Soca Warriors head coach Terry Fenwick, Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) technical director Dion La Foucade and technical committee chairman Keith Look Loy clashed this morning in a heated discussion at the TTFA’s headquarters in the Ato Boldon Stadium, Couva.
And, when it was over, La Foucade allegedly accepted the duties as originally proffered by the board—which stripped the post of responsibility for any national team—while Fenwick was asked to apologise to the committee for ‘behaviours exhibited’ and ‘prematurely departing before dismissal [of the meeting]’.
Technical committee member Ken Elie, a former national youth team coach, said the meeting was heated but useful.
“When big men enter in a meeting with differences and everyone leave smiling somebody bullshitting somebody,” said Elie. “But I feel we had a very progressive meeting.”
Ostensibly, the technical committee summoned Fenwick, a former England World Cup defender and Portsmouth, San Juan Jabloteh and Central FC head coach, to discuss his plans for the Warriors’ friendlies away to Canada on 27 and 31 March as well as his long term designs for the Senior Team and the Project 2026 squad.
But Fenwick had concerns of his own with regards to the management of his team. In particular, he was dissatisfied with efforts to sort out passports for foreign-born players who expressed varying degrees of interest in joining his squad.
Those players were: Toronto FC midfielder Nick De Leon (29 years old), Kilmarnock FC attacker Rory McKenzie (26), Tenerife full back Shaq Moore (23) and Newport County defender Ryan Inniss (24), who is on loan from English Premiership team, Crystal Palace, and is a former England youth international. De Leon, Moore and Inniss have at least one Trinbagonian parent, while McKenzie qualifies through a grandparent.
TTFA director of football Richard Piper, who also attends and contributes to technical committee members, contacted the identified players and allegedly asked them to get back to him with the necessary information. Fenwick wanted a more aggressive approach from the manager.
Fenwick, who declined comment, was incensed too that Piper said he was unlikely to get a passport for De Leon in time for June’s crucial play-offs against either Guyana or Barbados for a 2021 Concacaf Gold Cup berth. Should the Englishman fail to navigate the Warriors past that two-legged hurdle, his national senior team career would not extend beyond mid-2021.
De Leon, incidentally, is the son of local football legend Leroy De Leon and his younger sister, Jessica, has represented the Women Soca Warriors at youth level.
It was when Fenwick rounded on Look Loy for ‘interfering’ with his players that the meeting really ignited, though.
The Warriors head coach shared a letter from Moore’s agent which stated that the versatile Spain-based defender had not yet decided if and when he would wear the red, white and black strip.
(Moore tried out for Trinidad and Tobago at youth level but was not selected and he went on to captain USA at the 2015 FIFA Under-17 World Cup.)
Moore’s agent, Paul Maye, complained to Fenwick about the manner of the TTFA’s approach.
“As we discussed, you and only you are the point of contact to discuss Shaq’s future decision on his National Team selection,” stated Maye. “Currently there are multiple TTFA staff members reaching out to inquire about Shaq playing for the T&T National Side. This approach can and will create false rumours and information to the media at which point we can no longer control the narrative…”
Using Maye’s letter and Look Loy’s acknowledgment that he contacted the father of former national youth team full back Noah Powder for information about his passport, Fenwick told Look Loy that he was out of place. And the Warriors head coach insisted that nobody from the TTFA should try to contact ‘his players’ without going through him first.
At this point, Elie interjected to say that, as the TTFA’s employee, Fenwick was in no position to dictate how things were to be done.
“What I am hearing here is an employee telling the employer what and how he is going to do his stuff,” said Elie, as he recounted the exchange. “The employer says what he wants done and the employee suggests how he can get it done…
“As I was making that point, the place got heated; because he couldn’t understand that power and authority didn’t reside with him.”
Fenwick and Look Loy disagreed on which of them started shouting first. But everyone confirmed that the technical committee chairman started banging on his desk and his voice echoed through the office.
