Newly appointed Head Coordinator of Technical Programs for the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association Jamaal Shabazz said he’s looking forward to executing his duties in overseeing the technical development programs being put on by the association beginning in 2017.
His appointment was announced at the TTFA Press Conference on Wednesday. Shabazz served as head coach of Guyana in three separate stints over a ten-year period and is a former T&T national senior women’s team head coach as well as co-head coach and assistant coach of the T&T Men’s Senior Team.
In explaining his role, he stated : “My role is not really as an active coach but it is to coordinate projects and programs initiated by the technical director and the TTFA and get it up and running; and also to see if I can cut through the red tape and bureaucracy. For instance we need to get the women’s program up and running. We have started by appointing Carolina Morace and it’s to now to get the programme on the move.”
Shabazz will also oversee the TTFA’s Elite Youth Development Programme during his three-year appointment.
“I will be focusing on the elite youth development programme sponsored by NLCB, overseeing it and ensuring it is managed properly. I will also be involved in coach education and setting up courses and ensuring they are run properly throughout the length and breadth of the country. The intention is to helps to develop our coaches and provide opportunities not just on courses but also by enabling them to travel overseas and spend time with a club. We have spoken about this in past administrations and now my job is to walk the talk,” he added.
He also intends to engage more football stalwarts in the country who were not being utilised sufficiently.
“We also intend to engage a lot more with these persons. There are a lot of minds in Trinidad and Tobago that are being under-utilised in football and they have so much to offer based on their experience. The Corneal family comes up, persons like Keith Look Loy and Everald “Gally” Cummings and others. There are so many people who have made their mark and can contribute and we can find some niche for them to be able contribute.
“We are also going to consider the young and upcoming coaches. And we have the next generation of coaches who need opportunity after they have given yeomen service in local football at the club and school level. This type of engagement could provide some employment opportunities as well.”
Shabazz added that one of his projects would be to set up a program for the Under 17 team to prepare for the next Under 20 World Cup qualification under Russell Latapy.
“One of the projects on my agenda is to kickstart Latapy’s Under 17 team to have it become the next Under 20 team and Russell has already initiated plans for them to start (training) in January. There may have been players he may have missed when he just came into the program, but certainly he is now going to start the new under 20 team which will be under 18s for 2017 and he will have two years with that team and there will be some longevity there.
“Russell Latapy is an icon. As a player he has stepped of the field and he is now into coaching. He is very qualified. He can still go out there and demonstrate and excite the kids and show them how it’s done I think he has a major role to play in youth development and it also helps him with his future role to possibly take up the national senior team one day again,” Shabazz added.
Shabazz will also serve as a Technical Adviser in the TTFA.
“Part of my responsibility is to advise people in the TTFA and those who have technical responsibilities, coaching the national teams. For instance Carolina (Morace) is coming to Trinidad and Tobago as a very experienced coach in the world but will little knowledge of this country. I have had 20 years experience in women’s football and I would be able to advise her and say things like ‘Don’t go down that road Carolina, there are some bad dogs on that road.”
“Now I am very happy to live this new life to help other coaches and to open up other opportunities. I know also about doors being closed, being discriminated against and be denied opportunities. For me now it’s an enthusiasm to create opportunities for everyone. There is still a lot of disunity and division in football in Trinidad and Tobago and in the Caribbean, especially after the FIFA scandal.
Football is a team game and if we are coaches, administrators, club owners and officials, and if we, understanding it is a team game, cannot come together nationally with everyone working and pulling in the same direction then we have missed what football is about. I also see my job as a religious duty to my Lord to help bring people together and let’s try to build a nation,” Shabazz said.