TTFA host US Embassy officials at Home of Football

Trinidad and Tobago Football Association officials led by President David John-Williams hosted a team of delegates from the United States Embassy at the Home of Football in Couva on Wednesday.

Con­sular Chief at the Em­bassy Tim Swan­son said they had been talk­ing with the TTFA for some time now to find ways on how to smooth­ly in­te­grate the trav­el of the na­tion­al teams with their visa process­es as much as pos­si­ble.

“Our visa process­es have changed and I think there have been some per­son­nel changes in the TTFA, and some­times the knowl­edge of what we need in or­der to get the visas tak­en care off prop­er­ly for the teams and the coach­es are not al­ways car­ried for­ward, so that’s part of the rea­son why we have come down here to meet with the foot­ball as­so­ci­a­tion,” Swan­son said.

“One of the main points is to make sure that the TTFA lead­er­ship is aware of what our visa process­es are and what are some of the pa­ra­me­ters for ap­ply­ing for visas. Some­times the time-frames that have been ex­pect­ed and as­sumed weren’t re­al­is­tic, they were too short and this has been one of the is­sues that have come out over the past cou­ple years. Oth­er times it has gone quite smooth­ly,” he continued.

The em­bassy chief al­so said he was blown away by the qual­i­ty of the fa­cil­i­ty, not­ing it’s a huge un­der­tak­ing by the TTFA to build a good foun­da­tion for foot­ball here in T&T and pos­si­bly the Caribbean.

Swan­son said he was look­ing for­ward to see­ing the fa­cil­i­ty when it is in full op­er­a­tion, as he be­lieves it could po­ten­tial­ly be used by US teams for train­ing in T&T. In the past, the foot­ball as­so­ci­a­tion, led by David John-Williams, has clashed with the em­bassy while try­ing to se­cure visas for play­ers and staff mem­bers seek­ing to trav­el to or through the USA.

John-Williams said he was enthused by the discussions.

“He is very ex­cit­ed about the fu­ture. Very frank and open dis­cus­sions about the process for ap­ply­ing for visas, and I think they have been very ac­com­mo­dat­ing, par­tic­u­lar­ly in the last cou­ple months or so, where we haven’t ex­pe­ri­enced any ma­jor hic­cups. The US em­bassy has a process and we have to re­spect that as well.”

The spank­ing new, state-of-the-art fa­cil­i­ty is equipped with a ho­tel, an en­ter­tain­ment cen­tre and train­ing pitch­es for in­door, out­door, fut­sal and beach foot­ball.

“It is a very im­por­tant fa­cil­i­ty, first and fore­most for our lo­cal foot­ball. We spend mil­lions of dol­lars every year to ac­com­mo­date na­tion­al teams for camps and so on. Dur­ing World Cup qual­i­fy­ing, we spend mil­lions of dol­lars in ho­tel ac­com­mo­da­tion for our teams and this fa­cil­i­ty will al­le­vi­ate those costs,” John-Williams ex­plained.

With the fa­cil­i­ty set to be com­plet­ed in Au­gust, lo­cal fans and sup­port­ers will once again get the op­por­tu­ni­ty to see the more se­nior team match­es at home. John-Williams has not­ed in the past that the cost of host­ing for­eign teams here has been pro­hib­i­tive.

A gala open­ing cer­e­mo­ny is be­ing planned for the open­ing of the fa­cil­i­ty but be­fore that, a demon­stra­tion of how they in­tend to use the fa­cil­i­ty will be seen when the TTFA cel­e­brates its 111th an­niver­sary with an un­der-15 boys’ and girls’ tour­na­ment that will fea­ture teams from Mex­i­co, Pana­ma, Venezuela, Cu­ra­cao and T&T.

Photo at top shows David John-Williams with Susan L’Ecuyer, Visa Chief at the US Embassy and Tim Swanson, Consular Chief at the Embassy during the site visit at the Home of Football.