Wed, Apr


Former Trinidad and Tobago national football team captain and Caribbean MVP, David Nakhid, writes an open letter to TTFA/TTFF personnel past and present, Everald “Gally” Cummings, Anton Corneal, Raymond Tim Kee and Sheldon Phillip.


Full disclosure: There is only one member of the former TTFF regime whose hand I used to shake without immediately pouring myself a generous helping of sanitizer or heading off, if the situation allowed it, to the washroom sink. That man was Raymond Tim Kee.

As for the other actors or by-standers in the now sadly familiar scenario, I consider them genuine colleagues with Anton Corneal being a childhood friend.

Turned off by public apathy, I had sworn that never again would I touch certain matters pertaining to football in Trinidad and Tobago. But when you, Raymond, produced your best Jack Warner impression by declaring that you could not pay the outstanding salaries of the ones who have already served their tenure with monies sourced from the private sector, I did a double take.

And when you added insult to injury by stating that, upon their arrival, you propose to fund the newly appointed coaches’ salaries from the same source, I told myself, like the calypsonians, that yuh trying to force mih hand and so ah put on mih guns again.

Let’s be clear from the start, Raymond, Sheldon and Anton: as president, general secretary and technical director respectively, I do not dispute that, together, you have the authority to hire and fire whomever you want whenever you want, in the full knowledge that John Public will judge you on the basis of your decisions and either laud or criticize you.

You do not, however, have the right to be duplicitous in your behaviour and your utterances towards the staff who served under you. In other words, before you cavalierly embrace the new coaches you deem it necessary to hire at this point, you have a damned responsibility to pay the ones who have already served their money.

I am, of course, taking you at your word, Raymond, and assuming that you genuinely want to turn a new leaf and not continue the crooked and corrupt legacy of your self-serving predecessors. Why would you want to humiliate Hutson (Charles) and Jamal (Shabazz) by requiring them to be interviewed for staff jobs?

If either one agrees to this, then, in my opinion, he deserves to be fired!

But did you, Sheldon, really think this one through? If Mr Beenhakker, then why not “Gally” (Everald Cummings)? Let me explain.

As coaches, both men are way, way past their sell-by dates and their only current claim to fame is popularity with the T&T footballing public; one can understand why. Like Moses, one of them took us close to the mountain top and showed us a glimpse of what our potential could bring. Like Joshua, the other led us all the way to the Promise Land but there was not any milk and honey there, not in footballing terms anyway.

That success, Sheldon, was an isolated event in “Joshua’s” last 20 years; since then, his footballing ideas—or lack of them—have earned him the distinction of being declared persona non grata in several countries and clubs. The truth is that the game has moved well past Don Leo and left him standing.

As a motivator, he is easily the best I have seen. That is the main reason why I recommended him to (former national team manager) Richard Brathwaite and Jack Warner since 1994. But there was no shortage of footballing talent on the national scene then; sadly, it is no longer that way.

So that to hire “the Don” at a time when a serious effort is needed in youth development is, well, almost laughable; you might just as well go with the far less expensive Gally.

Let me then quickly remind you, Sheldon, that, despite his many, oft-repeated protestations to the contrary, Gally was mainly responsible for T&T’s not getting to Italy. He was the coach and that, as we say in football, is the end line. He, however, continues to talk as if, under his tenure, a new type of football was invented, not to mention his outlandish boast about fostering national unity.

It’s hard to say which of these two is more laughable.

Gally, you were one of my earliest footballing heroes. Unfortunately for us both, I grew up and came to get first-hand experience of your “coaching” and your decisions as a coach. Let me say without rancour and with profound sadness, you simply are not a national team coach at any level.

I must here concede that, although Warner did it for all the wrong reasons, his decision to remove you as national coach and then keep you sidelined was probably the only good footballing decision made by the then TTFA Secretary.

Because, Gally, missing out on a World Cup even if by a single point will never be “success,” no matter how you have embellished the story as the years rolled on. Here’s a detail that you have conveniently omitted which I think the country needs to be reminded of: with the help of Warner and a few others, you sidelined a player whose only sin was to question your tactics, tactics which were, as November 19 amply demonstrated, eminently questionable.

While you and Warner told all and sundry what a bad player—and person—I was, at the peak of my career in Europe, I was blacklisted nationally for all of five years. The evidence of my career as a national team player from the mid-nineties made you eat your words, so tell me, on what basis have you been arguing for your return?

Finally, Sheldon, let me advise you to avoid populist decisions that lack vision. Consult. You and I both know that you have access to a veritable footballing think-tank. You know of whom I speak, the (Iain) Bains, the (Alvin) Hendersons, the (Ken) Butchers et al.

Did you discuss these latest appointments with them or did you just speak to Anton and dad (Lincoln “Tiger” Phillips)? I repeat, the decision was yours to make but what about the context? What about, for instance, the emphasis that your dad (one of my football mentors) placed on coaching development while he served (albeit with tied hands) as technical director? Has that gone out the window?

Now to end with you, Anton. What is your position on the appointment of the two new coaches? Stop hiding behind the other two and tell us:  Were you part of that decision-making disaster to have dual coaches in Jamaal and Hutson? And do you think that you have a lot to learn from the Dutchman? You do?

Well, brother, I have news for you. If, after all these years and now as technical director, you have not formed your own coaching identity and your own philosophy about this beautiful game is not yet clear inside your head and in your soul, something is wrong.

If you don’t yet feel you have the strength to tell whomever that this is not the right way forward in our football development, then something may be wrong with me.

But, truth be told, I think I’m okay.

Your brother in football,