Back to the Future
The Trinidad and Tobago Football Association today wishes to confirm that Miss Carolina Morace and Miss Nicola Williams have terminated their contracts with the TTFA.
No further details will be given at this time since we are under advisement from our attorneys in this regard. The TTFA however wants to go on record and state that every attempt was made (without their cooperation) to resolve whatever issues that may have appeared in the opinion of Miss Morace and Miss Williams that contributed to their departure.
The TTFA remains committed to the its vision and continuation of the Women’s programme with a view of qualification to the FIFA Women’s World Cup in France 2019 along with the qualification of the Women’s Under 17 Team to the CONCACAF Under 17 Women’s Championship in 2018 and subsequently the next FIFA Under 17 Women’s World Cup in Colombia in 2019; and the Under 20 Women’s World Cup for which the Concacaf Final Round will be staged in Trinidad and Tobago in 2018.
To this end, consistent with the contract terms of his engagement with the TTFA (Head of Programmes) the Board of the Association has appointed Mr Jamaal Shabazz to oversee the Women’s programme with immediate effect and he will take charge of the Senior Women’s programme from tomorrow as well as the Under 20 Women’s programme. Mr Shabazz will also oversee the Under 17 Women’s programme with the assistance of coaches Joanne Daniel and Desiree Sergeant who were understudies to Miss Morace and Miss Williams.
The TTFA will appoint a full time head coach of the Under 17 Team immediately following the Caribbean First Round of qualifiers to be played in Trinidad in August.
Comments from Jamaal Shabazz
“It unbelievable that at this stage in my life I will be back in the women’s game. Together with the current senior team we gave our lives for this programme. The opportunity is there for us to complete a journey which we started together in 2000. We have a chance to continue to work hard for our country and ensure that this crop finishes their careers on a high note and that women’s football in our country reaches a milestone ”
Things to know about Jamaal Shabazz
From 1994 to 2010 he held various positions as Head of the TTFA’s Women’s Programme and coaches of the different national teams.
Together with Dr Iva Gloudon, Shabazz sent 35 female players on soccer scholarships in the United States, playing a key role in the development of players National Team players such as Tasha St Louis, Maylee Attin Johnson, Kennya Cordner and Ahkeela Mollon through the ranks of T&T National Teams.
Shabazz, age 53, played an integral role in establishing a development programme that produced most of the current Senior Women’s Team players when they were Under 15 players dating back to 2000.
He held the position as Head Coach of the Guyana Senior Men’s Team in three different stints including the 2014 World Cup campaign during which time he guided Guyana to victory over Trinidad and Tobago, eliminating T&T from the qualification race, while taking Guyana to the CONCACAF Semi-Final round.
Isa recommended Shabazz and Fevrier for coaching jobs; technical committee still non-functional.
By Lasana Liburd (Wired868).
Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) general secretary Justin Latapy-George has confirmed that the recent coaching appointments by the local body were made after recommendations from technical director Muhammad Isa and not the technical committee.
Yesterday, the TTFA announced that Jamaal Shabazz will replace Italian Carolina Morace as the head of the women’s programme and will also serve as head coach of the Women’s National Senior and Under-20 Team and oversee the Under-17 Team—although it subsequently emerged that he could end up with only the Women’s Senior and Under-20 Team jobs.
And, last month, Stuart Charles-Fevrier was appointed as head of the TTFA’s Elite Development Programme with Leonson Lewis and Clyde Leon as assistants.
Fevrier, Lewis and Leon are all current employees at W Connection—which is owned by TTFA president David John-Williams—while Shabazz helped campaign for the current local football president at the last TTFA and Caribbean Football Union (CFU) elections.
The recent hirings have caused consternation within the local football fraternity, with at least two coaches, including former National Under-20 coach Derek King, suggesting that they felt that at present non-Connection coaches were not given a fair chance to hold national portfolios .
King, the current North East Stars head coach, is the last national men’s coach to secure a regional title, having led the Under-20 Team to the 2014 Caribbean Championship crown.
Latapy-George explained that, at least in terms of the aforementioned positions, the recommendations came from the Isa-headed technical department. However, according to the general secretary, the TTFA Board of Directors have agreed on the members to make up a new technical committee and their names are expected to be announced soon.
