Wed, Jul


Akeem’s improving; but financial donations remain slowTwenty-two year old former Trinidad and Tobago defender Akeem Adams is said to be improving slowly but surely at the Varosmajori Heart Clinic in Budapest, Hungary although the ex-Presentation College (San Fernando) student remains in ICU.

A source close to the family informed Wired868 that Adams’ condition is stabilising. The former two-time World Youth Cup player is in urgent need of a heart transplant after suffering a massive heart attack last month, hours after training with his top flight Hungarian football team, Ferencvarosi.

However, Adams still is not strong enough for the urgent operation.

His circulation is said to be better, though, and the Varosmajori Clinic’s medical staff is hopeful that he will continue to improve.

“He is stabilising and getting stronger and stronger,” said the source. “The doctors are hoping that the progress will continue. Since the (amputation) the blood is flowing better and he is getting stronger…

“After something like what he went through, you don’t just go from zero to hundred. But maybe he is 20 percent better in the last month or so in terms of his vital signs and so on.”

Adams’ left leg was amputated on October 8 after circulatory problems prompted an emergency operation.

His mother, Ancilla, and brother, Akini, are both at his side in Budapest as he fights for his life. Ancilla has taken leave from her job as a domestic worker to comfort her son while Akini is a goalkeeper with local Pro League team, Point Fortin Civic.

At present, Akini is training with Ferencvarosi to maintain his match fitness.

Presentation College principal Dexter Mitchell offered Ancilla an unspecified financial donation before she left Trinidad, which has helped offset bills like groceries and toiletries.

Football fans’ website, Soca Warriors Online (SWO), has also collected just over $12,000, which should be presented to Adams’ agent, Dion Sosa, this week.

The SWO contributors, according to site leader Inshan “Flex” Mohammed, are: Robert Engelmann, Varga Varga, Attila Plesko, Ryan Lalsingh, Peter DeCoteau, Linly Prince, Ernesto Waines, Marlon Mejias, Richard Wilson, Patricia Smart, Marlon Smith, Inshan “Flex” Mohammed, Susan Brown, Nick Fuller, VB, Omar, Nigel Scott, Denzil Streete, Lester Alexander, Peter Khan, Daryl Brereton, Christian Khabay, Sigmund Williams, Roland Gabriel, Emilie Vernon Backström, Anthony Valley and Nigel Myers.

Local football club DIRECTV W Connection also instructed the Pro League executive to give its $10,000 Digicel Charity Shield winnings to Adams, almost two weeks ago, although the money has still not changed hands.

A Pro League source admitted that the Digicel Charity Shield money was there and Connection had instructed the governing body to make the payment. However, the Pro League does not yet have the necessary details to make the transfer although it expects to complete the transaction shortly.

The family has not received any word yet from the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) about proceeds from its international friendly against New Zealand at the Hasely Crawford Stadium on Tuesday October 15.

TTFA president Raymond Tim Kee and general secretary Sheldon Phillips created an “Akeem Adams section” for the game and $50 from each $125 ticket sold was supposed to go to the ailing footballer’s family along with the full earnings from “Support Akeem Adams” tee-shirts sold by Native Spirits.

The source explained that Tim Kee and Phillips had promised to meet with Adams’ family and representatives on October 18 but this was postponed as both administrators had to attend a CONCACAF congress in the Cayman Islands. There has supposedly been no update since.

The TTFA has not yet revealed an official attendance for the New Zealand game, the number of tickets sold for the Akeem Adams section or the money raised from the sale of Native Spirit tee-shirts.

TTFA press officer Shaun Fuentes said that the CONCACAF engagements of its top executives had slowed down the process and that more information should be available this week.

“We are hoping to finalise details this week as Phillips and Tim Kee were out of the country until last weekend,” Fuentes told Wired868. “We are still waiting for a figure on shirt sales from Native Spirit as well as other contributions before we can present a final figure… We might be able to give some more information after lunch today.”

Fuentes also addressed complaints by supporters who bought tickets for the Akeem Adams section but had problems accessing the area while bathrooms in the Hasely Crawford Stadium’s uncovered stands were locked.

“The bathrooms were the responsibility of the stadium management but we will still ensure these matters are ironed out for the next event,” said Fuentes. “Initially the Adams section was not properly roped off and that presented a challenge as most of the early patrons (in the uncovered stands) were able to access that central point…

“We heard of the few complaints but, while there were patrons who were hoping to be in a separate section to the rest of the uncovered section, the majority appeared pleased to have made their contribution towards the fund.”

Meanwhile, the players’ family is receiving legal assistance to set up an Akeem Adams Trust Fund, which is meant to bring order to the spate of charitable efforts set up in recent weeks to raise money for the player.

“We want to bring coordination and transparency to all the various charitable events behind held,” said Sosa. “The public would want know that they can trust that the monies raised are going where they are supposed to go and the family wants to authorise the things being done in Akeem’s name.

“So we are looking to set up a board of trustees which will include his mom and brother and uncle and an independent party. That way when corporate T&T and anyone else donate, there will be transparency and documentation with regards to what comes in and goes out.”

At present, well-wishers can donate money directly to the family at any RBC branch by making a deposit for Ancilla Dick-Adams at account number #100085172658914.


Show us the money: TTFA asks Native Spirit for breakdown of Akeem venture
By Lasana Liburd (Wire868)

The Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) and the Native Spirit clothing company both pointed towards each other today as Wired868 sought further information on money raised from the sale of “I Support Akeem” tee-shirts.

The $100 tee-shirts, which sold out last month, were designed to raise funds for former two-time World Youth Cup defender Akeem Adams who suffered a massive heart attack in late September and is awaiting a heart transplant in Hungary.

