Curtains fall, a new dawn beckons
Today is the beginning of a New Year and the Soca Warriors Online (SWO) has decided to kick it off on an interesting note, a new chapter is set to begin in Trinidad and Tobago football and we would like to treat our readers with a total football dialogue.
As we all know, since it's participation at the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany, Trinidad and Tobago football has reached its lowest point ever.
Without blaming anyone or getting into the "we should have done this or that" conversation, we all know the root of the problem is mainly an administrative one. We also know that greed and dictatorial leadership played main roles in where we are today.
The point of this article however, is to draw a line from here on, encourage a fresh start and hope that the ones who are now in charged at the TTFF are not thick headed as their predecessors. The milk has already been spilt. Let’s now turn a new page, learn from our mistakes and try to rebuild together as a nation to help save our football from getting any worst than it is already.
The SWO has decided to touch base with some of the men who where, and still are currently involved with T&T football at some capacity to answer and share their views pertaining to one question, "What do you feel must be done in order to see T&T football move forward?" We all know that in November 2011 a similar topic was discussed during the National Consultation on Football (NCF) by all relevant parties, but these interviews are a little more direct and they involve people who were not at the (NCF).
While some other members of the T&T football fraternity declined to answer, we really do appreciate the time and effort taken by the ones who shared their views on the way forward with us.
All participants made it very clear that they have so much to say, but hoped the few contributions they made can help assist in moving T&T’s football forward.
Former San Juan Jabloteh head coach Terry Fenwick was first off the blocks, followed by current senior team interim head coach Anton Corneal, Kelvin Jack and former Strike Squad defender Brian Williams.
Terry Fenwick's contribution.
"Fundamental changes to T&T Football are needed. Critical is the need to change the current structure of the College league where competitive Inter-Col sides are not school boys anymore but men.”
“The criteria for schools football must be 16-17 age group competing and not the 20 year old men we are seeing today.”
“At 20, most youths in other footballing Nations would have received 6-8 years development from a professional club.”
“Kids that stay on at school here in T&T to solely compete in Inter-Col are restricting younger players and invariably find themselves too old to gain employment through professional football contracts.”
“The “Old farts” at the top of T&T football will not change because of the current structure of the constitution, which insures the usual suspects retain their positions and salaries without being accountable.”
“At this level there has to be some level of pride, commitment and accountability from these individuals?
“What could change is the competence of the technical and administrative staff that quite clearly is not good enough.”
“It is essential that the new governing body recognizes the deficiencies of the last regime and ensure the football operations are serviced by competent technical staff, efficient administrators while maintaining accountability throughout!"
"Also, the TTFF must stop projecting the national youth teams like “club” teams. National teams should not be training kids twice weekly; it interferes with PFL Club development and kills the pride and passion associated with a national team call up?"
"The board of the Pro-League clubs has got to change, there must be an independent board of business people that can restructure and plot the course for the future of T&T football."
"For the sake of promoting and marketing of the games, fixtures must be consistent and International dates must remain on FIFA regulated dates only!"
"There can be no “conflict of interest” with administrators also participating in their own football agenda’s. Clearly this is wrong and nowhere else in the world would this be tolerated?"
"Marketing of the games and players are essential, we don’t recognize our own players here in T&T, and they are treated very badly!!! The ProLeague teams should continue to provide good development programs to assist the national effort."
Football Players Association of Trinidad and Tobago (FPATT)
"Must be revisited and responsible personnel appointed to run it.
Ministry of Sport
"Where are our community grounds that were promised 18 months ago? To date, Nicki Minaj, what position does she play?” ended Fenwick.
Anton Corneal's contribution.
"Here are some of the things we need to implement to reach our fullest potential Flex."
"A complete development program in our zones, starting at U-13, this program must follow a syllabus specific to the age group. Same for U-15s and U-17s"
"The Youth World Cups are every two years, so each team has four years of preparation to this tournament and we must give the Elite players exposure and experience to the international game at a very young age, no coach can coach this area in the game."
"Professional football must be continued in our country, aiming towards the highest standard of play possible."
"Hopefully creative ways would be found to increase the passion and intensity of play as this is an important ingredient at the international level."
"It may mean taking the game back to the communities so that players are accountable to their crowds and home towns. To coach at this level every coach must be certified."
"A physical and mental program must be designed to be integrated within practice sessions for optimum results. Coaches must be qualified in these fields or external help can be attained."
"All clubs need to have qualified coaches leading each age group team; also a national syllabus can be implemented."
"There must be a National Coaching Academy (which is now in existence) to bring accountability to our young players and educate coaches in all areas of the game."
"This covers: High schools, clubs, coaching schools, primary school, community coaches, professional team coaches and future and current national coaches."
"This program is aligned to the Dutch methodology of coaching but geared towards our needs in the Caribbean."
"High level coaches should work towards more advanced licensing internationally or find ways to work with accomplish international coaches or clubs."
"There must be more emphasis made in schools towards physical education, basic agility, balance, coordination, rhythm and flexibility. This can be gained in school, kids do not play informally any more so we have lost some of the natural benefits of play due to all those hand held games."
