Former Trinidad and Tobago Men’s National Senior Team assistant coach Hutson ‘Baba’ Charles confirmed that he was still a member of head coach Angus Eve’s technical staff up until 23 September, when the Soca Warriors resumed training at the Diego Martin Sporting Complex.
It means that Eve’s decision to replace the former Strike Squad stand-out player and Defence Force title-winning Pro League coach with a data analyst came after Charles was verbally assured last month that he would retain his job with the Soca Warriors.
So what changed?
Charles told Wired868 that he has accepted Eve’s explanation at face value. However, there is something else.
After the Robert Hadad-led normalisation committee publicly revealed a two-year deal for Eve on 2 September, the head coach’s supporting staff had a request of their own.
In June, the normalisation committee, on behalf of the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA), sent each technical staff member an email that outlined their job for the organisation over the next three months. And Charles said several staff members felt the normalisation committee should again provide them with a written commitment—as was standard practice under the William Wallace-led administration.
“Before we started to train, the technical staff had a meeting and [Eve and team manager Richard Piper] said the normalisation committee would get on to you guys (in the technical staff) and I said okay,” said Charles. “My view was that we should wait on the normalisation committee for that [acknowledgement] before we start, because you don’t want to start without knowing under what conditions you’re working.”
The Soca Warriors technical staff comprises persons hired directly by the TTFA and those recruited by the head coach.
National teams director Richard Piper, manager Adrian Romain, logistics manager Basil Thompson, team doctor Akash Dhanai, equipment manager Michael Williams and media manager Shaun Fuentes are employed through the TTFA secretariat or technical department.
However, Eve’s support staff are Charles (assistant coach), Reynold Carrington (assistant coach), Clayton Ince (goalkeeper coach), Adaryll John (strength and conditioning coach), Saron Joseph (performance trainer/massage therapist) and Roger Ryan (physio). And although Eve had a contract, none of his assistants did.
Charles said he spoke to Piper on several occasions and asked him to get acting TTFA general secretary Amiel Mohammed to email the technical staff with word of their new employment status. But they never heard from Mohammed, Hadad or anyone else from the TTFA.
“I asked the other [technical staff members] if they got any contact from the normalisation committee and they said no,” said Charles. “I said until I hear from them, I won’t be going out to train.”
A two-time World Youth Cup assistant coach under Anton Corneal and Zoran Vranes in 2007 and 2009 respectively, a silver medallist as co-head coach at the 2012 Caribbean Cup, twice assistant to Stephen Hart in Gold Cup quarterfinal finishes in 2013 and 2015 and the defending Pro League champion coach with Defence Force, Charles was easily the most accomplished and experienced member of Eve’s staff.
The former soldier did not attend the national training session on 23 September and, it is alleged, neither did Carrington, John and Joseph. Wired868 was unable to reach any one of that threesome .
By the second training day, Charles said Piper called to inquire about his plans. But by then, Eve had apparently made up his mind about an alteration to his staff.
“I got a call [from Piper] saying the coach said don’t bother to come out,” said Charles. “I tried on numerous occasions to get on to the coach by calling after that, but it wasn’t to be…”
About a week later, Piper and Eve invited Charles to an online meeting on Zoom. At that point, Eve apologised for his failure to return his assistant’s calls but informed him that he would be replaced by a data analyst—owing to budgetary considerations.
More than two weeks since the Soca Warriors resumed training, the TTFA is yet to hire a data analyst and Charles is believed to be the only departure from the technical staff.
However, Charles is still giving Eve the benefit of the doubt regarding the reason why he is no longer a part of the national football staff.
“I don’t want to believe that me asking for some sort of confirmation about the job from the normalisation committee has anything to do with me not being there,” said Charles, “because they explained to me that they have a new technical person coming on and they don’t have the money to pay both people. So I said I have no problem with that.”
Wired868 reached out to Eve and Piper for comment on the changes to the technical staff. Neither had replied by the time of publication.
In other national football news, Eve had hoped to play once within the current Fifa match window (4-13 October) and twice in the next international break, which runs from 8-16 November.
With no game scheduled for the next week, the Soca Warriors have already missed two match windows since the July 2021 Gold Cup. Wired868 understands Eve had hoped for an outing against El Salvador this month, but that now looks increasingly unlikely.
The Trinidad and Tobago Men’s National Senior Team have played just one friendly game since the appointment of the normalisation committee in March 2020. That was a 7-0 loss away to the United States on 31 January 2021—under then head coach Terry Fenwick.
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