Well, I went into shock and how I didn't pass out only the Lord knows. There I am taking a leisurely read of the Guardian and suddenly, I read that the T&T Football Association (TTFA) has taken it upon itself to rescue the immediate future of the domestic game. Before going further, I asked myself, how the TTFA (which can't even rescue themselves) are going to rescue the domestic game? Are these people for real? They must think all of us Trinbagonians are fools. I mean, are we on a different planet?
Anyhow, on reading further, the mighty TTFA has decided to dissolve the Gillette-led commission and form a five-member committee to investigate the structures and a pathway forward for T&T football with immediate effect. LOL - I think that means laughing out loud? The TTFA said they disbanded the commission because it did not fulfil its responsibilities in terms of the tasks it was set out to do.
From what I can recall, Gillette was chairing a commission which included two Pro League reps, two Super League reps, the TTFA General Secretary (yes, the TTFA was represented) and two independents to get the Pro League and the Super League to form one league-the T League. They created the name and all seemed content.
The commission then met with all of the stakeholders - the Pro and Superleague and the TTFA; they ALL signed an agreement to have one League, a combination of the Pro and Super League which worked out to be 10 Pro League clubs and four Super League clubs. There was one important caveat - the commission was dependent on receiving money from the TTFA. You remember what LOL means, right? If I had realised that, I would have told the commission to disband themselves the day it was formed. I understand the chairman of the commission kept asking the TTFA rep and the President of the TTFA when they were going to receive the TTFA part of their promise. I wonder if Gillette knows the meaning of the word promise especially when it comes to the TTFA.
How on earth was this commission to start a league with no money? How were they to hire staff with no money? How were they going to pay footballers who would have signed contracts? I understand the money was a combination of the FIFA fund money and the Ministry of Sports through the Sports Company, which is the money that has been used for years for the Pro League.
Poor Gillette and his commission - they all thought things were perfect and all necessary particulars agreed. Everything depended solely on the TTFA receiving money to start the season so, the TTFA did not deliver on their promise and in their usual high-handed manner, says the commission did not live up to expectations. The commission gave the TTFA all the budgets, the cost of running the league both administratively and from a footballing standpoint, but, I blame the commission; the TTFA obviously could not understand the document given to them and the commission never explained it.
Having established that, the TTFA did not support the commission in their quest to form the T League and in their usual modus operandi tried to convince all the football-loving Trinbagonians that the commission was a waste. They are now suddenly recommending a second division in the Pro League and where will these clubs come from? The T&T Super League (TTSL).
My dear readers, the TTSL is a community-based league and has to be, together with the Secondary Schools Football League (SSFL), the two best-organised leagues in the country. So one has to ask, why would the TTFA want to ask the TTSL clubs to join a new league when they are not sure where they might be getting money from? Especially when they are harping on about FIFA hasn't sent the funds. Why should these TTSL clubs play under the Pro League? Is there a hidden agenda? The clubs have been offered by the TTFA $8,000USD to leave the TTSL. How come they did not offer the commission any funding but suddenly get money to offer the TTSL clubs? Something just doesn't seem right.
Thankfully, 13 of the TTSL clubs have stayed with the League and have rejected the carrot being offered and are participating in the 2019 Super League from October 4th to December 14th. The League is being sponsored by Ascension Limited and Raymond Tim Kee Investments - well done to those two organisations for supporting football.
While the TTFA bad mouths the commission and the 'Home of Football' is the best thing since butter bread, we now can't beat Martinique in two games. We lost to St Vincent - ranked 176th in the world. Poor Dennis Lawerence, a national hero shouldn't have to go through this but when you have an Administration, as one former technical director said, “operating by guess”, what do you expect? Our junior teams are not winning and we are no longer feared as a footballing nation in the region. Few people go to the stadium to see the national teams perform and instead of helping our football and footballers on the field, we are dissolving a commission which had a mandate to get football running effectively again. It is a pity the TTFA don't take a line from Mission Impossible - “this tape will self-destruct in 5 seconds”.
Editor's note: The views expressed in this column are solely those of the writer and do not reflect the views of any organisation of which he is a stakeholder.