Wed, Jul


The world revolves around money. So why should sports be any different? In cricket, the best West Indies players are apparently willing to give up their Test careers for the sake of the money in the Indian Premier League Twenty/20 Championships.

So why should we blame the T&T footballers for not being interested in playing for their country, when match after match they are not being paid? Honestly, how many of us, would go to work everyday and accept at the end of the month that the boss tells you, your cheque will come later. I can think of a few persons that will be jumping all over their boss at that remark, and many are not only in sports but work in the media. And that is why we need to place everything in perspective over the performance of the national football team in Martinique during the Digicel Cup where we lost two matches and won one. If the players were told they would be paid at the end of the tournament, then they have no excuses, but if they were promised something before the tournament ended, then someone needs to be held accountable.

As for coach Russell Latapy, he should only be held accountable if he knew the players were not being paid and he did nothing about it in terms of trying to motivate the players. Of course, it would not have assisted Latapy’s cause if he was being paid while the players got nothing, especially if the players found out about this. Any coach needs to have a special bond with his players; he needs to show the care and love for his team that he would have respected as a player. When, I looked at how the Jamaican team ran to their coach Theodore Whitmore and lifted him after the victory on Sunday, you sense this man had the full support of his players and they would give their life on the field for him. In looking at the T&T team, you don’t ever see that kind of connection between Latapy and his players. Jamaica sportscaster Simon Crosskill while discussing the Jamaicans on Isports on i95.5fm last Saturday, said he believed the Jamaican Federation was not fully behind Whitmore but he was getting results and therefore neither the public nor the Federation could say or do anything at the moment.

logoSimilarly in T&T, many of us believed from the onset the Federation was only utilising Latapy in a stop gap mode until it found the time to be interested in the sport again after the Fifa Under 17 World Cup. Now that he is losing, they can easily justify his dismissal, again using the ever familiar saying that another local coach was tried and failed. To many, this possible demise of Latapy was a set-up that Latapy allowed. Should we blame him for that? Here is a man who loves his country and wanted to be involved in its success. Perhaps as demonstrated during his tenure, his defensive frailties as a player are borne out in the weakness in defence of his coached team to date. On Saturday on Isports, Minister of Sports and Youth Affairs, Anil Roberts, called and stated that the players cannot use money as an excuse for their performance, as he personally spoke to the players before they left for Martinique and assured them they would get their payments. So this should not affect how they performed.

If we believe the Minister, What then was the reason for this poor performance? And this is where I am forced to agree with Simon Crosskill’s theory that a captain or coach is only as good as the team. We can look at Brian Charles Lara as West Indies captain. Several of the players were not motivated during his time. This would suggest they did not buy into the captain’s plan. Is it fair to say that several members of Latapy’s team do not believe in Latapy and do not support his tactics. They do not support his overall behaviour with the team and really want him out as coach. These are hard but necessary questions. It was clear to all but the visually impaired that the T&T players lacked cohesion and self belief. If it was intentional, it was misguided and may have eroded any chance some of these players had to ever play for T&T again. If some of the players were either unfit or injured and Latapy ignored their pleas and that of their Pro League coaches, then he will have to accept responsibility for what happened.

All of this is rather unfortunate because from the Minister of Sports to the Fifa Vice President to several local coaches, former players and others involved in football, there was a sense that they wanted Latapy to fail. Everyone, it seems, forgot that his failure would mean that T&T’s football would fail. In the final analysis, it is interesting to draw the parallel that Lara has realised that his people (West Indies Cricket Board and players) do not want him and is seeking work overseas. It is the same for former West Indies player Augustine Logie who has accepted an offer from Jamaica to coach their cricket team for a short while (four months), while T&T said nothing. Don’t be surprised therefore to hear that Latapy is seeking employment outside T&T, where he might be better appreciated. For certain, Latapy might earn more money elsewhere and be paid on time, although like Lara and Logie, we all know where their heart would rather be if circumstances were different. So what is next for our footballing future? We might well see a return for Everald “Gally” Cummings or Stuart Charles Fevier. They might be given the opportunity to prove that a local coach can succeed.