The TTFA told the public that proceeds from the sale of the tee-shirts would go to the 22-year-old footballer, who is in ICU at the Vasmajori Heart Clinic in Budapest.

However, last night, TTFA press officer Shaun Fuentes told i95.5 FM radio host Andre Baptiste that only $25 from each shirt would go to Adams, which prompted an immediate and angry response from members of the public.

Native Spirit and the TTFA both told Wired868 that it was a misunderstanding and the public was not willfully misled.

TTFA general secretary Sheldon Phillips insisted there was never any hint that the local football body or Native Spirit would underwrite the production costs of the tee-shirts. So, he said the public should have understood that full proceeds would not go to the young player.

“I don’t think any reasonable person would think there wasn’t a cost attached (to producing the tee-shirts),” Phillips told Wired868. “There are always going to be inherent costs… We want the public to understand that it was never our intention to generate any additional funding.”

Funetes also told I95.5 FM that the TTFA never claimed that all proceeds from the “I Support Akeem” tee-shirts would go to Adams.

However, a copy of the TTFA press release clearly contradicted their claims. On October 6, a release, issued by Fuentes, informed the public that “all proceeds” would go to Adams.

Native Spirit managing director Bruce Kaufman stressed that, for his part, it was an innocent mix-up.

“It is unfortunate that the information (about the $25) got clouded over,” said Kaufman. “This was for a very good cause and it was a positive thing that the country really showed a lot of support, which was nice to see.”

But should the public have been told how much of their $100 purchase would go to Adams?

Kaufman said the TTFA always knew that it would only receive $25 per tee-shirt and it was the football body’s responsibility to inform the public.

“We were not responsible for any PR,” said Kaufman. “Protocol dictates that all information should come from the TTFA.”

But Phillips claimed he did not know how much money would go to Adams when the TTFA asked members of the public to purchase the tee-shirts in a press conference on October 3. He said the local football body found out later on.

“Once the shirts were being manufactured, we found out how much it would be,” said Phillips.

The first tee-shirt was printed on October 7, four days after the TTFA press conference.

But Kaufman countered that Native Spirit was open about the fact that only $25 would go to Adams, long before the company started printing. He told Wired868 that a company representative released that information on Facebook on October 4.

However, Kaufman said that the information was put on the employee’s personal page and not on Native Spirit’s official Facebook page. So, the clothing company did not directly advise its purchasers.

Fuentes, the TTFA press officer, said he followed instructions at all times and was unaware of the specifics of the charitable venture, even after Phillips found out about the $25 figure from Native Spirit. So, Fuentes said that could not have given the public any further information.

“The information was disseminated (to the public) based on the information that came to me,” said Fuentes. “I was never instructed to send out a press release that only $25 was going to the fund. And, in fact, I only found out that this week.”

Phillips suggested that the TTFA was busy getting ready for the friendly against New Zealand and had left the “I Support Akeem” venture to Native Spirit.

“Should we have gone out and put out another press release (about the $25)?” asked Phillips, rhetorically. “Perhaps. But we were in the middle of putting on a game and a lot of our focus was on the match itself.

“It became a Native Spirit production from then on… We lent them our logo and they designed and produced the shirt and then passed on the proceeds to us. We had nothing at all to do with the actual production of the shirt.”

And where did the remaining $75 go?

Kaufman said it was up to the TTFA to provide further details of the “I Support Akeem” venture to the public.

“The TTFA is our client so they should be the ones telling you,” said Kaufman.

But Phillips said the TTFA does not know any more than it has revealed already and is still waiting for further details from Native Spirit.

He insisted that the financial details would be forwarded to the public as soon as he receives them and suggested that, rather than the lack of relevant information, was the crux of the matter.

“The bottom line issue is getting the public to see the cost breakdown because it definitely wasn’t a profit making venture for the TTFA,” said Phillips. “Once those costs are explained, the answer to a lot of people’s questions will come out… Native Spirit has to provide the cost breakdown, including VAT, to show where that $100 went.”

Both parties insisted that the problem was a glitch in communication rather than dishonesty.

“We were very happy to be part of the ‘Heart of a Warrior Foundation’ and we would like to continue to be,” said Kaufman. “I would like to make sure the message is kept in a positive light because it is for a good cause. And it is still going for a good cause.”

Phillips also stressed that the TTFA is working hard to cleanse itself of an unsavoury reputation earned during the era of former special advisor and ex-FIFA vice president Jack Warner.

“We want the public to understand that it was never our intention to generate any additional funding,” he said. “We will continue to take part initiatives to support Akeem; this wasn’t  a one-off…

“We are very concerned about being accountable.”

Phillips explained that CONCACAF and FIFA obligations by himself and TTFA president Raymond Tim Kee had also delayed the football body’s post-mortem of the New Zealand affair. Tim Kee, an insurance executive, also successful ran for a Port of Spain alderman position for the PNM at the local government elections and is tipped to be the city’s new mayor.

“In the future, barring any other scheduling issues, the attendances for matches would be reported a bit sooner than the New Zealand game,” said Phillips.

Neither the TTFA nor Native Spirit has so far provided a date for when further details on the “I Support Akeem” initiative will be made public.

Together, the TTFA and Native Spirit raised approximately $255,750 in the player’s name through the “I Support Akeem” tee-shirts and the “Akeem Adams section” at the New Zealand match; just $72,300 of that money will go to Adams.

Well-wishers who want to donate money directly to the player can do so by walking into any RBC branch and depositing money for Ancilla Dick at account number #100085172658914.