“The concept of sport is going to play a very big part towards a young person moving away from a life of crime,” Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith told a CNC3 sport reporter, at the opening of the inaugural Commissioner’s Cup at the Mickey Trotman Recreation Ground in Pinto on 30 June 2019.
At Griffith’s side, visible to the television camera, was controversial English football coach Terry Fenwick.
Fenwick, a former England World Cup player, once served two months in prison for a drunk driving conviction in Leicester. In Trinidad and Tobago, despite facing more serious allegations over his 20-year stay, the Englishman instead found himself on the payroll of the local police and chummy with the twin island republic’s top cop.
When, in November 2019, local business magnate Junior Sammy accused United TTFA presidential candidate William Wallace of fraudulently using his signature during a marketing presentation—based on a document provided by Fenwick—Griffith spoke to both parties, with the contractor agreeing to accept an apology, which was offered by Wallace.
Similarly, after Fenwick had a public altercation with Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) press officer Shaun Fuentes, Griffith was again part of a meeting with the normalisation committee, which resolved the issue in the Englishman’s favour.
Griffith, who might not be the first in the room to identify irony, assured CNC3 that the Commissioner’s Cup would be nothing like the Hoops of Life or LifeSport programmes or ‘any [programme] where the funds will not be actually distributed where it matters most’.
“This is where it matters, straight down into the rank and file of the young persons,” said Griffith, pointing to teenagers playing on the football ground. “All that we have in expenses here [is for] providing uniforms for the young men and the other players, administrative costs, footballs, training…”
It is difficult to see how Griffith could have thought he was speaking the truth. For weeks, members of the organising committee as well as Police Youth Club members complained about a lack of equipment for their respective teams.
On 4 June 2019, the Commissioner’s Cup committee enquired—as a matter of urgency—about the uniforms and balls that Fenwick promised to provide from his ‘international network’ at a ‘reasonable cost’.
Fenwick, according to minutes from the meeting, again vowed to deliver the goods before the tournament kicked off.
“No further communication was ever received from Mr Fenwick, nor any of his associates in this regard,” stated a subsequent report, ostensibly submitted by acting Inspector Keith Phillips.
The officers did not know at the time that Fenwick had invoiced the TTPS for TT$995,000, through the Football Factory Foundation (FFF), since 27 May 2019. It was, according to the document, the first of two tranches requested by the Englishman for the Commissioner’s Cup—although it was the only invoice for the competition intercepted by Trinidad Express investigative journalist Denyse Renne.
Fenwick asked Griffith for a total of TT$2.8 mil to ‘run’ the competition. The Police Youth Club officers’ budget had been TT$360,379.50. It was rejected.
Fenwick’s line items, in the 27 May invoice, included equipment (TT$250,000), technical staff salaries (TT$235,200), administrative staff salaries (TT$190,000), marketing and promotion (TT$100,000), transportation (TT$70,800), and ground rental, maintenance and security (TT$49,200).
Two years later, there is no proof that Fenwick ever delivered anything while neither Fenwick nor Griffith responded to multiple requests from Wired868 to account for how the money was spent. Griffith also did not state the total amount paid, via the TTPS, to Fenwick and his British accomplices.
There were 46 youth teams scheduled to participate in the inaugural Commissioner’s Cup. However, 13 teams withdrew as a result of Fenwick’s failure to deliver uniforms and other equipment, which forced a last-minute restructuring of the competition.
Of the teams that remained, nine from the Northern Division successfully lobbied then Tunapuna Piarco Regional Corporation chairman Paul Leacock to sponsor their uniforms. Some teams borrowed their kit from neighbourhood teams, or their youth club leaders used from their funds.
Then Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) president David John-Williams offered some match balls, while Sports & Games donated practice balls. Otherwise community officers begged in their respective neighbourhoods for everything from balls and nets to boots and anything else their players needed.
Transport was another issue. Another Police Youth Club leader enquired about arrangements for the boys, in what appeared to be a multi-million dollar competition.
“The commissioner said to get the team there however you can,” came the alleged response.
Some team leaders managed to arrange transport for their outfits with police buses. Others dipped into their own pockets.
Fenwick charged close to a quarter of a million dollars, in his first tranche, suposedly to pay his own coaches to conduct training sessions at the various youth clubs. But that did not happen either.
Some youth club leaders conducted their own training sessions, others asked past or present players or coaches in their communities to do it for free, while parents sometimes volunteered out of necessity.
