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Dear Editor: TTFA voters must zone out noise and evaluate track records of aspirants

“Election rules state that candidates for office must have at least  three years of managerial/organisation experience in football. In other words, the rules stipulate that they must have a track record by which we can judge them…”

The following Letter to the Editor on the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association’s 24 November elections was submitted to Wired868 by former St Augustine Secondary principal Andre Moses:

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago defender Daneil Cyrus (far left) leads the dissenters as they protest a second yellow card for winger Levi Garcia during Concacaf Nations League action against Honduras in Port of Spain on 10 October 2019.
(Copyright Allan V Crane/CA-Images/Wired868)

There will be 47 eligible voters in the upcoming TTFA elections. Each one of these delegate voters represents a football constituency. Despite all the noise, what is at stake has nothing to do with the personalities—David John Williams, Keith Look Loy, William Wallace or Richard Ferguson per se.

What is at stake is determining which of the contenders for office offers a credible strategy for

  1. uniting the several and diverse constituencies in our football loving nation, and
  2. offers a democratic structure that will facilitate the best ideas being implemented in a systematic manner.

One recurrent, root cause of institutional failure that we tend to duplicate better than a Xerox machine is our tendency to sub-contract decision-making to a leader or small clique.

We address them as ‘de boss’ and ‘chief’ and other titles of deference, and trust that they will act in our self-interest. We even condone a degree of corruption as ‘normal’, once our self-interest is served. That kind of adulation and power over time tends to make even the well-intentioned ‘confuse’ the distinction between group assets and mandates and personal assets and mandates.

If eternal vigilance is the price of liberty, it is also true that eternal vigilance is the life force of democracy. If the ‘supervision’ of the rank and file irritates you, if you feel that the organisation’s business is private to the leadership cadre, then perhaps you should not offer yourself for public office.

If on the other hand you have ‘no cocoa in the sun’ and nothing to hide, then you should welcome the supervision of the rank and file, whose business you have pledged to serve.

Photo: (From right) TTFA president David John-Williams, Sport Minister Shamfa Cudjoe and FIFA official Veron Mosengo-Omba inspect the TTFA’s Home of Football in Couva on 20 August 2018.
(Courtesy MSYA)

Election rules state that candidates for office must have at least  three years of managerial/organisation experience in football. In other words, the rules stipulate that they must have a track record by which we can judge them.

David John Williams is the owner of one of the top national and Caribbean professional football clubs, W Connection, which has won several Pro League titles and performed creditably at the Concacaf level. He has served almost a full term as TTFA president, with his signature project being the construction of the Home of Football, inclusive of playing and practice fields, dormitory accommodation and other facilities. That is his track record and therefore on that basis we should judge him.

William Wallace is now serving his second term as the President of the Secondary Schools Football League (SSFL). He has also served as manager of the Men’s National Senior Football team. A retired vice principal, he oversaw the growth of Carapichaima Secondary as a Premier Division top contender and also has administrative experience as a President of the Secondary Schools Cricket League. That is Wallace’s track record and the basis on which we should judge him.

Richard Ferguson, a chartered accountant, is the owner of Terminix La Horquetta Rangers, having previously been involved with La Horquetta FC in the EFA zonal competition. He has promoted a community-based model for club viability, with the refurbishment of a football field and the construction of a pavilion and restaurant in the La Horquetta area.

He has also invested in sponsoring an invitational tournament and separate  football leagues for the first two tiers of the Trinidad and Tobago’s men’s game. Those are Richard Ferguson’s credentials and on that basis we must judge him.

Photo: Terminix La Horquetta Rangers director Richard Ferguson enjoys the action during an Ascension Invitational fixture against QPCC at Phase 2, La Horquetta on 11 September 2019.
(Copyright Allan V Crane/CA-Images/Wired868)

Susan Warrick is the current President of the Women’s League football, having served a stint as its Vice President. She is the part owner of the Trinity Nationals Football club founded in 2001 and has been close to the women’s game at the national level because of her daughters, Shanelle and Jonelle, who both played at the National level. That is her track record and the basis on which we should judge her.

While not a candidate, Look Loy has been a key figure associated with the electoral process and so his profile is included. Keith Look Loy represented Trinidad and Tobago at the age group level and was a member of the Howard Bisons—the first black college to win a NCAA soccer championship title.

He coached Malick Secondary to SSFL titles and also coached National Junior level, served on FIFA Development and Technical committees, founded Santa Rosa Soccer School, which later became FC Santa Rosa and was one of the founders of the Trinidad and Tobago Super League. That is his track record and therefore on that basis we should judge him.

Similarly Clynt Taylor, Selby Brown, Colin Partap, Sam Phillip, Anthony Moore, Raymond Thom and Shymdeo Gosine all have their respective track records.

To date one grouping, the United TTFA, has publicly presented their proposals. With representation on their slate from the Secondary School Football League (SSFL), the Trinidad and Tobago Super League (TTSL), the Women’s League Football (WOLF) and the Central Football Association (CFA), they have presented themselves as a platform of unity and inclusiveness.

Photo: Naparima College attacker Mark Ramdeen (centre) poses with his 2018 SSFL MVP trophy between SSFL president William Wallace (right) and ambassador Shaka Hislop (left).
(Copyright Annalicia Caruth/Wired868)

United TTFA have also signified an intention to engage in corporate partnerships to expand the TTFA’s financial base and technical capacity. This slate in their public launch also presented detailed proposals on the restructuring of the TTFA with the intent, according to them, to create a more efficient, transparent and democratic organisation.

The Ferguson slate, based on Richard Ferguson’s public pronouncements, has prioritised bringing financial viability to the TTFA and addressing the eradication of its debt burden. Ferguson also recommends the La Horquetta community-based model, as a means to create an independent income stream for clubs and consolidate and grow their community support.

The incumbent David John Williams has not yet confirmed a slate or an intention to contest. However the names Selby Brown of the Veterans’ Association, Colin Partap of the Central Association and Anthony Moore of the Tobago Association have been making the rounds on social media as members of a possible David John Williams slate.

Should this slate materialise, until such time as a public presentation is made, one has to assume that the track record of incumbency will be its principal recommendation.

I would like to humbly suggest that all 47 voting delegates and the constituencies they represent carefully examine the stated proposals of the aspirants for office—such as are available—and match those proposals against their track records of achievement to evaluate for whom they should vote.

Photo: Soca Warriors fans enjoy the action during Russia 2018 World Cup qualifying action against Costa Rica at the Hasely Crawford Stadium on 11 November 2016.
(Courtesy Sean Morrison/Wired868)

Ignore all the noise and red herrings. If the delegates and their respective constituencies exercise proper due diligence, they may not discover any saints who are willing to serve; but they may well discover a team of patriots whose past endeavours suggests that they are up to the task of navigating Trinidad and Tobago football to a brighter tomorrow and uniting a nation in that process.

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  1. Sober, Andre, scholarly even. A model of balance and impartiality.

    But would we not be breaking new ground if we were to elect people on the bases you propose? Can we really expect it in a country where corruption is no less widespread than in the days of LifeSport?

    Of course, that is precisely why many more upstanding citizens should join you in this call for dispassionate evaluation of the slates and voting based thereon. Experience, however, suggests that that is still a pipe dream.

    Here’s hoping I am wrong. Again!