FIFA President in T&T – Ato Boldon Stadium announced as Home for Football

The official visit to this country by FIFA President Gianni Infantino as guest of the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association grabbed the headlines in the local media on Monday and Tuesday.

Infantino arrived at the Piarco International Airport shortly after 10am and after stepping off the private jet, he was welcomed  by TTFA President David John Williams and members of the Executive along with Minister of Sport Darryl Smith. And following a short arrival ceremony at the Diplomatic Lounge, he headed to Port of Spain in a  six-car convoy for meetings with the President of the Republic, His Excellency Anthony Carmona and Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley as members of FIFA,TTFA and the Government also had lunch together at the Prime Minister’s Diplomatic Lounge in St Ann’s, Port of Spain.

This was followed by a Press Conference at the Ato Boldon Stadium which preceded a goodwill football match at the Couva venue.

“The T&T Football Association has finally gotten a home of its own. Yesterday this was confirmed at a press conference at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva,” the Guardian wrote.

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley is all smiles after receiving a FIFA shirt from FIFA President Gianni Infantino on Monday. Photo by Ash Allen for TTFA Media.

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and Sod Turning Ceremony

Infantino and Minister Smith turned the sod on the North Greens at Ato Boldon Stadium to officially begin the construction process of a building where the business of football will soon be operated from , 109 years after the TTFA was formed.

Infantino said it was a moment to celebrate as after so many years the TTFA has finally got a home of its own, noting that a home is not just the building or the four walls, but it is moreso a  place where you can go back and resource yourself and think about the future. “Well now the T&TFA has a home and can channel and structure that great passion that exists for football here in this great country.”

The FIFA football boss congratulated the Trinidad and Tobago Government for its support towards the sport, noting that he during his journey between Piarco to Port of Spain earlier in the day, he observed football pitches everywhere, youngsters playing on every field, as well as the passion the country has for the sport, which is a main ingredient needed to build a new football organisation. Funding for the project will be aided through joint initiative by the FIFA and the SporTT. The new home at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva will enable the national team access to upgrade and newly laid practice pitches as well as other type training facilities within the stadium compound.

President John-Williams noted that the Hasely Crawford Stadium will remain the choice of venue for major international matches.

Infantino explained that like the TTFA, the FIFA has got to put the business of football first, which was sadly lacking in the past. He pointed out that when we work we have to adhere to good ethical standards and apply good governance standards as well as accountability and transparency, saying they too at FIFA have to be accountable for what they do. “And if we do that we can focus on what we have to do, which is playing football, living football, breathing football and developing football. This will help associations such as the TTFA to improve football” Infantino said.

FIFA President Gianni Infantino and Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley share a light moment. Photos by Ashley Allen for TTFA Media.

John Williams mentioned that the TTFA has made tremendous strides in restructuring and developing the game since they entered office and the new home for the TTFA will be another deliverable. He told a large gathering that his TTFA has made available audited financial statements to the FIFA which was a requirement to receiving funding from the FIFA, as well as initiated the development of a National Elite Youth League.

Smith congratulated the TTFA for following the FIFA in its operation which focuses on transparency, saying there has been a clear effort by both Infantino and John Williams to clean up corruption in football, noting that government has taken a page in this approach to stamp out corruption, saying they have been doing their best to put policies in place to deal with sport.