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DJW calls TTFA board meeting; Lawrence, U-17 team and general secretary head talking points

The Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) board will hold its first meeting of 2019 on Wednesday 20 February and it could set the tone for controversial president David John-Williams’ final nine months in office.

John-Williams has held on to his own job—after a motion to remove him by FC Santa Rosa was thwarted at the AGM, two months ago—but now the posts of Men’s National Senior Team head coach Dennis Lawrence and general secretary Justin Latapy-George are at stake.

Photo: TTFA president David John-Williams and Men’s National Senior Team head coach Dennis Lawrence enjoy each other’s company during the Football for a Cause charity match at the Hasely Crawford Stadium on 26 October 2018.
(Copyright Nicholas Bhajan/CA-Images/Wired868)

Lawrence’s two year contract expired on 31 January while Latapy-George’s term ended last November. Thus far, John-Williams has suggested he wants to keep his head coach but ditch his general secretary with former Trinidad and Tobago Super League (TTSL) administrator Camara David already lined up for the latter office.

Last week, Wired868 revealed exclusively that David’s name was already placed on the FIFA website as the TTFA’s general secretary, although it was since removed.

Remarkably, the TTFA president is trying to get the board to renew Lawrence’s contract without even revealing what terms were offered to the the former 2006 World Cup star in the first place.

There is neither a TTFA technical committee nor a technical director in place to help evaluate Lawrence’s stint either, as the former body is one of 15 standing committees left non-functional under the current administration while Anton Corneal is yet to return to work.

Corneal, who returned to the post in August 2017, walked off the job in January after going unpaid for six months. Since then, John-Williams has authorised three months’ payment for the technical director but Corneal continues to insist that the TTFA meet all of its financial obligations to him.

Photo: TTFA technical director Anton Corneal.
(Copyright Nicholas Bhajan/CA-Images/Wired868)

Lawrence has had a mixed spell at the helm of the Soca Warriors. Trinidad and Tobago lost six of their eight matches in the Concacaf Hex under the six foot seven coach while the team slipped from 80th to 93rd in the FIFA rankings.

Overall, the Warriors won five, drew four and lost 11 matches under Lawrence with 18 goals scored and 27 conceded. However, he can point to a seismic 2-1 home win over the United States—which eliminated the North American giants from the Russia 2018 World Cup—as well as an encouraging 2-0 friendly win over the United Arab Emirates last September.

At home, Trinidad and Tobago have three wins (USA, Panama and Barbados), two draws (Grenada and Guyana) and four defeats (Mexico, Jamaica, Honduras and Panama) with 10 goals scored and as many conceded.

The board must decide whether that record is good enough to keep Lawrence at the helm for the 2019 Concacaf Gold Cup, or consider a new head coach.

In the case of the general secretary portfolio, a constitutional crisis appears to be looming with the president insisting that the board is obliged to appoint whoever he selects for the job, although Elton Prescott SC and Trinidad and Tobago Football Referees Association (TTFRA) vice-president Osmond Downer—both framers of the TTFA constitution—disagreed.

Click HERE to read the view of the football president; and HERE to read the alternate position.

Photo: TTFA president David John-Williams (centre), media officer Shaun Fuentes (left) and new Soca Warriors coach Dennis Lawrence at the TTFA headquarters on 30 January 2017.
(Copyright Allan V Crane/TTFA)

Another pressing issue is the state of the Men’s National Under-17 Team, which remains inactive with less than two months to go before the start of their Peru 2019 World Youth Cup qualifying series.

John-Williams has neither confirmed nor denied rumours that the Under-17 boys can be sacrificed so that the Under-15 Team—led by W Connection head coach Stuart Charles-Fevrier—can take their place for ‘tournament experience’.

Although John-Williams is yet to reveal an agenda for next week’s meeting, board member and TTSL Keith Look Loy requested that all of the aforementioned topics be put on the table along the status of the TTFA’s Audit and Compliance Committee and Home of Football and Income Generation Project.

Wednesday’s conclave, which comes a month after it was constitutionally due, will also see a debut appearance by Veteran Footballers Foundation of Trinidad and Tobago (VFFOTT) president Selby Browne, whose body was awarded a board position at the AGM.

Bizarrely, the TTFA’s general membership—and, in particular, the Pro League clubs—voted against a seat at the board for the Secondary Schools Football League (SSFL), although the SSFL easily has the most teams, biggest attendances and longest history of all the TTFA’s members and proved to be the only body capable of securing a million dollar sponsorship deal.

