The Trinidad and Tobago Football Association hosted an interactive forum with key individuals, stakeholders and partners at the VIP Lounge of the Hasely Crawford Stadium last Friday.
The purpose of the event was to reboot the Soca Warriors and TTFA brand, featuring redesigned logos and merchandise items as the TTFA launched into the next era of Soca Warriors Football.
These moves are designed to create more synergy across football that involves our various National Teams and local football in general with the TTFA taking swift action to reboot the brand and give it a much needed shot in the arm, the shake-up which is expected to signal a new era local football
People are still looking for quality and value wrapped in a mythical experience and the TTFA understands this.
This is an exciting time to be a Soca Warriors fan. We have one of the top teams in the Caribbean and now by extension the CONCACAF region both on the Men and Women’s side. The TTFA is now introducing a new look that is bold, edgy, powerful and truly representative of us turning the page and entering a brand new age.”
The Soca Warriors and the TTFA’s new identity is all about a renewed sense of culture, energy, enthusiasm and optimism.
Among those who took part in the forum were TTFA President Raymond Tim Kee, National Teams operations manager William Wallace, Director of Football Kendall Walkes, National Senior Men’s Team goalkeeper Jan Michael Williams and Lifestyle Motors representative Sean Thompson. TTFA Communications manager Shaun Fuentes and media personality Vidia Ramphal chaired the proceedings.
A major insight into the operations of the organization and its national teams was given and some key disclosures were made regarding plans for the various teams for the upcoming months.
Wallace stated that the of the TTFA is to satisfy all its national teams on a yearly basis, then a budget of $75 million will be needed.
Commenting on what has taken place on the field so far this year, Wallace noted the T&T national teams have been kept very busy, but is finding it very tough due to a lack of financial support.
Wallace said so far this year seven national teams have participated in international tournaments, and if the senior team has to be going through what it has been in terms of funding, then people can well imagine what is happening at the lower levels for the other teams.
Reflecting on a recent situation he said, “Our Under-20 women team recently had a tournament and they almost did not make it to the qualifiers, not because they were not prepared but because of a lack of finances.
He added: “Let me just say T&T we have to get serious.
“All over the world football is impacting lives and right here at home as well we can all reflect on 1989 and 2006.
“To me these were defining moments in T&T’s history where it brought people together and it must not go unnoticed, and if we are to satisfy all our teams we are definitely talking about $75 million a year.
“We are talking about having full-time staff, because as a matter fact, right now we don’t even have a full quota of full-time staff on our senior national team.
“The coach is the only full-time person on the senior team, the same team that performed so well at the Gold Cup, that was able to fight hard against Mexico.”
He added: “This is our flagship team, so you can imagine what happens at the lower levels. So, in this regard, I have to compliment all coaches and members of staff, technical and administrative for keeping this thing afloat, without proper remuneration.
“Because if it was not for them, this dream would have die, and thats the dream of many citizens of T&T.
Tim Kee added: “USA’s budget for football a year is over US$100 million while Mexico’s is more than US$150, but here in T&T we struggle to raise US$5 million, and one of the reasons is that we don’t have the population to push the turnstiles to come in the stadiums, to generate funds that will even offset the cost of hosting an international match.”
In explaining why T&T has not hosted many matches in recent times, Tim Kee said: “Generally 95 per cent of the matches we host here in T&T, we end up in deficit because we just don’t have the numbers. The players and the teams we have been looking at are top quality teams because if we want to go and be with the top teams we need to be playing top quality teams.
“That why we have been performing in recent times as we have been because we have been liming the eagles, the top teams as Tim Kee described it.
“Our performances are beginning to match our expectations and through those kind of displays as well it is then we will attract patronage and support, but to get there is a real uphill task, so all we can do is plead to the citizens of this country, corporate and private to come forward and support our team.
“We have a new constitution, and we have re-adjusted our organisation but have not filled all the positions because that calls for money again, but we are looking forward and focus on the field to be a real challenge to any team in Concacaf and we will demonstrate that again.
“We did it recently at the Gold Cup against Mexico, and to the USA I say here we come when Concacaf World Cup qualifiers begin on November 17.”
Hart to stay for long time
Despite not putting pen to paper on a new contract as yet, Stephen Hart is set to stay on as coach of the T&T Soca Warriors team for a long time to come. This was the assurance given by Tim Kee
A former coach of the Canada national team, Hart signed a two-year deal to coach the Soca Warriors in 2013 and in his first tournament less than a month in charge he led the team to the quarterfinal stage of the Concacaf Gold Cup before losing 1-0 to eventual winner Mexico. At his last tournament, also at the Gold Cup in July, he again guided the T&T team to the quarterfinal round before bowing out to Panama, on sudden-death penalty-kicks after a 1-1 draw.