This was the ‘elite’ football competition for which Fenwick asked for TT$2.8 mil from taxpayers.
“I called around to a few youth clubs and everybody said something similar,” said Officer De Niro (not his real name, although chosen by him). “Everybody said we are on our own. We have to find equipment, balls, transport and everything on our own.
“We registered the team, they gave us fixtures—and beyond that we just have to figure it out.”
Worse, the Police Youth Club members claimed to be boxed in by what they described as Fenwick’s ‘parallel budget’ for the competition.
“If we ask for money for balls and somebody is saying balls were provided because they see a line item that money was spent for balls, then it creates a discord,” said Officer Roberts (not his real name). “[…] We had to make do with whatever we could. We just wanted to pull off the competition—not for fame or glory but to keep a promise to the young men who played.”
By 25 July, as the Commissioner’s Cup entered the knockout stage, Acting Inspector Phillips shared his frustration in a formal letter to the police commissioner. He listed Fenwick’s promises as:
- The attendance of representatives from [FFF] at scheduled matches for scouting purposes;
- Assistance with coaching and support for training programs at various clubs in all participating divisions;
- The procurement of equipment such as uniforms, balls, bibs, goal nets, goals etc for training and matches;
- A comprehensive scholarship program for Police Youth Club members who excelled through the entire tournament.
“The above were the main services offered by Mr Fenwick and his Foundation, however to date, none of the above have materialised nor has any communication been received from match commissioners in that regard,” stated the inspector, “with the exception of one representative, namely Mr [Anthony] Harrington of the said Foundation, who visited the match between Edinburgh 500 PYC and Rio Claro PYC on 16 July 2019 in the capacity of a scout.
“[…] Had it not been for the commitment, determination and tenacity of the officers assigned to the Community Policing Secretariat and the Police Youth Club leaders who participated in this initiative, the Office of the Commissioner of Police and the entire TTPS could have been in a very awkward and embarrassing position.”
Fenwick, according to the community officers, had only attended the tournament opener up until then.
Griffith, according to our sources, never officially responded to the inspector. Had he done so, he might have corrected Phillips on one point.
In Fenwick’s invoice on 27 May 2019, there was a line item for TT$100,000 for the ‘first batch select (2) players’ under ‘scholarship mobilisation’. No players were identified.
However two days after he submitted the invoice, Fenwick announced, via a press release, that the police commissioner’s son, Gary Griffith III, and Brandon Alves—both Football Factory players—had been awarded scholarships to Sunderland College in England, through two British companies, Catalyst4 Professional Sports Management Limited and Improtech, that he was at least loosely involved in.
“The partnership between FFF and the TTPS will provide expertise, knowledge and experience in the upcoming Commissioner’s Cup and Scholarship Program,” stated Fenwick, “to ensure a solid, professional and achievable program to project our program nationwide through the multiple police youth clubs.”
Griffith spent much of the last two years boasting about his son’s scholarship, which he claimed was the first of its kind awarded to a Trinidad and Tobago player. But did the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service pay for Griffith III’s ‘scholarship’—with money meant for the best performing players at the Commissioner’s Cup? (Neither Griffith nor Alves even participated in the competition.)
Wired868 asked Griffith the question directly. He did not respond up to the time of publication.
It is uncertain how many payments were put through for the Commissioner’s Cup’s ‘scholarship programme’ before Griffith finally pulled the plug on 1 June 2021. By then, inexplicably, the vehicle for the payments had moved from Catalyst4 to Bad Wolf Sports.
Bad Wolf Sports, which lists another controversial Englishman, Peter Miller, as company director and Fenwick as ‘technical director’, requested TT$800,000 from the TTPS for its ‘scholarship programme’ on 12 April 2020—although the company was not officially registered until 8 October 2020.
On 1 June, as Denyse Renne and Wired868 investigated the company, Griffith stopped a TTPS payment of TT$188,000 to the Ireland-based company. He said his change of heart was based on ‘due diligence’—at least 14 months after Bad Wolf, a ghost company at the time, sent him its first financial request.
Another Bad Wolf director, Perry Deakin, gave a different reason for Griffith’s about-turn.
“I believe we have been dragged into the middle of a significant ‘falling-out’ between Terry Fenwick and Commissioner of Police, Gary Griffith,” stated Deakin, in an email to Moorland Private School headteacher Jonathan Harrison that was copied to Griffith. “It seems Terry did not bring his son on as a substitute for his first senior cap in a recent international and they have fallen out quite badly about it.
