After my column last week about the ongoing craziness with Badminton in the country, I received an email from a gentlemen who stated that he is on the Badminton Association and that what I wrote about is just the tip of the iceberg. He proceeded to send me 20 bullet points on some unbelievable events in T&T Badminton but I will address these soon.
What caught my attention last week was the headline, “TTFA buried in secrecy”. It is always necessary to put things into context so let us go back to the past and highlight some facts. In November 2015, the then TTFA President Raymond Tim Kee was removed from office as it was perceived that he was not doing a good job and he was challenged by three others for the top job at the TTFA. Tim Kee was defeated by the then owner of W Connection F.C. and in his manifesto, he promised the football fraternity that the face of football will change. It was well documented that he promised accountability, transparency and good governance among other things. The stakeholders asked for this so I would think the people of T&T would have been happy as at last they must have felt that change in the beautiful game was approaching.
What has gone wrong in 2.5 years? Or what has gone right? Let us begin with our Russia 2018 World Cup campaign. To date I have not seen an analysis of the campaign or an explanation for some of the bizarre decisions that were taken which ultimately derailed our very promising World Cup ambitions. No one has said anything apart from expressing how much of a great victory it was against the USA which eliminated them from the campaign. It appears that we fired Stephen Hart because the USA fired Jürgen Klinsmann as Hart was sacked just three days after Klinsmann. Neither team qualified for the World Cup. Then came Gold Cup 2017 qualification. We brought in another coach (with a poor track record) and we were beaten by Suriname with Haiti qualifying ahead of us for CONCACAF's top tournament.
We hired a Women's football coach with an impressive CV in Carolina Morace. She left prematurely saying that she wasn't being paid. Another terrible embarrassment for the country; again, nothing said. The latest soap opera is the CONCACAF T&T Women's Under 20 team in which we finished dead last and to date no one has said anything except some garbage that has been dumped on the football loving public of T&T. There was little marketing of the tournament, therefore it stands to reason that the tournament was a huge financial loss to the TTFA. I wonder if we will ever know what was the loss incurred for the tournament.
All our national football is now being played at the 'home of football', the Ato Boldon Stadium. I saw the land was cleared and work has started on the different buildings that are apparently being constructed for this new 'home of football'. I did my own inquiries and reached out to three board members of the TTFA and asked some simple questions: (1) Who submitted bids to construct the 'home of football? (2) Who won the bid? (3) Who selected the company that won the bid? (4) How much is this costing? (5) Who is funding it? (6) Who is managing this whole 'home of football' construction? I received blank looks from all with one even stating to me, “you know those are some good questions, but Colin I really don't know”.
It is incredible that at least three board members that I spoke to do not have a clue about the cost and which company actually won the bid for construction. That is on the assumption that there was a tender process in existence to begin with. I saw the Minister of Sport and the Chairman of SPORTT posing for the media (as they usually do) at the site while construction work was ongoing, so maybe either one of those goodly gentlemen can excuse themselves from taking photos and give an answer to these pertinent questions as someone must unveil to the public the secret behind the 'home of football'.
Lastly, what has the TTFA done to assist referees who play a crucial role in the beautiful game? They are some of the most maligned people in this country and around the world. When you examine their situation, it is becoming critical. Their compensation package is archaic, they go for months without being paid, few new referees are breaking down the door to get into the profession, and there has been a steady reduction in the number of FIFA referees in recent years; even though we saw a picture a few weeks ago with the TTFA president posing again with the FIFA officials. We now have seven FIFA officials on the panel. Jamaica has 13, almost twice the amount as us. The resources required to develop referees are clearly lacking.
The beautiful game in this country needs plastic surgery and we need it fast because the beauty is vast becoming ugly.