Kenwyne Jones is the highest-paid Trinidad and Tobago professional footballer and is currently earning more money at English Premier League club Sunderland than compatriot Dwight Yorke made at the peak of his career when landing the Premier League, FA Trophy and UEFA Champions League ten years ago with Manchester United.
The figures were disclosed by FIFA vice-president and Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation special adviser Jack Warner.
"Dwight Yorke told me just last week that Kenwyne Jones is earning in two years what he, Dwight Yorke, earned in ten years. That Kenwyne Jones' salary today is 35,000 pounds per week. Twenty-three years old, twenty-three years old...and that tells you something. And they would not pay that if our football was not good," Warner stated.
Warner spilled the beans when speaking at a TSTT Foundation-sponsored youth symposium on Thursday at the Cascadia Hotel, St Ann's.
He was the feature speaker before an audience of mainly secondary school children and was illustrating the point that football can be a profitable and viable career for those who work hard at it. Warner was also reinforcing his argument that Trinidad and Tobago football had grown despite recent setbacks.
"Sometimes after I look at a match like we played against the USA and I wonder. But then I look at that match as an aberration and I say overall we have improved. And this is why I say we improve--we have more footballers playing football overseas today than ever before," Warner declared, while adding that foreign clubs do not pay good money for bad players.
"Two weeks ago we qualified to play at the FIFA Under-20 World Cup. Our first match is against hosts Egypt. Before I left Cairo last week, on every pole, at every station, every bus (read)...September 24, Egypt versus Trinidad and Tobago. I have seen more about my country in Egypt in the last week than I have seen here for the Summit (Fifth Summit of the Americas)."
Warner argued that for a small country of just over one million people, Trinidad and Tobago had made several great strides in football, including qualifying for the 2006 World Cup in Germany. And he said the most recent achievements are a sign that local football continues to improve.
"I have seen our country qualify for South Korea (Under-17) in 2007, and we are hosting a women's World Cup next year in 2010, September 5-25 we are hosting a FIFA Under-17 Women's World Cup and all that could not be if our football wasn't getting better and if our football wasn't organised. But having said so, there is much more that we can do. We must try and have every school child love a football. You must take it across the arm and love it like a baby because when you love a football you learn to love the sport. I have asked the Minister of Sports to put lights on every playing field in the country so that a lot of people can play football at late hours."
Finally, Warner added that for T&T football to continue improving better coaching was needed. He stressed that many who say they are coaches are not certified.
"I have made the point that our football has to be more organised in the region. We have to have better coaching," he insisted. "The country does not have enough coaches...too few coaches in the country. Every young man who puts on a track pants and a track suit believes he is a coach. They won't take their time to do courses and to do refreshers. And I say to them that is the area where we are weak because I tell you every man with a trowel is not a mason. And every man with a nail in his mouth and a hammer is not a carpenter. So why should every man with a ball and track suit be a coach. These are areas where we are deficient and these are areas that need to be corrected quickly. But there is hope."