Wired868 confirmed that there were similar issues in the Central and South Western zones.

Photo: Santa Cruz United attacker Jamaludin Blandin (centre) runs with the ball during RBNYL U-12 action against Step By Step at the Queen’s Park Savannah on 24 March 2018.
(Copyright Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)

“Nothing that was promised was actually delivered,” said the official. “The program would have been coordinated and planned before the coordinators were contacted—or at least I’d like to think so—so why is there all this disorganisation?

“While I understand the mandate of the TTFA is to provide opportunities for boys and girls, which is well intentioned, poor execution and unwillingness of the president to pay attention to these matters undermined the programme.”

In early 2018, Corneal stressed the importance of the Primary Schools Project on the TTFA’s website.

“It’s an initiative where we are trying to introduce the game to […] kids that are nine and ten years old [and] grow the player pool, especially on the side of girls where we just don’t have enough girls playing,” he said. “[…] Today our kids don’t play; they are on cellphones and other games… We need to get them out there playing and football needs to do its part in which we are doing.

“This initiative here is going to kickstart what is going to happen in five to 10 years. This is the bottom of our development plan where we need a mass of players being involved in the game.”

So far, according to the official, the Primary Schools Project has not come close to meeting its targets. He complained of a lack of support from the TTFA in all areas while sessions—at least in his district—were often conducted at venues with no signage or branding to indicate what was happening and who was behind it.

Photo: TTFA technical director Anton Corneal.

“There is no way we could meet the objectives with what was afforded to us,” said the official. “The monitoring and evaluation was a non-factor. The only person who really seemed to be immersed in anything was former director of football Muhammad Isa (now deceased).

“You can’t expect to find talent if you don’t have a network of persons and coaches looking for talent. And I can tell you that Isa was brilliant with that.”

In August, coordinators received an email from a TTFA employee which informed them that the cheques were ready and financial officer Tyril Patrick was “currently awaiting the President’s approval to release the funds.”

The Primary Schools official said they have gotten a runaround ever since.

“As of 10 August, we were told the cheques were ready for monies owed and they were just waiting on the president’s approval to release the funds,” he said. “However, there was no cash on hand to do such. The program was already funded by Nu-Iron. So where has all this money gone? We cannot wait any longer!”

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. Oh gorm, allyuh add DJW nah man. The fellah getting pound right through and no defense. Lasana Liburd set up an interview with the man. He willing to go on the tv6, I am sure he would be willing to have a one on one with you.

  2. Alyuh the fraud squad needs to seize ttff everything oh gosh man enough is enough

  3. they promised n said every month is just excuse after excuse.

  4. Money going to the home of football. Or is it going in his Connection. We need to think a bit .

  5. .You would have to ask The Big Boss .

  6. ..I said many .months ago that it will cost closer to TTD 50M. Well The Big Boss VEX I say that. But this is what people involved in the Caribbean construction industry tell me. The referees are saying FIFA/CONCACAF money dedicated to referee development is not filtering to their programme. Where is the money going?..

  7. My fellow citizens, I believe all income to the TTFA is being used for the Home of Football. This is why coaches can not get paid, this is why everytime a National team have to travel it is either sabotage or go begging to MYSA for money. The TTFA is proud to advertise that the project is 100% funded by FIFA and Concacaf to the tune of 17 million TTD. I will admit I am not involved in the real estate nor construction business in my sweet(Earl Mango Pierre) country but I am involved in the USA, Haiti and Turks and Caicos so I have a sense of material costs, professional fees and labor costs across trades. I am not a quantity surveryor but anybody who built or is building a house in TnT know that 17 million(economies of scale considered) is not enough money to build a 3 story hotel comprising of 72 rooms divided into double rooms and suites, each fully equipped with Wi-Fi, TV’s as well as a conference room, a cafeteria, medical room and team dining rooms. Plus the same 17 million TT constructing a secondary building consisting of dormotories for youth boys and girls teams, a main kitchen, dining room for youths, changing rooms and a laundry room and additional sleeping quarters for coaches.

    I will leave out the “income generating project” since we were recently advised that this funded through a separate funding source.

  8. i bet Nuiron provided the funds

  9. Ground hog day ……normal thing

  10. Lasana Liburd… at some point can u do a little write up about the salaries of all national coaches from under 9- national senior team? ThNks

  11. Just another day at the TTFA.
    So sad.

  12. Well maybe all the monies continues going to the home for football. Them really good yes

  13. If the sponsors already paid for the work already done why’s the TTFA holding on to said sums? Maybe this is an issue for the fraud squad and let the chips fall where they may lie…..

  14. ..In response to DJW’s address to the 2018 TTFA AGM, I told him said address should be named “The horse is starving while the grass is growing”. He busy boasting about a multi-million dollar facility while our football has crashed. This is the most egregious example of this sad state of affairs. OUT!..