Following a week of consultations and forum discussions between officials of UEFA and the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association including various stakeholders, the shared consensus at a Press Conference at the Hyatt Regency on Monday was that the local football factions are on the right path towards sustainable development.
CONCACAF Projects Senior Manager Howard McIntosh stressed on the positive factors already associated with football in this country and appeared confident that there will be oncoming improvements and development in the local game.
“The purpose is to give you an update on what has been a growing relationship between Concacaf, the TTFA and UEFA in developing football in Trinidad and Tobago. The focus has been really on the development of the Professional football league,” McIntosh said.
“We have been here basically for the entire week meeting with different stakeholders. It has been a very promising week of excellent exchanges, listening to the various stakeholders all week and a lot of learning. And our task now is working alongside the TTFA in trying to put in place the different aspects of what we discussed.
“Trinidad and Tobago finds itself in a very fortunate situation with the blessings that it has. You have the best football infrastructure in the region, you have and Iguess one can argue, easily one of if not the most supportive government in the region in relation to football development and contribution to the game. You have significant support from the parent bodies in football, FIFA, Concacaf, UEFA and the CFU. You are also blessed in any ways with passionate people involved in football,” the Jamaican added.
UEFA International Relations Project Specialist Chris Milnes echoed similar sentiments, saying that he was leaving these shores with a smile on his face in anticipation of further positive developments for the game here.
“This was my first time in Trinidad and Tobago. I was present at all of the workshops for the whole week and one thing that really stood with me was people were telling us here in Trinidad and Tobago that we are different. There are certain things regarding the past here that are different to other countries but we have seen similar issues throughout the the world, with various projects we have been involved with. And that is what we are here to do. It is not to impose, not to lecture… it is to share our experience with a view to helping you the stakeholders and we have spoken to many different stakeholders throughout the week,” Milnes said.
“Another thing that really stuck with me is that there are these common objectives and this common will to try an improve the situation here. It’s not going to be easy but if you can focus together on the commonalities and then work on small or significant changes that are necessary I really think that good things are going to happen. I am going away with a big smile on my face thinking that we really have helped and I am positive about the future here,” Milnes added.
UEFA head of international relations Eva Pasquier said her team’s mission here was to assist with strategic planning for the the operations of the TTFA, the Home of Football and the top tier leagues in the country,namely the TT Pro League and the TT Super League.
“I would like to stress that our mission here are in no way to impose anything, or to impose the practices that we have in Europe. It is much more about exchanging, about showing the best practice examples and together with the stakeholders in Trinidad and Tobago, to find the best way to go forward,” Pasquier said.
“The construction of the home of football is a fantastic project, which at the very difficult financial situation that the TTFA is facing at the moment could be really an enormous help in increasing that income,” she said.
“I think you are all well aware that the TTFA has a lot of debts… debts that they have inherited from the previous management of the Federation and previous years but they have to cope with it and it’s not easy. That was also reflected in many of the discussions that we had with a lot of the stakeholders where we can say that this federation at the moment does not run a lot of programmes because of lack of the money. This project can make them more independent,” Pasquier stated.
“There were so many nice discussions here on how everyone here loves the football and supports the football. We truly believe that with small changes so much can be achieved and the football here can be brought to the level and popularity it had some years ago,” Pasquier added.
UEFA football operations specialist Robert Pongracz focused on League development and spoke of the importance of bringing back the interest of the public in local football through the leagues.
“In the spirit of this partnership we came up with some proposals based on best practices. We were looking at how to make football more exciting, to get the emotions back and attract people back to the stadiums. We proposed a promotion and relegation system. They have a long history with this system because it gives aspirations for players and clubs to fight for the best and to get awarded also. It is also important that everybody in this system is financially sustained,” Pongracz said.