“[…] I am certain that there are some with less qualifications [than myself] that have led our Men’s National Senior Team in the past. However, it seems that all of the above does not qualify me to be an assistant to a foreigner with no first team experience.
“To what do I attribute my snubbing? Money? Evidently, Fifa has provided a substantial sum towards women’s football and when there is money, we automatically go foreign.
“If one look at the composition of the staff it makes you wonder. I know nothing of the assistant coach, but what makes James Baird a better goalkeeping option than Glennon Foncette—hands down, for me, the best goalkeeping coach in the country—or, for that matter, Trevor Nottingham?”
The following is a press statement by former Trinidad and Tobago Women’s National Senior Team head coach Richard Hood, who was overlooked for the role of national head coach AND assistant coach—with both jobs going to Welsh coaches with no experience as a head coach at any level:
I am obviously disappointed in what has transpired as it relates to the selection of the support staff for the Women’s National Senior Team. In fact, I view this as a slap in the face of all local coaches in general and, in particular, those that have been working in the said program tirelessly for years without remuneration.
Coaches like Marlon Charles, Rajesh Latchoo, Jason Spence, Glennon Foncette, Chris Bailey and myself, to name a few.
I have worked in this program since 2008. I was assistant coach of the 2010 Under-17 team that competed at the World Cup in Trinidad and Tobago. That team holds the distinction of being the only team from this country to win a game in any Fifa World Cup tournament.
I led the Women’s Senior Team to a runner up position in the CFU Olympic Qualifiers in 2011, which was the greatest disappointment of my coaching career so far.
I was in charge of the team that competed in the Pan American games the said year, where most noteworthy, we drew with the mighty Mexico 1-1—one of my proudest moments. In actuality, we should have won that game as they were granted a ghost penalty and we were denied a perfectly good goal by an errant offside flag.
I was asked to lead the team again on short notice to the Concacaf Olympic qualifiers in 2016, following the firing of Randy Waldrum. We lost in the semi-final to the USA.
And finally, I led the Under-20s to the quarter finals of the 2020 Concacaf tournament.
I have highlighted my career in the program to point out that the only period I was contracted by the TTFA, was last year working under the United TTFA. Previously, I was in receipt of a stipend and, as was the case of all my stints with the Senior Team, for thanks.
Local coaches have worked assiduously to improve the standard of play with extremely limited resources and we have foolishly accepted it because of love of country and the players. There was never money when a local coach was at the helm.
I recall being told by the president [David John-Williams] at the time that I had done a good job following the 2016 tournament, only to read in the dailies some time later that a ‘top international coach’ was being brought in to lead the program: Carolina Morace.
By the way, the understanding was that I was supposed to get the job based on our performance [at the Olympic qualifiers]. I guess we should have beaten the number one team in the world and then go on to win the whole thing.
I have attained the highest possible qualifications one could have obtained locally: the English FA. I have done the UEFA ‘A’ Preparatory Course, I am one of only six certified KNVB coaching instructors in the country and I hold an Advanced Diploma from the Brazilian Football Academy.
I am certain that there are some with less qualifications that have led our Men’s National Senior Team in the past. However, it seems that all of the above does not qualify me to be an assistant to a foreigner with no first team experience.
To what do I attribute my snubbing? Money? Evidently, Fifa has provided a substantial sum towards women’s football and when there is money, we automatically go foreign.
If one look at the composition of the staff it makes you wonder. I know nothing of the assistant coach [Charlie Mitchell], but what makes James Baird a better goalkeeping option than Glennon Foncette—hands down, for me, the best goalkeeping coach in the country—or, for that matter, Trevor Nottingham?
What of the Fifa criteria that the candidate must have worked with elite female goalkeepers for at least five years? Was that criteria met or did it matter at all?
Foncette has been in the program as long as I have and has worked with more national teams than myself. He was the number one choice of Carolina Morace who told the then president to ‘give Glennon what he wants’ by way of remuneration.
He’s suddenly not good enough in favour of James Baird?! Really?!
If I’m honest—and I always try to be, as well as objective—I’m mostly disappointed in the members of the selection committee. Not necessarily as a result of the decisions, but mostly because of their absolute silence following the interview process.
I’ve always had an excellent relationship with director of women’s football Jinelle James and with technical director Dion La Foucade as well. I interviewed on 25 June. To date I have not heard a word from either of them.
I would have thought that given the fact that I was basically chosen for the role of assistant coach by both, a word as to the direction things was going would have been warranted.
It was revealed in a Guardian newspaper article that Dernelle Mascall and I were appointed assistant coaches to the senior national team. There was a furore raised by coaches of WoLF and further by the Coaches Association, of which Dernelle and I were both executive members.
Apparently, it was felt that somehow we benefitted from our executive positions. How exactly? Did Dernelle and I hold secret meetings with the normalisation committee?
I was vilified over social media for not notifying other members of the committee that I had accepted the position, which was compounded further by the utterances of other committee members. We were summarily dismissed via text and email, all without the benefit of speaking to either Dernelle or myself.
I admit to naively revealing to Guardian journalist Walter Alibey that I had accepted the position when he confronted me with information that WoLF coaches were vexed about being bypassed in the process, which honestly threw me for a loop. I therefore felt that the information was out there, so I confirmed it.
Prior to that, I did mention to [fellow coaches association member] Angus Eve that I had conversations about being part of the program but revealed nothing further as nothing was concrete. Only my family was aware that there was an agreement between the TTFA and myself, as I met with the director of women’s football and she outlined her vision for the program with my involvement.
Later I came to an agreement regarding terms with the acting general secretary [Amiel Mohammed]. I did not reveal anything to anyone outside of my family regarding our agreement as I felt that it was proper for the TTFA to make an announcement. That was my thought process. Nothing more.
At the moment I feel let down but life goes on. I am still gainfully employed and still have my role and responsibilities to Police FC, which I embrace as vigorously as ever.
I love my country and have always made myself available to assist whenever and wherever possible with the development of the game and, rather foolishly, it was never about money.
I await the the public outcry and to hear what our Coaches Association has to offer regarding this situation, if anything.
Editor’s Note: The Women’s National Senior Team technical staff consists of James Thomas (head coach), Charlie Mitchell (assistant coach and performance analyst), James Baird (goalkeeper coach), Joanne Daniel (team manager), Terry Johnson-Jeremiah (equipment manager), Atiba Downes (strength and conditioning coach) and Aqilya Gomez (rehab specialist).
Click HERE to read about the appointment of the staff.