Former ‘Soca Warriors’ coach hoping for payment

December date for ‘Latas’

RUSSELL LATAPY, the former national senior men’s coach, has a December date which he hopes will be kept with the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA).

‘Latas’ is owed money for coaching services, and is hopeful that the TTFA honours its commitment to pay him. At the same time, the former national ‘Strike Squad’ member is sympathetic to the dire financial situation in which the Association finds itself.

Now assistant-coach in Scotland with Premier League team Inverness Caledonian Thistle, Latapy credits current Trinidad and Tobago national coach Stephen Hart of doing fantastic job, despite the financial climate.

Latapy was speaking in an interview carried on radio station I95.5 on Saturday. “The agreement was no later than December,” said Latapy of his payment agreement with the TTFA. Latapy, who served as national coach between 2009-2011, said the agreement with the TTFA stipulated that financial details need to be kept confidential.

However, mindful of the continued struggles of the Association to gather local financial support, Latapy is uncertain of what payment will be made. “On the evidence of the last seven months, I don’t know how optimistic I can be,” added Latapy.

The TTFA’s debt to Latapy is a carry over from its previous administration, in which former Government minister Jack Warner assumed the role of man-in-charge. A former vice-president of FIFA — world football’s ruling body — Warner was also local football’s main financier, special adviser to the (Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation) TTFF, and chairman of local organising committee of the 2006 World Cup campaign.

Latapy declared that it was Warner who hired him as national coach. The former midfiled general came aboard during the final five matches of the failed 2010 World Cup campaign, as a replacement for Colombian Francisco Maturana.

Latapy also revealed that after the national team failed to qualify for the CONCACAF Gold Cup, he was fired as national coach during a meeting of a panel consisting Warner, general secretary Richard Groden and former TTFF president Oliver Camps.

“I understand that Jack Warner left the Federation in a really bad state, and I understand and I appreciate that (current TTFA president, Raymond) Tim Kee coming aboard accepted a big responsibility to honour a lot of the debts left by Jack Warner,” said Latapy.

“The present administration in Tim Kee and Sheldon (general secretary, Phillip), they have a very tough job to do... with the way the last administration left things.”

Further, Latapy said that he and a lot of other coaches have worked with the Federation, under unfavourable conditions, due to love of football, and with the hope that things would get better. He reiterated debts to such persons need to be honoured.

“Part of the process of rebuilding for our football is paying off debts and moving on, and allowing this new coach (Hart), who has been doing a fantastic job, to move on with a clean slate. Without things hanging over his head,” Latapy said.

“I am not the only coach owed by the Federation. Obviously, we have worked for that money and we need to get paid. And that is the same for all the coaches who are in my situation,” he ended.