"Community grassroots programs must be organized to target kids from 6years—12years of age. This type of program will help develop the all-round kid, e.g., life skills can be taught using football as the vehicle. Mini tournaments can be organized quarterly between the areas."
"College’s league (high school) is an important part of our development, but we must be weary that the “elite player” is not challenged at this level. Anywhere else in the world a player at this age with potential is being challenged against the best players at his age or knocking on the door of a professional contract."
"I believe once we are in the year of world cup qualifiers at the Concacaf level, the National Youth players should be exempted from this competition. These players need to play against older and better competition either at home or abroad to prepare them for these competitions."
"In the US these players will be in camp two years prior to the tournament, in Mexico these players would all be affiliated to professional teams training daily and playing many international games, the same for Costa Rica, Honduras, and others."
"We need to work with the college’s league with their youth tournament to help guide their rules and regulations especially at U-16 and U-14 level, e.g., more substitutions for the younger age groups, giving more players a chance to play."
"Primary schools must also be guided and helped with their rules and regulations, proper size fields, balls, goals and competitions. This age is crucial for proper development, so all coaches need to be adequately qualified."
"A player database must be constructed to tract players that left the country to play abroad, attend school, or from Trinidad and Tobago parents. This can be done through a web site that’s updated weekly. Bi-annual camps can be held in the U.S. and the U.K. to screen players at all age groups."
"Our sporting icons should be used to help ignite the dreams of these many kids. This can be done through lectures and sessions specifically organize in schools, clubs, regional and national teams."
"It is impossible to accomplish a program of this magnitude without the cooperation of the Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation, the Ministry of Sport, and the business sector."
"A complete department for the development of football which would oversee all the said areas above must be organized,“ ended Corneal.
Kelvin Jack's contribution.
"First of all, I think football fans, in their subconscious, expect Trinidad and Tobago to qualify for every World Cup. It won't happen! Our team in 2006 was a very experienced one and we were expertly led by the brilliant and incomparable Leo Beenhakker."
"No disrespect to the squads of the last two WC campaigns but they weren't as talented as the 2006 squad or the 1990 squad. If Trinidad and Tobago could qualify for 1 in 3 World Cups we would have done very well."
"We must remember that our player pool isn't big enough to always challenge and beat the likes of Mexico, USA and Costa Rica. We can be competitive but beating them consistently is the challenge."
"The key to achieving this is by having a very good professional league. The Pro league must be run like a business and be community based. I think it's imperative for government to help financially in a big way. However, government should make it clear that each year their sponsorship will decrease."
"Pro league administrators and club officials must find ways of attracting sponsorship and fans. Their efforts thus far have been abysmal. Also, our players must train like professional footballers. They must work to improve their technique and tactical awareness. Become students of the game."
"I could remember waking up at 5am to train as a 14 year old with Stern John and another guy called Ainsley Noel. I wonder how many of these players today do that? Work, work, work, it's the only way to succeed."
"The Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation (TTFF), in partnership with the Ministry of Sport and Youth Affairs, need to develop programmes to identify and develop young players."
"The coaching and guidance these young players receive must be of a high standard. Are the local coaches good enough? I'm not so sure but there is certainly potential with the likes of Angus Eve, Derek King and of course we have Terry Fenwick."
"If the correct programmes are put in place we will begin to churn out better players. Organization and professionalism is the key to Trinidad and Tobago becoming competitive again."
"This can only be achieved by weeding out some of the incompetent useless people who run football in Trinidad and Tobago and replacing them with bright, honest, innovative people."
"The ongoing litigation between me and my twelve colleagues need to be sorted out as well. It will be difficult to move forward if the federation is still involved with the bonus dispute presently before the courts. What kind of federation treats its heroes the way we have been treated? ended Jack."
Brian Williams’ contribution.
"It's been a long while football in T&T needs some urgent and solid attention. We continue to make the same mistakes over and over. So let's take it in steps as you requested."
"These are some of my humble views."
"The governing body (TTFF) presently lacks the vision and enthusiasm to take our football forward. Blatantly, they must resign or be revamped. Structurally looking at our football internally I think these are some important points."
• All our football leagues and competitions must be administered under one umbrella.
• The Pro League / National League must take precedence over all leagues / competitions with a minimum of 10-12 teams.
• The present Super League must be the second division to the Pro League / National League, where promotion and demotion can take place to and from the Pro League.
• All other football should be played in its respective zones, with promotion and demotion to the Super League by the winners of the respective Zonal League Competition.
• Youth competition should be organised under a progressive structure together with the Colleges League to meet the requirements of national selection, etc.
The ProLeague/National League
The league is very important for us to maintain in T&T for many reasons:-
• It creates an industry for employment.
• It provides a professional environment for our football.
• It attracts foreign players and scouts to our country.
• It maintains a high standard and interest of football in T&T, etc.
"The league needs a solid sponsor and more support from corporate T&T for better marketing and public attendance."
"I think our coaches are very much competent in doing a good job given the right support. Obviously there is always room for improvement. Continued coaching courses are always important for further development."
"We can all attest that besides Mr. Leo Beenhakker most of our country's football success has been under local coaches.
"There are always very talented players with exceptional ability in this country, but I think they need to improve their responsibility towards the game and life in general. Again, given the right and controlled environment I think we can produce much better players in this country."
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