“I am absolutely livid that we are being embroiled in this, particularly as we had set out to make a genuine difference with the proposed programme which would impact positively upon youngsters in the region. Fortunately, I have significant written records regarding correspondence with FFF and TTPS (and between ourselves of course)…”
Griffith denied that Fenwick’s failure to give his son a national senior team cap was a factor in his decision to terminate the business deal with Bad Wolf Sports.
Griffith and Fenwick appeared inseparable during the 2019 Commissioner’s Cup, though. If Griffith III and Alves benefited from that, hundreds of young men from deprived households across the country did not appear to be so lucky.
“Fenwick only donated six or nine balls for the [Commissioner’s Cup] final in the [St James] Barracks and that was it,” said Officer Roberts. “We were later made to understand that equipment did come into the country in the name of the TT Police Service—which would have meant no Customs fees—but it never actually got to the Police Service.
“[…] For the entire competition, there were no screenings of players, no equipment dispensed, no training or coaching. Nothing that the TTPS paid for came to fruition. For me, the money was paid under false pretence.”
He claimed that Police Youth Club leaders were embarrassed whenever players and parents enquired about the promised ‘elite zonal teams’ or scholarships.
“In hindsight, the Commissioner’s Cup appeared to become an avenue to facilitate a friend financially,” said the officer. “The children who needed help the most were exploited to make that happen.”
Regardless, he hopes the idea of the Commissioner’s Cup does not die with Griffith—if he is replaced as commissioner.
“If there is a new commissioner, we are willing to walk the ground again to get the country’s parents to buy in,” he said. “I heard a brilliant idea from [Rhoda Bharath] recently who wondered why we had not looked at local universities like UTT for scholarships. Well, the truth is we were just naive because the English guy made us all of those promises and we took them in good faith.”
His dream is for the Commissioner’s Cup to become a huge community event, which can draw large crowds. He hopes the tournament does not open its doors to external teams—as Griffith threatened to do last year, in an apparent bid to quell internal concerns about broken promises—which could force youth clubs to compete with established teams like San Juan Jabloteh and Club Sando for young talent.
“It should remain a police youth club initiative, which will see our own membership increase,” he said. “But we need to honour our commitments where prizes and incentives for the players are concerned. We must make our yes yes and our no no.
“If the Olympics is not proof that sport is dying, I don’t know what else we need. This can be an avenue to wake-up football!”
Whether the TTPS has a duty to local sport is a matter that may come up for debate again within the Service.
Wired868 asked Officer Roberts what changes he would recommend for the Commissioner’s Cup in the future.
“What I would change? No Fenwick!”
For a third Police Youth Club leader, who also spoke on condition of anonymity, the police commissioner is as bad as Fenwick. He accused Griffith of financially ‘gutting; the Police Youth Club and draining the enthusiasm of its officers, even as he took credit in the media for promoting sport.
“His impact has been degenerative,” he said. “Plenty officers fraid him and his petty, narcissistic ways. Others have low self-esteem and they take anything from him in the hope that he would call their name at a press conference or praise them in a TTPS social media post.”
And had he, Wired868 asked, challenged Griffith’s ideas for the Commissioner’s Cup, his employment of Fenwick or anything else?
“Like you don’t understand the Police Service,” he replied. “There can’t be no disagreement here. It is comply and then complain—complain to your God!”
Editor’s Note: Wired868 questions sent to Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith via email and text message:
Can you tell me how much money was paid to Terry Fenwick for equipment and services for the 2019 Commissioner’s Cup? Please be as detailed as possible.
How do you respond to complaints about Fenwick’s failure to deliver on his promises for the tournament? Was any action taken against Fenwick as a result?
Did Fenwick breach his contract in your opinion or anyone else’s at the TTPS? Were payments made to Fenwick or anyone else for the 2020 Commissioner’s Cup, which did not come off?
Why did you use your personal email address for TTPS business? Why did you involve Fenwick in the Commissioner’s Cup in the first place?
Was your son’s scholarship to Sunderland College part of the negotiations involving the Commissioner’s Cup? Did the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service pay for your son’s ‘scholarship’ to Sunderland College?
Griffith had not responded to any questions by the time of publication.
Click HERE to read Part One.
Wired868 has provided readers with solid, independent journalism since 2012. If you appreciate our work, please contribute to our efforts.
Support Independent Journalism