COMMISSIONER of Police Gary Griffith said he does not have a position with the T&T men's football team, explaining that he has been around the team because of his passion for sport.
Since the middle of last year the national footballers have trained at the St James Police Barracks in St James under head coach Terry Fenwick. Griffith has been seen regularly at national team training sessions. His son Gary Griffith III is part of the national team set-up.
On Friday, Griffith facilitated a relaxed afternoon at his residence at the Barracks where the players had a meal. Speaking to the media, Griffith made it clear that he is not benefiting financially from his interest in the team.
"I have never received a cent from TTFA, I don't need a cent. The same way when I accepted the position as Commissioner of Police. The state cannot afford my qualifications, knowledge and expertise in the field."
Griffith, who said it is not a job, added, "I am doing it just for the love for the sport, but there is a lot that I have done...sometimes players don't even have funds to get to training, sometimes they don't have a meal, so I do try my best to see how best I can help, but I have never received a cent and I have never asked for one."
Griffith, who believes that the TT Football Association can't afford to pay normalisation committee chairman Robert Hadad, added, "There are persons that are doing this for the love of the sport and that's why I am asking more persons to step forward and see what they can do to help the team rather than just to criticise."
Griffith said when this country is on the verge of qualifying for the World Cup, the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Mucurapo would be packed, but when T&T are not in contention only a sprinkle of fans show up.
A report circulated on Friday that there is turmoil within the camp. The report said some players have issues leading up to the team's 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifier against Guyana in Dominican Republic on March 25. Among the concerns are that there is no clear laid out structure of play for the team and the local players are being disrespected. Players Duane Muckette and Alvin Jones denied disunity in the camp, saying they are focused on the qualifier.
Griffith said, "No one is perfect, but what is not accepted is to give the perception that there is some disunity here with the national team."
Griffith: Soca Warriors more unified than ever—despite empty promises from normalisation committee.
“[…] I have been closely involved in the national teams for several years, inclusive of this one, and this present team is as closely knit as one can get.
“[…] Now is not a time for division, finger-pointing, and disunity, and it is hoped that those in authority should in fact be dealing with the real issues facing this national team—inclusive of them continuing to complain about empty promises from the normalisation committee [and their] inability to secure friendly international games, and [the] lack of support in providing what is required in this campaign…”
The following Letter to the Editor, which rebuts reports of disunity within the Trinidad and Tobago Men’s National Senior Team and doubts about the competence of head coach Terry Fenwick, was submitted to Wired868 by Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith:
In the last decade, I have worked closely with TTFA heads from Raymond Tim Kee, to David John-Williams to William Wallace to Robert Hadad in different roles—from being the security advisor to even dealing with conflict resolutions when the team did not want to travel to international tournaments due to off-the-field issues.
Differences in opinion and conflicts would always take place in sport, but in all my years in sports administration—even being a past sport vice-president, secretary, and manager of national teams—have I ever seen such sabotage, indiscipline, and ignorance by some inside and outside of a national team, as I have seen by a few responsible for the administration of this present National Senior football team.
The recent article by Walter Alibey in the Guardian reeks of a deliberate attempt by some to undermine the World Cup preparation by deliberately causing division and disunity.
To begin with, I strongly question the authenticity of this report, as I have been closely involved in the national teams for several years, inclusive of this one, and this present team is as closely knit as one can get. So the usual song and dance that some reporters would throw about having ‘an anonymous source’—but bringing no names, no quotes and no facts—is as shallow as one can get.
What this has done, however, is cause severe concerns by many players and technical staff, as they are wondering who is the ‘trojan horse’ that would be so irresponsible to air dirty linen of a national squad in training.
This does nothing other than to cause a breakdown in morale, teamwork and trust amongst players. Or was this the intention?
If it was, let it be known that this plot has failed miserably, as what it would do is further strengthen the bond and determination needed for this team to succeed.
The article reeks of loopholes, and [the issues] are as follows:
No national player worth their salt would do this, because there is absolutely [nothing to] gain [and no way] to rectify the situation by running to the media like a spoilt brat to complain. The only value of doing this was to deliberately cause division and confusion; and if such individuals do exist in a national team to cause such negativity and bad publicity, then they should not even be on a fete match squad.
In fact, the senior players of the team, both at home and abroad, are livid as to the petty and immature behaviour of a few who may have done this—if any did in the first place, as this is still to be confirmed.
The accusation made about assistant coach Derek King being sidelined and bypassed also lacks merit. I have spoken to Mr King who likewise is very upset that his name has been mentioned in this clandestine plot to affect the team’s preparation, as he has stated that he never spoke to any player and has never seen himself being sidelined in any form or fashion.
Imagine a daily newspaper is taking a quote from an ‘alleged player’ stating that an assistant coach would be replaced by another. So, all of a sudden, a player has inside knowledge of technical staff selection, which by the way can only be done by the normalisation committee and not the technical staff.
So is Walter Alibey claiming that players attend board room meetings with the normalisation committee to know this? Point being that this was false and deliberately misleading to cause division among the technical staff.
The ludicrous statement involves alleged players voicing their concern about the present coaching techniques. I cannot recall one local-based player on this national team with certified coaching training, yet the Guardian decides to quote a player voicing his concern about football coaching, with absolutely no coaching qualification.
Now is not a time for division, finger-pointing, and disunity, and it is hoped that those in authority should in fact be dealing with the real issues facing this national team—inclusive of them continuing to complain about empty promises from the normalisation committee [and their] inability to secure friendly international games, and [the] lack of support in providing what is required in this campaign.
There is even the growing perception by many players that Beach Football is now taking precedence in being given all that they require, including a foreign coach being reassigned to Trinidad and Tobago with their family, whilst every simple request made by the National Senior Football team is ignored.
Could you imagine what the men on this national football team must feel like, being continually surrounded in drama, scandal, bacchanal—none of which is of their own making?
All they want to do is play football and represent their country at the highest level. This team is quite rightfully demanded to excel and produce results. How on earth can this become a reality when they are not provided with the most basic requirements to do so; and, to make matters worse, have their chances scuttled at every turn by persons with ulterior motives?
These are the real concerns of the players and not the trumped-up wild accusations made by a media report via ‘anonymous sources’.
The media is invited to meet the National Team this afternoon to verify all that is stated above.