The current TTFA board of directors comprises David John-Williams (president), Joanne Salazar, Ewing Davis and Allan Warner (vice-presidents), James Toussaint (Central FA), Sherwyn Dyer (Eastern Counties Football Union), Karanjabari Williams (Northern FA), Richard Quan Chan (Southern FA), Anthony Moore (Tobago FA), Joseph Taylor (Trinidad and Tobago Football Referees Association), Sharon O’Brien (Women’s League Football), Wayne Cunningham (Eastern FA) and Sam Phillip (TT Pro League).
Latapy-George declined comment on if and when the TTFA intended to respond to 42 questions from Veteran Footballers Foundation of Trinidad and Tobago (VFOTT) president Selby Browne on the current operations of the football body.
Ironically, the last technical committee collapsed after its recommendation that Fevrier replace Belgian Tom Saintfiet as Soca Warriors head coach was overruled. Instead, the Board opted to give the position to current coach Dennis Lawrence.
Then technical committee chairman Dexter Skeene, vice-chairman Dr Alvin Henderson and member Errol Lovell all resigned before Lawrence was unveiled.
Lawrence subsequently selected Fevrier as his assistant coach and, at present, the former St Lucia international holds three substantial portfolios as National Senior Team assistant coach, W Connection head coach and head of the Elite Youth Development Programme (which, it appears, is to operate as a National Under-13 Team).
Up until this weekend, Shabazz also held two major posts as Trinidad and Tobago National Youth Football Co-ordinator and Morvant Caledonia United head coach.
So far, Shabazz has suggested that he is almost certain to give up his role on the Elite Youth Development Programme although he expects to remain as Morvant Caledonia coach—once he is able to handle the two jobs.
I can provide stability! Shabazz reopens door to Maylee, Mollon and Cordner; but wants to keep Caledonia job
New Trinidad and Tobago Women’s National Senior Team and Under-20 Team head coach Jamaal Shabazz believes he is the right man to steady the ship as the Women Soca Warriors attempt to recover from the abrupt departure of Italian head coach Carolina Morace and her three assistants.
Morace and assistant Nicola Williams handed in their resignations last Friday and Morace, who has a law degree, told Wired868 that the most accurate description of what happened is to say that “the contract [is] terminated for just cause.”
The Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA), which is headed by president David John-Williams, is already bracing for legal action and the value of the part of the football body’s contract with the foreign coaches which is still unpaid is estimated at TT$4.3 million (US$648,000).
But even as the TTFA braces for a fresh lawsuit—and the local body is already dealing with at least a half-dozen cases—the Women Warriors still have a programme to maintain and three World Cup qualifying campaigns to contest at Senior, Under-20 and Under-17 level.
Shabazz, a former Trinidad and Tobago Women’s Senior Team coach as well as head coach for the Trinidad and Tobago and Guyana Men’s National Teams, backs himself to make a success of the current challenge.
“I think the programme right now needs some stability and, given what they have asked of me, I can provide stability,” Shabazz told Wired868. “Most of these girls I know as kids and saw them grow into womanhood. I have great respect for them and I think there is mutual respect.”
Shabazz spent his first day on the job by erasing one of the more controversial aspects of Morace’s tenure—the suspension of former captain Maylee Attin-Johnson and star attacker Kennya “Yaya” Cordner and the self-imposed exile of ex-Europe-based winger Ahkeela Mollon.
Morace said Attin-Johnson and Cordner were both suspended for violating team rules; Shabazz will overturn that decision.
“Today, I am going to meet with Ahkeela Mollon and Maylee Attin-Johnson and talk to Kennya Cordner on Skype to see how we can mend some broken fences,” said Shabazz, who claimed he had previously kept his distance from the issue. “There were players on the Under-20 Team and the Senior Team who are not in the programme right now and I intend to meet with everybody, hear everybody and try to start with a clean slate.”
Ironically, Shabazz took credit for the TTFA’s decision to hire Morace in the first place although he admitted that their relationship soured during her time in Trinidad.
“I was the person that took her resume to David John-Williams—myself and [team manager] Jinelle James—as co-ordinator of programmes for the TTFA at the time,” said Shabazz. “I felt the women’s programme needed a high-profile female with a high level of competency. [But] at some point in time, I fell out of favour with her.
