TTFA President takes Sporting heads on tour of Home of Football

A US$2.5 million (TT$16.85 million) grant was given to the Trinidad and Tobago  Football Association to build TT football’s new “home.”

President of the TTFA David John-Williams, revealed the price tag of the facility yesterday in a conversation with Newsday during a tour of the “Home of Football”, which is located next to the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva.

John-Williams responded to claims of being secretive on the specifics of building the facility, dismissing them as mischief.

“I have absolutely no problem with transparency in this project. But we took a different approach that a lot of people are not too happy with,” John-Williams said.

“But we live in a society where you will get a lot of criticism. I am not new to it. I am not a president that is well-liked, because of some of the changes. We had to make some really difficult changes that people could not accept. When we came into the Football Association, football was in a bad way, and we had to take drastic decisions that rubbed people in the wrong way. But criticisms would only make me stronger.”

John-Williams expressed pride and gratitude for the progress the multi-million-dollar building project has made, boasting that building would be completed by the end of November, and that final touches would be done by February 2019.

Yesterday, during the tour, John-Williams showed off all the sections of the complex, which include a hotel, an entertainment centre and training grounds.

“This is the future of Trinidad football…This is the future of Trinidad sport!” John-Williams said as he displayed the facility to stakeholders.

During the tour he explained the complex was built using ICF technology, which utilises blocks of Styrofoam filled with concrete to make a cheap, easy-to-use, lightweight and durable building block. He said the blocks would insulate the facility from heat from the outside, making rooms “exceptionally cool.” The largest rooms in the hotel are about 24 feet long by 25 feet wide, Newsday was told.

He said despite the speed at which the buildings were erected, there were no more than 20 contractors working on the site each day.

John-Williams thanked the Government and FIFA for their investment in TT football. The Government supplied the TTFA with the 17.5 acre parcel of land on which the facility stands.

“The Government has supported this project tremendously in giving us what we consider prime land to do these three facilities that we see today. That was a huge help for us…We felt that we needed to prove the government right in building this facility and I hope that we have done such,” John-Williams said

The Home of Football project, he said, was the first fully funded FIFA Forward project — the organisation’s initiative to provide 360-degree, tailor-made support for football development.

The facility was met with excitement from various stakeholders, who included key members of multiple sporting fraternities

“This is of an international standard and I think this is what the sporting fraternity would want,” said Dr Patricia Butcher, president of the TT Netball Association.

“When you are talking sport tourism, we can now invite teams down here and be proud to bring them here to perform and relax. I am hoping we will be able to bless it when we celebrate our 40th anniversary late in 2019 or early in 2020.”

Andrew Gomez-Burke, president of the TT Gymnastics Federation, added, “I travel internationally at all times, and there are no facilities that I have seen that look so complete compared to what I have just witnessed here. I think John-Williams is doing a fantastic job. I could only hope that the other sporting organisations would utilise this facility to its maximum.”

Guardian Report

The TTFA 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.”

Photo caption: TTFA president David John-Williams (left) speaks to representatives from local sporting bodies, including Dr Patricia Butcher (netball), Robert Farrier (cycling) and Dudnath Ramkessoon (cricket), during yesterday’s tour of the Home of Football.(Photo/Newsday)