Photo: The T&T National U-15 Team pose at the 2017 CONCACAF Championship.
Those players are expected to make up the spine of the current U-17 Team.
(Back row, left to right) Darian Bradshaw, Justin Araujo-Wilson, Adriel George, Jean-Heim Mc Fee, Marc Wharfe, Cephas St Rose.
(Front row, left to right) Randy Antoine, Josiah Edwards, Jaiye Sheppard, Jabari Lee and Kernel La Fon.
(Courtesy TTFA Media)

Browne’s inclusion brings the TTFA board up to 13 members. They are:

John-Williams (president), Ewing Davis (vice-president), Richard Quan Chan (Southern FA), Anthony Moore (Tobago FA), Joseph Taylor (TTFRA), Sharon Warrick (Women’s League Football), Julia Baptiste (TT Pro League), Collin Partap (Central Football Association), Look Loy (TTSL), Bandele Kamau (Eastern FA), Raeshawn Mars (Northern FA), Sherwyn Dyer (Eastern Counties Football Union) and Browne (VFFOTT).

John-Williams has always enjoyed the unstinting support of Davis, Quan Chan, Moore and Dyer, which accounts for five votes. But he has generally not had his way with Look Loy, Partap, Taylor, Warrick and any of the NFA’s representatives.

If those 10 members remain consistent, the swing votes would come from Baptiste, Kamau and Browne. Should John-Williams convince two from that trio to see things his way, he will get the coach and general secretary he wants—even, possibly, without revealing their terms of references.

Despite the obvious decline of Trinidad and Tobago’s football, both on and off the field, there is no questioning the strength of John-Williams’ canvassing, as he continues to emerge largely unscathed from meetings with the board and general membership.

Next Wednesday evening at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva might be one of his more challenging meetings yet with high stakes again for the local game.

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.

Editor’s Note: The TTFA board meeting was moved from Tuesday 19 February to Wednesday 20 February. That change was reflected in our story from 12 February.

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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58 comments

  1. Lasana glad you mentioned this a lot of young talanted ayers are sidelined due to d.o.b and no one does anything to solve the problem. Age group needs to be addressed

  2. When is the next women’s tournament?

    • Chabeth Haynes I would also like to know the plan for the women going forward. Not sure we even have a staff currently. More of us women national team members are starting to play professional, we are taking the necessary steps to stay ready I want to hear ANYTHING from the TTFA about helping us.

    • Chabeth Haynes TTFA is an international disgrace in regard to commitment to Women’s football.

    • Should be olympic qualifiers no dates on the women side but men first round (Caribbean) is expected to be from 2nd march

    • Trey you gonna ask if we have a men’s Olympic team in training next?

    • Lasana Liburd 😂😂 doh set meh up. I’m only relating info found on Jamaica FA’s website.

    • SB Jacqueline SB Jacqueline like you didn’t hear, the man told the captain all those interviews and articles will come back to haunt you’ll 🧐. Guess that means nada for the senior team…

    • Maylee Johnson I SEE THAT IS THE CASE! We stand up for ourselves and get blackballed? There would be no need for articles if the TTFA did right by us. I don’t care anymore I love wearing the RED WHITE AND BLACK I WANT A CHANCE TO PLAY FOR MY COUNTRY!

    • Well…..there was one dotish team owner who started a petition because he was restricted because he didn’t follow the protocols of the league. Sooo if there are like minded individuals who feel they are being blackballed ….why not get together and create a petition and forward it to FIFA or the concacaf? My point is if they’re blackballing you anyway……why not hit back…..if I’m in a fight getting punched then I’d prefer to be in a fight where I’m getting my jabs in as well….maybe a jab to the throat…kick in the n**s…… start a petition against him… I’ll sign… I’ll share it too……jus sayin

  3. In fairness…the u15 team together since u13. Maybe he silently decide that it too late for all the other teams to reach global standard but couldn’t say it “officially” so as not to insult anybody, and just doing it operationally. That’s what I felt when he hired Santfliet…that he say ” this team not worth spending money on, lemme focus on the youths”. If so, i could undeestand the reasoning, although it could have been done more diplomatically. Obviously he doesnt have that skill set. Don’t know why he not doing the same for the women though.

    • That is wrong on several levels. 1. Any such decision should be a decision of the BOARD not the Big Boss. 2. From the technical and physiological standpoints it would be a horrible decision, which would expose players as young as thirteen to physical injury against seventeen year olds, and undoubtedly result in huge defeats – adding to the current disgrace that is TT football in the international arena. 3. It would cement the Big Boss’ haphazard approach to TTFA and national teams’ business – never mind all his “manifesto” ole talk.