“I have the utmost respect for her and the work she tried to put in in the last six months. […] I have nothing bad to say for her and I tried to keep out of her way because I understood how she wanted to deal with matters.”
Shabazz withdrew from the women’s programme in 2011 and said then the team needed fresh ideas. And he repeatedly insisted that he was not interested in a coaching position under the current football administration.
So what has changed?
The Morvant Caledonia United head coach said his time on the bench in the Pro League this season stirred his competitive juices while the resources provided for the women’s programme under Morace also caught his attention.
“Given the resources that I know were made available to the last technical staff, I am confident we can do this,” said Shabazz. “Because this bunch of girls used to sleep on the ground in the Larry Gomes Stadium when we had double sessions [and] they never got friendly matches and contracts and stipends.
“With all these things in play, I think the onus is now on us to step up to the plate and give it our best possible shot.”
Shabazz said he intends to copy the structure of the coaching set-up under Morace and currently used by men’s coach Dennis Lawrence, which, he suggested, makes better use of assistant coaches than has always been the case at local level.
“We are going to demonstrate, based on the example of Dennis Lawrence and his staff, that men and women can work together for the benefit of the programme,” said Shabazz, “because we see the master come here with an entourage and they operate under leadership and loyalty. I have been a slave for many, many centuries and now I have become a free man, I understand how to make it work; I feel even better than the master.
“When you look at how Ms Morace ran it, […] I feel we can replicate that working together and try to get the results.”
Shabazz admitted that he had a personal relationship with the current TTFA president but dismissed any suggestion of favouritism, insistingd that his CV spoke for itself.
“If a man or woman could look at my track record and think [that my appointment] is a (case of a) job for the boys, then I think that there is nothing I can do or say in my own defence,” said Shabazz. “[…] Yes, I supported John-Williams in the [TTFA] elections and I ask the question: did I commit a sin? Who did Keith Look Loy support in the election? Who did other people support?
“Election is one facet of the football dynamics [and right now] I am concerned with what happens on the field.”
Then Guyana National Senior Team coach Jamaal Shabazz is at his side in full TTFA gear.
At present, Shabazz holds an armful of jobs as, apart from being coach of two national women’s teams, he is also the TTFA Youth Football Co-ordinator and Morvant Caledonia United head coach.
He suggested he was likely to give up the Youth Football Coordinator post but would continue to run the Morvant Caledonia team.
“In terms of Morvant Caledonia, I see no conflict there at all,” Shabazz told Wired868. “It has always been a mentoring with [assistant coach] Abdallah Phillips and that will continue… I did those jobs and more when some of my critics were in charge of the technical aspect of Trinidad and Tobago’s football. But I do not know if it was because Jack Warner was in charge [but] not a dog barked then.”
Shabazz tried to explain how the responsibilities of the Elite Development Programme, which is funded to the tune of TT$8 million by NLCB, are shared between technical director Muhammad Isa, National Senior Team assistant coach and W Connection head coach Stuart Charles-Février and himself.
It means that instead of the TTFA hiring one person to oversee the programme, they have hired several persons who juggle duties between the Elite Youth Programme and other jobs within the football body or at their respective clubs.
Charles-Février and his assistant coaches Leonson Lewis and Clyde Leon are all employees at the W Connection football club, which is owned by John-Williams.
Shabazz insisted that the managerial structure of the Elite programme was a practical one.
“Stuart Charles was selected by the Board to be the head coach,” said Shabazz. “My role was to supervise the programme and make sure the zones were training and so on. I work alongside Isa, who focuses more on grassroots and coach education and supervising the national teams in training.
“The Elite Programme was a specific programme that needed specific attention… [With] the magnitude of the work, I think having more coaches is better rather than less.”
For the immediate future, Shabazz will juggle his time between two national teams and his Pro League outfit. But he is confident about what he can bring to the Women Warriors and is anxious to resume professional relations with the likes of Tasha St Louis, Karyn Forbes, Dernelle Mascall and Attin-Johnson, whom he credited for their exceptional understanding of the game.
“What is needed is someone who can come in and get these girls working again and focusing on football and giving of their best for the country,” said Shabazz, “and I am not just talking about players but staff too. There are three things we need to juggle here: individual needs, needs of the group and the mission and what it requires.
“We need to be able to juggle the three. I feel with the little I know about management and the Senior Women’s team, I am very confident that we can do this.”