under the current administration
We are in trouble and regardless from which angle we view our football, it seems that there is no way out of the morass in which we have found ourselves.
No one would believe that this is a country which played at five versions of FIFA World Cups; the trip to Germany in 2006 being the most memorable one of them all.
No one remembers anymore that the Men’s U 20 team qualified to play in the 2009 FIFA U 20 Men’s World Cup in Egypt and Portugal before that and displayed the red, white and black for the global village to see. Trinidad & Tobago has hosted two FIFA World Cups – U17 Boys and U 17 Girls. Our national teams have participated in FIFA competitions all over the world with a certain amount of respect and class.
There was a time when our coaches and referees were the best in the Caribbean and they represented our country at the highest levels of world and regional football. At the administrative level, our Match Commissioners were the best in CONCACAF and everyone was proud to relate to our football in some way. Sponsors both at home and abroad were competing for the sponsorship of our national teams and the live broadcast of matches became the fiercest competition of all. But not today! Ent, we have a House of Football to replace all of that?
When one thinks of our football, the pride that used to swell our hearts to watch our Soca Warriors do battle against the best on the field is no more and one is beginning to wonder whether the dream of playing at the highest level has been lost. And, if so, what do we need to do to recapture those glory days.
The way the national team is playing today is erasing the memory of 1965 when Trinidad & Tobago defeated Argentina in a Pan American game and if one were to map where Argentina has gone since then to where we are, a shout would emerge calling on the powers that be to shake the current crop of leaders in football and to banish them far from our football for life.
All that we have tried since the days of Ollie Camps and Richard Groden among others have been an ignominious failure.
The young residue of that period learned nothing except the in-fighting and the greed for power and the failure to have their own way, seem to be crippling the already challenged leadership in what used to be even for us the beautiful game.
And so, the question that one must always ask is what do we do with a football administration that lacks the creativity to manage its expenses, pay its bills and attract quality players to give us a place in the global village on the world stage?
The question we are forced to ask is what should we do with an administration that is overseeing in 2019, the worst Trinidad and Tobago national team in the post-colonial history of our country.
For 21 consecutive games, we failed to win an International match and this is not because we were playing against teams like Brazil, England or Germany. In some cases, we played teams that were lower ranked than Trinidad & Tobago and yet failed to secure victories.
When are we going to recognize that this present football administration lacks the intelligence to chart a way forward for our team that on more than one occasion brought this country together in a way politicians have ignominiously failed?
John-Williams has become famous for lying repeatedly to the stakeholders in football. It has become a habit with him. No good leader should practise this kind of deception.
Sad state of affairs – T&T Football
The state of football in Trinidad & Tobago today is sad and this is not just with the senior team, but with our junior teams and our female teams which at least under this new dispensation used to win. But now they have learned the art of losing and practising it to perfection and this raises questions about our ability as a nation to play this beautiful game.
The question we have to ask is what went wrong and hope that in the answer we find a clue to fix our problem.
What is even more disappointing is the fact that the Football President David John-Williams sees as one of his greatest achievements, the construction of a House of Football, when the game is at its lowest peak in our country.
He has opened it conveniently mere days before the elections for his candidacy and with a phalanx of international football officials who have conspired to keep every Caribbean country out of the upcoming FIFA World Cup. England can play Montenegro in a FIFA Qualifying World Cup match and Portugal can play against Lithuania but the USA and Canada, the countries of the two senior CONCACAF officials who conspired to deny Trinidad & Tobago an even chance of qualifying will not play against Trinidad & Tobago. And John-Williams sees nothing wrong with this and says nothing!
He believes that a House of Football can get Trinidad & Tobago into a FIFA World Cup Final! Poor David does not understand that the proof of the pudding is in the eating; how your players perform on the field of play and not how expensive a House of Football that has been built.
In reality what he is really proposing with his House of Football is a museum to remind the nation of the good old days, a place where they could enter to reminisce on the recent past, when stadia used to be filled with supporters chanting while the Strike Squad, as it was then called, was ruffling the feathers of other so-called giants.
What does John-Williams hope will change as he builds for this dying sport, a home over which more in-fighting will become the order of the day?
We are putting the cart before the horse
I have no problem with a House for Football but once again we are putting the cart before the horse because what John-Williams should be addressing, what his administration should be discussing with the connoisseurs of football is a way forward, some kind of strategic plan to lift this country out of the bottomless pit football has found itself.
Probably, Mr. John-Williams does not know that Trinidad & Tobago is currently positioned at Number 101 in the FIFA Rankings and we are now keeping company with unknown teams like Palestine and Estonia.
Probably the President David John-Williams is totally unaware of the fact that under him Trinidad and Tobago have tumbled 47 places down and under his current head coach we have collapsed by 17 places which offer no hope for the future for football.
Based on the current system, we cannot even hope for automatic qualification to be able to stake a claim for the Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup because to do so we must be ranked within the top six in CONCACAF and the last time I checked, the Soca Warriors were sadly placed at number 11.
The national team has until June 2020 to put its house in order, not the House that the President John-Williams has built but their state of football, their talent and their game if they hope to qualify.
Sadly, because our administrators have lost their vision, our players are brutally affected since some Premier Leagues across the world are not even considering recruiting members from nation-states that are below Number 70 in the FIFA Ranking.
Our players were never faced with that kind of problem before, so if Dwight Yorke were in the prime of his career now, he would have never been gifted with the opportunity to play for Manchester United in the Premier League because England happens to be one of the countries where this rule applies.
Trinidad & Tobago’s next International match
Now I try to understand what the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association is doing.
They are trying to play teams to improve their ranking within the FIFA, but to play a team like Anguilla where they scored 15 goals is not the way to go because Anguilla is woefully placed in the ranking at 209, 108 places lower than Trinidad and Tobago. Many are facetiously asking if this country’s next match will be against Five Islands! One never knows!
Since Honduras has just embarassed us 4-0 – our 22nd consecutive defeat!
The USA women’s football team would have even been more brutal than we were on Anguilla because clearly, they demonstrate more field of play intelligence than the men who represent us do.
I will be the last one to argue against a House for Football, but President David John-Williams needs to tell us how this House will improve our FIFA ranking, how it will provide opportunities for us to qualify for another World Cup and most importantly how it will gift our players with the chance to run against their idols if we cannot raise our FIFA ranking above 70.
This is the worst period in our football and the country will remember David John-Williams for the abject failure he has become. It will take some shine away from Dennis Lawrence because I hope that we never forget that decisive header in Bahrain that took us to the FIFA Men’s World in Germany in 2006.
And since the TTFA President has chosen to build his House of Football at this time, the players will never forget that at a time when they needed the Football administrators to stand and deliver a strategic plan to get them out of this current mess, all that President John-Williams has focused on was a comfortable home for the administrators which is of no value to a footballing nation that Trinidad and Tobago has become.
Our football deserves better and what this country needs now is a development plan, a world-class coach and administrators who can teach our players how to win again. In a word, Trinidad & Tobago’s football needs a new administration.