T&T’s football is at a critical stage and unless we take some important steps, there will be severe consequences. As is normal, everyone is concentrating on the national senior team’s efforts in the final round qualifiers for Russia 2018.
Therefore, focus is on the next two matches against Guatemala at home on September 2, and the USA four days later in the United States.
However, do not get caught up in all the hype!
While we must acknowledge that winning those matches is important, and qualifying for our second World Cup will be wonderful, there is a lot more than meets the eye.
Recently I had the pleasure, thanks to Wayne Manderville, of conducting two interviews, one on radio and one on television with the Russell ‘Little Magician’ Latapy, which were quite inspirational. To listen to Latapy’s vision and his thoughts were both inspiring and at the same time defining of a man who wants to, and can still contribute to this country.
Latapy has a number of positives going for him, not least the fact that the population feel a tremendous debt of gratitude towards him for his outstanding achievements and performances over the last 35 years, from a teenager to his days as coach.
Let’s face it, T&T’s development plan is non-existent. The Football Association will say differently but the harsh reality is that there are no cognitive signs in any of the programmes in football, whether at the youth or any level for that matter.
I believe the David John Williams team can win some positive attention amidst a number of questionable scenarios. I am urging him to appoint Latapy to oversee a programme for our youth, which could include some oversight on coaching standards, something that is badly needed in T&T.
I understand that a technical director has already been announced but that matters not to me, as we need Latapy. Many of our youths know of his prowess through their parents, uncles or aunts, or through social media and therefore have a healthy respect and admiration for him, which suggests that he will have their full attention.
Today’s youth ask more questions, are more inquisitive and do not easily accept every answer. Whether or not it is the advent of the internet, and social media through the various endearing platforms, we have to come to terms and understand that they are different. A case in point is at the recent Premier League 50 overs cricket final at Balmain, Couva. During the waterbreak, an elderly gentleman walked onto the field with a plastic cooler with drinks.
This is absolutely absurd and sends both the wrong message to our youths, not to mention the administration of cricket. This is the Grand Finals, being broadcast live on television and streamed all over the world. But if nobody in administration cares about the image of the sports, how can we expect the youths to be any different. After all, we ask them to follow our example.
The reality is that Latapy can assist, particularly with the basics. We all acknowledge how some of our so called better players struggle with the basics, whether it be control and touch, which are imperatives from a defender, midfielder or forward. Every weekend, we witness youngsters being addressed by coaches, yet still no one is aware of the quality of such. A few years ago, Lincoln “Tiger” Phillips attempted to put such in place, with grading and measurement of the quality. I would not be surprised if all of this has gone to wasted.
John Williams must know that while his team was given a strong vote of confidence, it does not take much for all of this to change and for people to begin to cast doubts on his administration. It must not be that they are riding on the success of the men’s senior team.
Minister of Sports and Youth Affairs Daryl Smith has promised to support youths, so it is time for the TTFA to test the water and ensure that our future is not only enhanced, but also secured.
Appointing Latapy would be a great step in the right direction.