Home / Volley / Global Football / Dear Editor: Fenwick used the Soca Warriors like a bait dog—it is indefensible!

Dear Editor: Fenwick used the Soca Warriors like a bait dog—it is indefensible!

“[…] In boxing, there’s a term called a ‘bad beating’ in which the victims never quite recover to fight at an equal or better level. It is why some fights are not taken and why some corners throw in the towel. 

“Where was the initiative to protect these players’ psyche from a ‘bad beating’ that could have been much worse? He has now established inferiority, and if it dwells in the squad it can ingrain defeatism…”

Photo: United States defender George Bello (foreground) tries to hold off Trinidad and Tobago midfielder Alvin Jones during an international friendly in Orlando on 31 January 2021.
USA won 7-0.
(Copyright AP Photo/Phelan M Ebenhack)

The following Letter to the Editor was submitted to Wired868 by Sherwyn Besson, who is an author, business teacher at New York City Department of Education, and a former Trinidad and Tobago national youth team player, with an advanced coaching certificate from the National Soccer Coaches Association of America:

The text read: ‘Bredda, yuh see that shit last night boy??? Geez. Thrillers (a small goal championship franchise from La Horquetta in the 80’s) would have played better. As an ex-national, that must have boiled your blood.’ 

And it did. I had already dissected the game 20 minutes in, and the brutal indictment called for ‘systemic change’, having followed the association’s turmoil the previous years. The Soca Warriors were a bait dog on Sunday night. 

Bait dogs are good for mutilation practice by the game dog without the risk of harm to the latter. Bait dogs are not meant to recover, go to the hills and train, learn new Shaolin techniques, and then exact vicious revenge. They are irreparably maimed and killed. 

And that is what we were in Orlando—a bait dog.

Photo: United States forward Jonathan Lewis (centre) reacts after scoring his team’s sixth goal in their 7-0 rout of Trinidad and Tobago in Orlando on 31 January 2021.
(Copyright AP Photo/Phelan M Ebenhack)

The professional coach that led us left much to be desired in his decision to take this fixture, and his post-match comments. He could not care less about our national psyche and identity, which is closely tied to sport. 

His perfunctory excuse about proximity measurement required against the best in our region bears little value, because any coach with their fundamentals and technicals in place understands that progression is critical to developing and inspiring belief. 

There was no gradual climb to challenging fixtures after crisis and turmoil in the association and a pandemic that has dented opportunities for preparation. No. The decision was indefensible. 

Let’s take on the best in our region, who happen to be churning out world class talent like a 70s GM auto-plant. Instead of conceding that this was an error, our team leader doubled down, as though Trinidadians are not sophisticated about football at every level. 

At its best, his response was condescending; and at worst, it was dismissive of our culture.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago head coach Terry Fenwick acknowledges fans in the stands during warmups before an international friendly against USA in Orlando on 31 January 2021.
T&T lost 7-0.
(Copyright AP Photo/Phelan M Ebenhack)

Our leadership sanctioned the coach to take a woefully ill-prepared squad to represent all that we are and have been, treating what we hold precious as a disposable commodity to strengthen the confidence and egos of the American machine, as though they need more psychological currency. 

Developing a giant-killer mentality starts with small steps, including confidence-boosting wins and hardening the unit; and it ends with a confident, hungry, and well-prepared David ready to take on an over-confident Goliath.

In boxing, there’s a term called a ‘bad beating’ in which the victims never quite recover to fight at an equal or better level. It is why some fights are not taken and why some corners throw in the towel. 

Where was the initiative to protect these players’ psyche from a ‘bad beating’ that could have been much worse? He has now established inferiority, and if it dwells in the squad it can ingrain defeatism. 

Maybe here is where I insert prospective replacements, but I will not be their HR Department. I would like to see the job posting for national coach. Screening should exclude egregious assault during a game, and disrespect for our history and sensibilities.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago National Senior Team head coach Terry Fenwick oversees practice at the Police Barracks in St James on 3 July 2020.
(Copyright Allan V Crane/CA-Images/Wired868)

Trinidad is replete with talented leaders in the field—at home and worldwide. I do know that we need to stop the desecration, and hire people who understand what we represent. Why do we allow these people to wield this kind of power over what we value precious, yet fragile—our pride? This is by far the worst national embarrassment by score and optic I have witnessed. 

