The Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) made over two dozen technical appointments in a marathon meeting last night with Dion La Foucade, Angus Eve and Kelvin Jack among the new inclusions into the national pool.
However, technical committee chairman Keith Look Loy did not have things all his way, as board members successfully reversed the committee’s choice for the position of Boys National Under-15 head coach.
The committee recommended Presentation College (San Fernando) and QPCC head coach Shawn Cooper to lead the staff for that age group. Instead, the board opted for San Juan Jabloteh technical director Keith Jeffrey.
TTFA president William Wallace described the meeting, which lasted over six hours, as ‘very democratic’.
The board members present last night were: Wallace (president), Clynt Taylor, Sam Phillip (vice-presidents), Rayshawn Mars (Northern FA), Richard Quan Chan (Southern FA), Joseph Taylor (Trinidad and Tobago Football Referees Association), Jamilya Mohammed (Women’s League Football), Brent Sancho (TT Pro League), Dwayne Thomas (Central Football Association), Look Loy (TTSL), Keon Edwards (Eastern FA), Phillip Fraser (SSFL) and Desmond Alfred (Tobago).
TTFA vice-president Susan Joseph-Warrick was absent, while the Eastern Counties Football Union and Veteran Footballers Foundation of Trinidad and Tobago are yet to make proper representation to the board.
Alfred became the TTFA’s 14th board member after the Tobago Football Association (TFA) held its elections earlier this month. Former National Senior Team defender Makan Hislop, who represents Bethel United in the Trinidad and Tobago Super League (TTSL) competition, is the new TFA president.
Men’s National Senior Team head coach Terry Fenwick was finally provided with his staff, which now includes assistant coaches Derek King and Kelvin Jack along with manager Captain Basil Thompson, equipment manager Michael Williams and trainer Oswin Birchwood. Jack will double as goalkeeper coach.
King was also confirmed as National Under-20 head coach with Angus Eve and Stern John as his assistants and Ross Russell as goalkeeper coach, Trey Hart as trainer and Aaron Pollard as manager.
Jeffrey heads the National Under-15 programme assisted by Clayton ‘JB’ Morris and Wayne Sheppard with Jefferson George as goalkeeper coach and Dexter Demas as team manager.
Look Loy presented the technical committee’s wish-list for the various coaching positions yesterday evening, only to immediately face pushback from his board colleagues, who demanded a shortlist for all positions so they could ‘be better informed’ before making any appointments.
So the Board members perused the applications for the technical director position, which had La Foucade and Serb Zoran Vranes at the top of the pile. La Foucade, who was the nominee from the technical committee, was appointed unanimously.
Wallace, who chaired the meeting, urged members to appreciate the work done by the committee in making its choice and pointed out that it would be too time-consuming to dissect over 500 CVs. The point was accepted by the board.
But, when it came to the National Under-15 Team staff, one member, TTFRA president Taylor, had a suggestion: why not Jeffrey?
Cooper, the only Trinidad and Tobago coach to defeat Costa Rica in a competitive affair, took the National Under-17 Team to the Concacaf quarterfinal round in 2011 and 2013 and led Presentation College (San Fernando) to the National Intercol title just last month.
But the board felt Jeffrey—whose Jabloteh team often dominate the Youth Pro League (YPL) competition—deserved a shot, and he won a split vote for the job.
On the last occasion that the board overruled the technical committee, Dennis Lawrence was appointed head coach; and Look Loy’s predecessor, Dexter Skeene, promptly resigned along with half of the committee. But Look Loy said there would be no such fall-out.
“That is the prerogative of the board,” said Look Loy. “The technical committee is an advisory committee and only makes recommendations … So the board exercised its right under the constitution and we move ahead with that.”
The aftershocks of the National Under-15 adjustment meant that a final decision could not be taken on the Under-17 staff last night. The technical committee proposed Eve as head coach with Cooper and Clyde Leon as his assistants. However, Jeffrey’s appointment meant that to fit into the new format of linkages between teams, he was automatically selected as one of Eve’s two assistants.
The board, by way of compromise, suggested that Cooper remain as Eve’s second assistant ahead of Leon. Eve was said to be happy with the retention of Leon for the sake of continuity. However, the Naparima College head coach does not have an issue with working alongside his Presentation rival.
Look Loy is expected to finalise the Under-17 positions shortly.