Tim Kee said everything was being put in place for the out of contract coach to do so on his return home from Canada, but he did not want to speak much about it until Hart was present as a form of respect. “I’m not in the habit of speaking about someone’s contract or salary terms when they are not present, so I will prefer to discuss it more at another media briefing when Hart is present,” the TTFA boss said.
And even though the coach is yet to officially sign a new deal, national goalkeeper Jan-Michael Williams believes he is the right man to take the team where it wants to go. Commenting on the impact on the team by Hart, the T&T goalkeeper said the results under the coach are there to be seen by all. He said, “When coach Hart came on board, it was the first time since 2000 we had qualified for the knockout round of the Gold Cup.
“I think what he has, that other coaches did not have in the past, is that he has that international experience and pedigree, having coached the likes of Canada, and he was born right here, so he actually knows the culture and the people of T&T very well. “He knows his players very well also. He knows when the guys are joking around, how to push us and how to get into our brains and I am really excited going into this 2018 Russia World Cup campaign.”
T&T Soca Warriors will have the benefit of three international warm-ups between September and October and possibly two Copa America 2016 playoff matches before meeting powerhouse USA in the semifinal round Concacaf 2018 Russia World Cup qualifying, Group C opener, at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, Mucurapo, on November 17.
This was confirmed Wallace who saud two matches that have been confirmed are a clash against Mexico on September 4 in Salt Lake City, Utah, which everyone will be looking forward to based on the Soca Warriors showing against them at the Concacaf Gold Cup in the USA last month.
With regards to the upcoming Mexico match, which comes less than two months after a 4–4 thriller at the Gold Cup, Wallace said, “Again, this well be added pressure on the players, but they also have to understand we have to keep the momentum going. “We have to continue to build on what we started and if that is what it takes to bring T&T and the corporate sector on board then they have to understand their role in that.
“We then move on to October, where we have two available Fifa international dates and we already have confirmed a warm-up match with Panama in Panama City, and then the question is if we have any games here in T&T, and we are currently working on that for the other Fifa date in the month (October 13).
However, with only the coach Stephen Hart being employed on a full-time basis as part of the technical staff team, Wallace also pointed out that there was a great need for more staff to be added for the national team. He explained: “We have done a comparative study and the T&T team in terms of staff, we have the least numbers compared to the other teams who were at the Concacaf Gold Cup.
“We saw teams with 20-odd persons as technical staff members, but people here in T&T are complaining that we have 12 members. “Every single member of staff has a role to play and when you look at teams like Mexico which operates with a budget of over US$100 million and you see at a tournament like the Olympic qualifiers in 2012 they even brought their own cooks.
“You were not seeing their players even though we were in the same hotel, as they occupied their own floor, and they functioned professionally at that level with a full complement of staff, but we here are still fighting sometimes to take our boys across the road just to get burgers.
“So, again we have to feel very proud when we can go out there and compete and achieve what we do, and this is saying to us that we have a product, and if we can put the necessary support systems behind this product, just imagine where it can take us,” said Wallace.
Waldrum to return to Women’s team
USA-born Randy Waldrum is expected to return to T&T soon for a third stint as head coach of the Women’s Soca Warriors as they look ahead to the Caribbean Football Union opening round of the Women’s Olympic Qualifiers for Rio de Janeiro, next year.
The T&T women are expected to kick off Caribbean Football Union Women’s Olympic qualifiers against Antigua & Barbuda, Cayman Islands and St Lucia in Group Two soon, at the end of which the top team along with the other group winners One (Aruba, Grenada, Haiti, Puerto Rico); Three (Dominica, Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Suriname) and Four (Cuba, Guyana, St Kitts/Nevis) will advance to next year’s Concacaf Women’s Olympic Qualifying Championship from February 10-21 in the USA.
The top two finishers in the tournament will qualify for the 2016 Women’s Olympic Football Tournament that will run from August 3-20 in six Brazilian cities including the host city of Rio de Janeiro.
Tim Kee confirmed that Waldrum will be back in charge of the team.
The current coach of US National Women’s Soccer League Houston Dynamo, Waldrum was last in charge of the T&T women’s team for this year’s Canada World Cup qualifiers, in which T&T fell at the last hurdle, losing 1-0 at home to Ecuador in their playoff tie, after a 0-0 away deadlock. He was expected to be at the helm of the T&T women’s team for the recently concluded Pan American Games in Toronto, Canada as well but he failed to come to a suitable agreement with the T&TFA due to his commitments with his US women’s club.
In explaining the return of Waldrum as team coach, Tim Kee noted that contrary to what some may say, the women’s arm of T&T football has been very active. “Russell was filling a void left by Randy Waldrum who had to be excused because of his commitments for a tournament in the USA.
“He had to ask for a sort of sabbatical for the last few months to attend to some of that business and as case would have it Ross Russell has been appointed as a coach for of our clubs teams locally, therefore that void that was created will now be refilled by Randy Waldrum”, stated Tim Kee. “He is expected to be in a few days to commence training and clinics for our senior women’s team as they prepare for Olympic qualification.”