“When he started to shout at my committee member who said he cannot tell the TTFA what to do, and he is an employee and we tell him what to do,” said Look Loy, “well then I rose my voice louder than his and started to shout back. I wouldn’t deny that…”
Look Loy acknowledged that he spoke to the fathers of Moore and Powder. Moore’s father, Wendell Moore, was a former Trinidad and Tobago international while Powder’s dad, Sean Powder, is a senior member of the TTFA’s TIPP programme.
The technical committee chairman said he was only trying to help since Fenwick had been slow to get information to them and time was of the essence.
“[Fenwick] didn’t know what was the status of Powder’s passport application […] and what was Shaq Moore’s situation,” said Look Loy. “Since I knew the fathers, I reached out and got the information and passed it on the the coach and the director of national teams… What’s wrong with that?!
“I thought I was helping but he vex. [Committee] members said he is acting as though the team belongs to him and only he should speak to the footballers, which is not acceptable.
“[…] When new national coaches came in, I made the point that we have to put egos aside because no team belongs to one man—not under my stewardship!”
By then, Fenwick was questioning the chain of command under the technical committee and the chairman, Look Loy, was incensed.
“We are trying to shift the tectonic plates as far as the TTFA’s structure goes,” he said. “One of my beefs with [former coach] Dennis Lawrence was there was no planning, supervision or accountability. By and large, managers and coaches [of the other national teams] have been buckling down to the task. He is not going to be the exception.
“[…] We are not looking for confusion but we need to streamline operations with the TTFA and we have to be timely in our submissions. And everybody has to abide by that, including Mr Fenwick.
“As long as I am here, we will operate in an efficient manner with people accounting for their stewardship. When I gone, they can do what they want!”
Fenwick left the meeting before all parties came to an agreement, so as to be present at a sponsorship deal between Sports and Games and the TTFA, which he helped broker. Look Loy did not accept the reason for his exit.
“The meeting had strong words and he decided to leave with important things hanging in the breeze,” said Look Loy.
In the immediate aftermath of Fenwick’s departure, La Foucade allegedly agreed to submit to the technical committee, after initially threatening to approach Fifa for a resolution.
“Dion thought that he should not report to the technical committee and would follow Fifa’s guidelines on the technical director,” said Look Loy. “But these things vary from country to country and that was cleared up in the meeting today. In the end, he said his opinion is clarified now and he is just happy to work and contribute.”
Wired868 contacted La Foucade for confirmation but got no response.
Elie and another member, who spoke under condition of anonymity, said the meeting with Fenwick bore fruit as well.
The technical committee felt the National Senior Team coach had been negligent in his duties by not forward a training plan for his team. Fenwick countered that it was impossible to start training as the Pro League was scheduling matches on Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday each week with the National Under-20 Team also holding sessions in between.
However, he agreed to still present the committee with an outline for his plan.
“To me, the meeting was a progressive meeting because eventually he understood what is needed and he said he will work to get what we asked done,” said the anonymous member. “Despite the differences, I think the meeting was a progressive one. I think he understands now that it was not just one individual asking for it but the entire committee.”
Despite a supposedly satisfactory end to the meeting and Look Loy’s assertion that everyone should put egos aside, the technical committee still insist Fenwick should apologise.
“I personally felt offended […] because he said he doesn’t have to answer for the committee,” said the anonymous member. “The committee members feel he should apologise for that.”
“If you are home in your house and you do something you feel offends your brother or your daughter,” said Elie, “you can’t feel you are too big to say sorry…”
Fenwick had not responded to the technical committee’s position up until the time of publication.
At present, the technical committee comprises of: Look Loy (chairman), Narvin Charles, Dale Toney, Michael Grayson and Elie. Piper, Jinelle James and Norris Ferguson are adjunct committee members who do not hold voting rights.
Ferguson was the only member absent today.
Editor’s Note: TTFA technical committee chairman Keith Look Loy and Men’s National Senior Team head coach Terry Fenwick met for what they described as a cordial chat on Thursday 12 March. Click HERE for more details.