Former World Cup 2006 goalkeepers Kelvin Jack and Clayton Ince, 2009 Under-20 World Cup coach Zoran Vranes, Trinidad and Tobago’s most capped outfield player and serial SSFL champion coach Angus Eve, former national youth team coach Dion La Foucade and current National Intercol winner Shawn Cooper are apparently among a tsunami of applicants who the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) will consider for coaching positions in the William Wallace-led administration.
In barely a month, TTFA technical committee chairman Keith Look Loy said the response from coaches around the globe to potential job openings on the twin island republic has been overwhelming.
“We have received well over 500 applications for a variety of jobs,” Look Loy told Wired868. “Most have been for jobs as coach or goalkeeper coach with a small number by comparison for technical director—and this is from every continent and from people with a variety of backgrounds. It is overwhelming to assess all of this.
“[…] They are very well qualified people but there is always an issue of what we can afford. A lot of the applicants are Englishmen; there are Serbs, some South Americans, a few Dutch and Germans. But really an overwhelming preponderance of Englishmen.”
Vranes, a Serbian who has coached Trinidad and Tobago Men’s National Senior and Youth teams as well as at local club level, has applied for the vacant post of technical director. Ricky Hill, an Englishman and former Luton Town standout who also coached San Juan Jabloteh a decade ago, is also in the running for the job along with former national youth coach Dion La Foucade.
Ince and Jack hope to join the national set-up as goalkeeping coaches. At present, Jack, a former Gillingham and Dundee United custodian, is the lead goalkeeper coach at Soccer Elite in England while Ince, who represented Crewe Alexandra and Walsall, assists Eve at Naparima College and Pro League outfit, Club Sando.
“I don’t want to be seen to be favouring everyone but we can’t ignore applications from Clayton Ince and Kelvin Jack,” said Look Loy, “since they have broad experience as players at the international level and in Britain and they are certified.
“I don’t want to go beyond that because I don’t want to be seen to be favouring anybody.”
Look Loy apart, the technical committee comprises of: Secondary Schools Football League (SSFL) coaches Michael Grayson and Ken Elie—both are former national youth team coaches—as well as past and present national team managers Jinelle James, Norris Ferguson and Richard Piper. Ferguson is also a Fifa match commissioner while Piper is a former Concacaf referee.
Look Loy, Elie, Grayson and James are former international players.
The quintet will recommend members to staff the TTFA’s various football teams over the next four years, although the 16-member Board has the final say on appointments.
The previous technical committee collapsed, two years ago, shortly after the Board rejected its nominations and selected Dennis Lawrence as head coach instead. Then committee chairman Dexter Skeene wanted Terry Fenwick for the job while the majority of the committee nominated Stuart Charles-Fevrier.
Look Loy’s committee will make its own recommendations to the Board on 10 January.
“The technical committee is having daily and ongoing discussions about the applications that are coming in,” said Look Loy. “I should also add that the consideration we had for the Senior Men’s coach—which is the financial consideration—also comes to the fore, which is: what can we afford?
“But we need to balance financial limitation with the need for technical quality. In short, we need people who know what they are doing.”
So far, the technical committee has nominated Fenwick and Richard Hood as Men’s National Senior Team coach and Women’s National Under-17 Team coach respectively. Both suggestions were accepted by the Board.
Fenwick is expected to be unveiled to the public after he agrees on final terms with the TTFA.
Look Loy already vowed to recommend Derek King to the Board as Men’s National Senior Team assistant coach and National Under-20 Team head coach. (He said King was handpicked by Fenwick.) However, he was not prepared to give away any other nominations for coaching positions.
He did hint at the selection process, though.
“We are filtering through [applications based on] the prism of certifications, experience, financial limitations and cultural fit,” said Look Loy. “I have seen too often we bring a foreign coach here and it is just not a fit… There is no guarantee that a coach is going to work out but you try to make a rational judgment based on whatever considerations and hope that it works.
“Look how many coaches get fired in the EPL this year. It is not that they can’t coach; it just ent work.”
Look Loy suggested that local coaches will have as good a shot as anyone for the available jobs.
“When you bring a foreigner, you usually don’t bring him alone and there are a whole bunch of financial considerations like the cost of his staff, trips for his family, etc,” he said. “Angus Eve has applied for a job, Shawn Cooper has applied for a job; I cannot ignore these people because they haven’t worked in Bangladesh or wherever.
“They know our players and have the respect of our players and they are also qualified, so that has to be part of the matrix. Our local coaches have merit and he brings something the guy from Bangladesh does not bring, in that he knows our players, he knows our culture, he knows our mentality—that is a strength as far as I am concerned.”
Look Loy said he will join Wallace and vice-presidents Clynt Taylor, Susan Joseph-Warrick and Sam Phillip in a meeting with all current technical staff members on Wednesday 8 January. At next Friday’s Board meeting, a final decision will be made as to the future employment of those coaches and support staff within the TTFA.
“We are going to be making decisions about who we want to keep and who we don’t want to keep, because we are not going to keep everyone,” said Look Loy. “That is for not only all the national coaches but also the management staff, equipment people, trainers—everybody.”
One coach who has ruled himself out in the short term is American Randy Waldrum, who was asked to steer the Women’s National Under-20 Team into Concacaf competition in February.
Instead, Waldrum, the head coach of the University of Pittsburgh women’s soccer programme, asked to be considered for a two-year cycle as Trinidad and Tobago coach once upcoming assignments with the Under-20 and Under-17 teams are completed in April.
Hood, the Police FC coach, has accepted the role of firefighter as he will steer both women’s teams into competition, despite the short preparation time.
“At the end of the period February to March, we will sit down and assess to see where we go for the next cycle, which is 2020-2022,” said Look Loy. “It is a short term project and Hood knows that and accepted that.”
The Under-20 Women get together on 4 February for a 10 day camp at the Dominican Republic while they open their campaign on 16 February against Panama. T&T and Panama are also grouped with Haiti and the Cayman Islands. The bottom nation in the group will be eliminated while the top three advance to the Round of 16.
Panama have already qualified for the FIFA Women’s Under-20 World Cup as co-hosts, alongside Costa Rica, while two other nations will secure their berths from the Concacaf competition.
Look Loy believes the North American arm of the TTFA’s Talent Identification and Player Pool programme (TIPP), headed by Justin Reid and Sean Powder, has already been helpful to the Women’s team.
“The North American system we set up is playing a huge role in helping us identify talent for the Under-20 women in particular,” he said. “And even moreso, we are [being contacted] by American girls who want to represent Trinidad and Tobago as a result of the initiative we have undertaken in America. So this is going to be very useful to us, no doubt.”
The Women’s Under-15 Team also sees action in August while the Men’s Under-20 and Under-17 Teams have Concacaf qualifiers in June and July respectively.
Crucially, the Men’s National Senior Team face a Concacaf Gold Cup Play Off against either Guyana or Barbados in June. Look Loy said the Soca Warriors are not short of potential suitors for warm up matches during the next Fifa international match window in March.
“We have fielded requests from agents who want to organise matches for us and we already have offers to play outside of Trinidad and Tobago, which we are weighing,” said Look Loy. “We are looking at the Fifa ranking of the [potential] opponent, the technical qualities and the history—which will tell us the challenge the opponent will present—and the benefit on the financial front from the opponent, as in what will it pay.”