John, Russell, Williams and Pollard were all retained from the previous administration, although John—Trinidad and Tobago’s record goalscorer—went from Under-17 head coach to Under-20 assistant.
“We have always said on coming into office that we are not on a witch hunt,” Look Loy told the TTFA Media. “[…] So we have kept Stern John as one of the assistant coaches of the Men’s Under-20 team […] and Wesley Webb as the manager of the Men’s Under-17 Team.
“As I said, we are looking at each person on an individual basis, trying to properly judge their merits and what they can contribute to the programs. And we are making decisions on that basis.”
There was no room though for former Men’s National Senior Team assistant coach and Under-15 head coach Stuart Charles-Fevrier, who must now be paid off for his contract. Wallace hinted that Fenwick did not feel Charles-Fevrier would be compatible with his staff.
“Earlier today, I met with one of the assistant coaches of the Men’s Senior Team,” said Wallace. “He understood clearly that as a new coach coming in, that this coach will want to bring persons in who he is comfortable working with. We sat and had a very good conversation.
“Of course he has a contract and we have to be able to work that out going forward. In some other instances, there are also some contractual arrangements with persons at the lower levels. Those, too, will have to be dealt with going forward.”
On the women’s side, Jason Spence was appointed Women’s National Under-15 Team head coach with Dernelle Mascall and Joel Warrick as his assistants, Simone Edwards as team manager and Trevor Nottingham as goalkeeper coach. Warrick is the husband of TTFA vice-president and Women’s League of Football (WoLF) president Susan Joseph-Warrick.
Nadia James was appointed Women’s National Under-17 Team manager and joins a staff already appointed and headed by Police FC coach Richard Hood.
The Women’s National Senior Team coaching staff is expected to be named in mid-year.
Look Loy said last night’s appointments were the first step in reviving the TTFA’s fortunes.
“These appointments reflect long and serious consideration by the technical committee and the board of the TTFA,” he said, “to send all of our national teams on the path of not only improvement but qualification for the championships we have to play for.
“Beyond that, we are looking seriously at the personnel we have appointed, with a long term perspective towards the revival of our football fortunes.”
Look Loy reiterated that the youth coaching jobs were all short term and the various positions would be reassessed at the end of their respective tournaments this year.
“If we do look to renew people, then we will usefully discuss renewing them for a full cycle, which in terms of youth football is two years,” said Look Loy.
Other appointments made last night were: Richard Piper (national teams director), Jinelle James (women’s football director), Norris Ferguson (club licensing and compliance director) and Jack (head of goalkeeping). Piper, James and Ferguson are all members of the TTFA’s technical committee along with Michael Grayson.
Look Loy made special mention of La Foucade and Jack as technical director and head of goalkeeping respectively.
“There are two positions in particular that hold inordinate importance, and those are the technical director and head of goalkeeping,” he said. “The technical director position has never been properly implemented in Trinidad and Tobago. Now we have the opportunity to reboot and make it an effective position.
“It is not that we didn’t have people who knew what to do but that the technical committee was never properly organised and there was no consistent application of technical policy and no technical department. Development requires consistent action […] but the support and circumstances to create that never occurred.
“And head of goalkeeping is a new position. We have never had that and we desperately need a programme to develop the next crop of top goalkeepers. It has been hit and miss in that area and we now we want to make it an assembly line.
“The decisions last night, I believe, reflect a watershed moment.”
The TTFA Board also unanimously agreed to Look Loy’s proposed ‘Project 2026’, which will see a cadre of under-21 players groomed to become the core of Men’s National Senior Team for the 2026 World Cup qualifying campaign.
“The year 2026 is going to the first 48-team Fifa World Cup in Canada, USA and Mexico,” said Look Loy. “Concacaf is going to have six places and we think it judicious to begin preparing a hard core now… In 2026, we may have the outstanding 18-year-old, we may have the outstanding 32-year-old but the the core of that team is going to be those boys who are now 19 to 21 years old.
“We are going to form a team under that age band. We are going to put them under the supervision of Terry Fenwick and the Men’s National Senior Team staff and we are going to go forward with that.”
Editor’s Note: Click HERE to read the final Men’s National Under-17 Team coaching staff and technical committee chairman Keith Look Loy’s explanation on the new policy of naming not only head coaches but their assistants as well.