    • But Kion we have been down this road before…I recall back in 1990/1991 an U-23 team being totally dismantled and replaced by the Under-20 team that had qualified for Portugal retaining just TWO U-23 players in Terry St Louis & Anthony Rougier…they were hammered… because it was men vs boys…And there can be NO valid reason for hiring Sainfeit NONE!!!!! That that fraud could put former “Former National Coach of Trinidad and Tobago” alongside the likes of Gally Cummings and Leo Beenhakker STILL pisses me off to this day. At the end of day I don’t have all the answers buddy but I CAN see the road we are currently traveling on ain’t taking us anywhere good anytime soon.

    • Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it

    • Brian, the difference between an 18 year old and a 22 year old is marginal other than experience. The difference between a 13 year old and a 16 or 17 year old is far, far more pronounced.
      Think about a Form Two student and a Form Six student and you will get the picture.

    • Lasana Liburd I hear yuh but I still disagree on principle on just scrapping a team and replacing them wholesale in this manner as was suggested in the piece.

    • Lasana Liburd the difference between an 18 yr old and a 22 yr old is marginal ? Gonna allow you an opportunity to retract that statement ….because that is significantly incorrect both physically and mentally ……

    • No no…i didn’t mean they are goin to replace the u17 on the field. I meant that he is not funding those other teams on purpose to ensure the little money available is given to the younger team as 17 year olds are already “developed”. If u not a Pulisic or Jadon Sancho…u not getting recognised outside T&T. The u-15 have a chance to get there if they given the proper resources since they were u-13

    • Kion S Williams still believe the U-17 deserves a chance. Even if it’s for their development.

    • Kion S Williams the problem with our teams is that they’ve never been developed at youth level which is why we have so much technical flaws at an older age group. So what exactly makes you think he’d go that route…. also to understand this beast’s intention is to understand his way of thinking….he does nothing unless it benefits him…..use that as a reference and ignore the logical context in which you’re trying to see it.
      Ps our U17 players are no where near developed

    • Malik a 18 or 19 year old playing with adults is pretty common. A 13 year old playing with 16 and 17 year olds is far more so.

    • Brian I certainly disagree with doing that as well.
      You’re putting the sword to a whole generation of players between the ages of 15 and 17. And remember there is already a blind spot with the boys unlucky enough to be 18 right now who were not big enough for U-20s but too old for U-17s.

    • Lasana Liburd so you’re saying the commonality of the age group playing together? I can agree with that I thought you were discussing the physical and mental maturity……

    • Malik nah. If I worded that clumsily I meant the commonality.

    • Still guys, those that fall through the crack of not making the competition cut should be kept in a pool…training and keeping sharp & active.

    • Not saying that is what he is doing…but I jus wondering if he was to go that route, if that is somethibg be could say publicly or would it be worse to actually admit u putting an entire generation to the sword” 🤔

    • All of this is academic discussion. The main issue here is the failure, yet again, of the abysmal DJW administration to plan for and prepare a national team for international competition. I am at the point of believing this ongoing failure is intentional.

      Talk about any other issue arising therefrom, keeping the players together, etc, is pie in the sky. The Big Boss ain’t doing none ah dat. Players and parents, staff, who sacrificed to participate in this U17 team up to March 2018 have themselves been sacrificed by the incompetents who hold high TTFA office. End of story.

    • It’s also no coincidence that he called a meeting for something that HE wants done

    • Malik Johnson Correct. And I will say it here, in plain terms, for his people to tell him: Look Loy not supporting that foolishness about sending the U15 team. He could talk all he wants about development, that is more dereliction of duty, and the abandonment of an entire age band of players, the ripple effect of which will be that our next U20 team will have no experience of international competition. That is more national disgrace and I will oppose it at Board level.

    • God forbid yes. Decisions and plans need to be pro-active…about football!

  4. So the U17 boys…
    The possibility of them being “sacrificed” is because…
    There’s no coach? Or it’s a weak talent pool? Or the thinking is to focus on developing the U15s for the 2024 Olympics and the 2026 WC?

  5. So is it that a meeting is called only when important events come up? Is there a regularly scheduled Board Meeting? What is the organizational structure of The TTFA? I’ve seen some comments that the General secretary is the board secretary. I would like to see that job description. If indeed there is a secretary to the board, there is training available for that job as it’s critical and a legal requirement especially if government monies are used. As such the General Secretary and board secretary roles have to be well defined and clarified. My final question “do members of the TTFA board consider that they have a fiduciary responsibility?” That’s critical because it’s where jail comes in

  6. Personally not expecting much to change if recent history is a guide because it’s basically the same players…and as the definition of madness goes it’s doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.