The T&T Football Association (TTFA), led by its president David John-Williams, took representatives from several local sporting organisations and members of the media on a tour of the almost completed and controversial three new facilities that comprise the Home of Football at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Balmain, Couva, yesterday.
John-Williams, along with his vice president Ewing Davis and board members Wayne Cunningham, Julia Baptiste and the sport's general secretary Justin Latapy-George, showed off its 72-Room Hotel, (a Three-story building) the Income Generating Project Building (a sports bar and Entertainment Centre) and a facility building which is 6000 sq feet and will compriuse (2 dressings rooms, a Kitchen, 2 youth dorms (male and female), dining room for the youths, laundry and two coaches quarters). He said all the buildings are 90 per cent completed.
Among the touring party were Patricia and Kenneth Butcher (netball), Dudnath Ramkissoon (cricket), Robert Farrier (cycling), Wendell Lia Hing (swimming) and Andy Gomez-Burk of gymnastics.
John-Williams told guests about the engineering of the building and explained the ICF technology that is being used in the construction.
He boasted about the energy usage and the type of air-condition system which will be installed upon completion.
He said, "This building (referring to the hotel) is earthquake proof." He showed them the material being used in the construction, the varying sizes of rooms for athletes and head of delegations and a dormitory for youths which, he said, can house up to 70 youths.
Asked by Lia Hing when the facilities will be ready he responded: "All construction work will be completed by November 30, 2018, and then we will focus on outfitting the buildings for use and business in the New Year."
He even jokingly threw out a challenge of a bet when questioned by two of his guests about the completion date. He said, "Let's take a bet nah".
Farrier said the facility is world class and these are the kind of facilities which will help cycling in its future plans and programmes and for when teams visit T&T.
He said, "I just returned from Switzerland where I saw similar facilities. Football is on the right track and my sport can benefit from this. I'm really impressed and like what I am seeing here today. "
Everyone expressed shocked about the facilities and even its engineering and design and the thought that went into the vision for the facilities which will also have six practice fields.
Ramkissoon, who represented the T&T Cricket Board, said, "It's really impressive. All sporting organisations can now benefit from all that they have on offer here. This is truly a tremendous effort and this facility will benefit sports in T&T. Couva is becoming the centre for sports in T&T with cycling, swimming, the cricket centre, the Ato Boldon stadium."
He added: "Even culture can be included with all these world-class facilities here. Various national teams can be housed here for reasonable rates once they can negotiate with the Football Association. I see they (TTFA) also have plans for the easy flow of traffic in and out of this area. In addition, this area is not known to for flooding, so you cannot say you will have that kind of thing."
As the tour continued, John-Willaims told his opposite numbers that the project is funded by FIFA, the world governing body for the sport at a cost of TT$18 million.
He said, "When I became president back in 2015, the TTFA assets stood at $149,000 and in 2017 it increased to $46 million and when the home of football project is completed it is estimated that our asset base will be around $160 million."
Patrica Butcher, of the Netball Association, was very high in praise about the facilities saying: " This is of international standard. I think this is what the sporting fraternity will want. If you're talking about sports tourism we can invite teams down here and feel proud to bring them here to perform and feel relax in an environment that is very conducive. I'm really happy to see this. I hope that netball will get an opportunity to bless it when he celebrates our 40th anniversary late in 2019 or early in 2020. I have just returned from Liverpool, England to see where the 2019 World Championship will take place and this is very comparable to what is out there in the big countries. We just need something comparable for netball to what exists for netball internationally."
Following that completion, the TTFA will then move to have all the buildings outfitted so that it can start doing business which is expected to benefit all stakeholders in the sport.
John-Williams, a businessman and contractor while addressing his guests, noted, "The aim to make this a three-star hotel. What we've here is the future of football, the future of sports. Sports have to start thinking big business, and thinking differently and being independent. I must thank the government for supporting us in this initiative. This facilities have massive corporate potential such as naming rights, we can rent the facilities to companies, and fellow sporting organisations and get service providers involved."
He ended by saying: "We'll have a wall of fame, a football museum. The rooms will bear the names of footballers and the walls will sport pictures of our football heroes. When teams visit and stay here they must feel intimidated."