Clearly, it is not just about regime change. Maybe we the people need to hone our inner game dog against bait dog leadership.

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  1. Reminder not to long ago we won an International game 15-0 to a extremely inferior opponent. The majority commented it at that time it was a big ”Joke”…..Fast forward we just played a far superior opponent in which our result are less favorable. The majority commented it was a big “Joke”…….Here is the truth when we beat up Anguilla 15-0 we were the better prepared team, and when the US beat we up 7-0 they were the better prepared team.

    Love or Hate Terry, Lawrence, Lattas, Hutson and Steven at the end of the day until we invest in our teams development with money and personnel accountability this “Joke” will continue.

    Again we need betterment the “Joke” is no longer funny!!!

    • Besides, the joke’s on us! People are laughing AT us–even when we put 15 past Anguilla. They knew what it meant to decide to play Anguilla.

      And I want to assure Talldog that discerning people also knew what it meant to decide to play the US. If you make that choice, you have to be prepared to live with the consequences, whether it’s your first match or your last.

      Teflon terry said that the guys needed to measure themselves against serious opposition. So now that we KNOW beyond the shadow of a doubt that we are emphatically David and the US are Goliath, the relevant question seems to me to be what is the strategy for closing the chasm that separates us.

      And, as Sherwyn Besson pointedly asks in some one of his posts, have we not done irreparable damage to our chances of reducing that distance with the psychological havoc Sunday’s result–as distinct from performance–wreaked on our players?

      What answer, Tallboy, has Teflon Terry so far offered to that all-important question?

      Need I point out that a TV picture paints 1000 words but it is possible to say nothing of substance with 1000 words?

  2. After this piece you won’t be able to convince anyone Mr Liburd that you all are not unfairly attacking the coach… Now not for once don’t think that I found our performance to be sublime and top of the line.
    But this type of commentary after 1 game is MADNESS.
    I’m a trained and skilled MBA, and if this is the assessment of a coach after 1 game from someone that is purporting to have advanced coaching training, I would question that training… Back of the class for this nonsense…
    Allyuh give Lawrence all kinds of bligh and then trying to tell me this behaviour is relevant and somehow is good commentary and journalism.. Big big long steups

  3. Learning is always possible … bad beating … dog against bait … new expressions for me. I may not use them but it is always good to add to your vocabulary.

  4. I think I hear a racial undercurrent towards the end, which is a great pity. In my view, the piece adduces cogent socio-cultural reasons why Fenwick should not be the national coach, whatever his colour.

    But Gally’s team faltered at the last hurdle in 1989 and Beenhakker’s went all the way. That’s a powerful argument in a society where it is better simply because it comes from ‘foreign’…

    • Earl Best, you didn’t hear a racial undercurrent, but a passionate steward of our people and culture challenge a leadership that only views that position as a transaction. Any manager, of any color that can raise our profile on the world stage is welcome. Not convinced that this one is capable of that.

      • You say passion??? I say madness… Crazy people… that’s why our football is regressing… You all claim to be getting more technical education on the sport, but simple common sense is just flying off the table, and being replaced egotistical madness

        • Talldog, anyone could hide behind a SM handle and hurl insults. Put up your real name and justify your insults. You haven’t addressed any of my points. My question to you is this; Understanding that the US took their foot off the gas at 5, and the score could conceivably be in the teens, in what coaching philosophy was this game of any profit considering players’ technical, tactical, or psychological development? What was the lesson here? More so, if the decision to take this high profile game and his team selection are any indicator of his coaching philosophy on his FIRST GAME, what is his vision?

          • Lasana Liburd

            Sherwyn, if a coach shouldn’t expect criticism after a record defeat when exactly SHOULD he expect criticism? Smh. Journalists are not cheerleaders. And it would be good if others employed critical thinking too.