Read the latest Soca Warriors Online (SWO) exclusive with TT Pro League CEO' Dexter Skeene as he touches on a few interesting questions thrown at him about the current state of the TT Pro League.
But before this wonderful interview, lets get to know a little about the League's CEO.
Dexter Skeene has represented Trinidad and Tobago at both junior and senior levels from 1982-1993 on more than thirty occasions (including World Cup Qualifiers).
He has played for St. Mary’s College (1975 - 1981), Malta Carib Alcons and Maple Sports Club. he also he represented Columbia University (1982 – 1985) where he became an All-American and Senior Bowl participant.
He was Head Coach of the Trinidad and Tobago National Women’s Football Team for the period 1996-1998 and is the Co-Founder and Director of Skeene/Hyacenth Football Institute (SKHY), a Youth Football Club based in T&T that regularly partake in many international youth tournaments including to well known Dallas Cup.
The former Maple player has a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Economics from Columbia University and a certificate in marketing, public relations and advertising from the University of the West Indies (1986-1981).
He was employed as an assistant manager with Workers Bank (1992 – 1997), trade education manager, World Trade Centre, T&T (1997 – 1998) Equity Specialist at The Ministry of Finance.
Currently, he is the Trinidad and Tobago Pro League Chief Executive Officer (CEO), a position he held since April 3rd, 2004. Now with all of this experience one can only assume that the Pro League has been on the inclined since its inception? - I'll let you be the judge.
In the meantime, the well traveled and experienced former T&T player took the time-out to do a quick Question and Answer for us on the Soca Warriors Online (SWO) and we are grateful for such.
1 - My believe is that any team/s that wants to participate in the T&T Pro League must be required to compete/show finances of 2 years and must oblige or face a FIFA sanction. (I:E - T&TEC FC).
I concur, the TT Pro League has several requirements presently for applicants to fulfill among which includes proof of the ability to fund the team operations for 2 years, marketing plan, youth development structure and designated home ground. We are also looking at a system similar to the fit and proper test which is implemented in Europe.
2 - I assume that 2011-12 Pro League runners-up T&TEC FC has pulled out of next season and gave up a chance to play in next year's CFU tournament after they qualified for it. If this is true then I think it’s only fair the spot should be given to 3rd place finisher (Caledonia AIA). T&TEC latest move robbed T&T a place in next year's tournament and they should be held responsible. Not to mention it affects players and other employees.
Up to this point, T&TEC FC will be participating in the 2012-2013 edition of the TT Pro League. Last season they brought a lot of excitement to the league with their supporters who were quite vociferous and engaged in the type of activities we wish to encourage in the League. I am looking forward to their continued participation for many years to come.
3 - The T&T League should consider combining with other Caribbean countries which participate in the CFU/Concacaf Cups and approach FIFA for financial support once they qualify for such tournament.
CONCACAF allocates part funding to the clubs which qualify for the CONCACAF Club Championship (CCC) and as a result Caledonia AIA and W Connection will receive some assistance for the 2012 tournament.
4 - As a good friend on the SWO once mentioned to me, the League administrators should consider running a fantasy league tournament. This would get fans more interested in the game and in the players as well. It could also attract sponsors to help pay for their website? Teams also need to consider selling shirts and online too.
I think this is a good idea. A group has approached us about it and we are in discussions with them presently. With regard to the sale of shirts and other forms of merchandising, it is an aspect of the business that they are developing. North East Stars has had some success in this area.
5 - Obviously, the Stadiums in T&T are affecting attendance; no one wants to drive through traffic to go see teams play especially teams with no big name players. Clubs should immediately consider relocating back to their communities and should also consider changing their names to suit their communities. I am sure they can build home grounds that would be approved by FIFA ?
The upgrading of fields in the communities represented by the clubs is very high on the agenda of the TT Pro League. We have been in discussions with the Ministry of Sport and the Sports Company to do the requisite work necessary to facilitate the teams being able to play within their communities while affording them the opportunity to obtain gate receipts and create a link with their home fans. This entails ensuring that grounds are secured with changing rooms and fields are upgraded. We have identified the grounds that are appropriate for the various clubs and the Sport Company has agreed and is trying to make it possible for several of them to be ready for use during the course of the 2012-2013 season.
The rent fee of the Stadiums is also costing teams money to rent when that money could go back to the clubs instead of the government.
The League has obtained the approval of the Honourable Minister of Sport Anil Roberts, for the clubs to be afforded the facility to play at the various stadium free of charge, so cost to play the matches is not an issue.
6 - Can a salary cap help… a minimum and a maximum For example; I met the manager of North East Stars (Avrin Beckles) in Brooklyn last week at the T&T Combine and he told me T&T players play with no heart and they expect a lot in return from the clubs. He said he can get cheaper players from other Caribbean Countries and also South America (Brazil too) cheaper than T&T players but choose not to get too many simply because he wants to help the local guys. By the way, he said that the NE Stars Brazilian coach told him T&T players are very talented like South Americans but not too smart with the ball at their feet.
The Board has discussed this issue in the past but has not seen it as a factor which will play a major part in improving the standard or quality of play. In any organization the manager or coach has the responsibility to motivate players, it is a two way street and I believe we have the talent locally here in Trinidad and Tobago to be competitive in the Concacaf region. Continuous exposure at this level will help us to improve and perform consistently. Caledonia AIA and W Connection have just qualified for the CONCACAF club championship by winning and taking the runners up positions respectively in the recently concluded CFU championships. It is a step in the right direction as both teams have youthful squads and this augurs well for the future.
7 - We need to have a voting system and a fair one for Pro League administrators. One should not be able to be in office after two terms, and a term should be 3 years.
The TT Pro League is a limited liability company where the shareholders are the clubs that make up the league. The League is not structured like a national sporting organistion or body in which instance your point may have been valid. In that instance officers are elected, in a limited liability company the shareholders are entitled to choose the board, while the chairman and CEO are hired by the board.
8 - This WoLF league is great, but why didn't the organisers try to combine it with the T&T League and run games/fixtures as double headers with Pro League games.
The TT Pro League collaborated with the WoLF League last year where we held a double header with them at one of our KO finals. We will continue to work with them wherever there are synergies to assist with the promotion and crowd support of both leagues.
9 - Super League winners and runner's-up should get promoted to the Pro League and be given some financial backing to help them compete while there. In reverse, the bottom two Pro League teams should be relegated.
Coming out of discussions between the Pro League and the TTFF a few years ago, the system is in place for the winner of the Super League to be promoted to the TT Pro League. The situation has been that the winners have not been able to fulfill the requirements necessary to make the transition.
10 – There are too many small football tournaments in T&T. These tournaments should be considered the third division and the top 3 teams should win promotion to the Super League. All leagues must work under the same umbrella.
There is a promotion system to become eligible to play in the Super League from the Zonal level. The various winners of the North, South, East, Central and Eastern Counties have a playoff called the Champion of Champions (COC) from which the first two places are promoted to the Super League. Then there are the minor leagues which operate in the various districts for players who do not wish to commit the necessary time to training.
11 - On a personal note, I just can't believe these big oil companies draining Trinidad dry and not doing much for the communities and no one seems to care. E.g. Petrotrin.
Anytime you are in T&T be sure to give us a call so we can discuss further. Thanks.
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