After a two-year battle with the parent body the T&T Football Association for unpaid salaries, per diem, travel costs, match fees, rental fees and other expenses, the national Futsal team, yesterday finally claimed victory in the High Court in Port-of-Spain to the tune of $500,000.
The amount, together with the legal costs of the futsal team of $69,200.82 was to be paid immediately.
Afterwards, then coach Clayton Morris said the victory was not for him but rather for the disrespect shown to the country's footballers, both men and women, who toil every day to be able to represent the red, white and black at local and international tournaments.
Morris, the former captain of the now famous 'Strike Squad' team of 1989, was the driving force behind the court battle, saying he was begged to prepare a team for the Caribbean Football Union (CFU) Tournament in Cuba in 2015, which he accepted to prevent the embattled football association from being penalized by the CFU.
In spite of the haste to get a team prepared, Morris got the support of his players who train four days a week, both day and night, and qualified for one of two playoff spots by virtue of placing third. However, their joy quickly turned to sorrow when president David John-Williams allegedly denied even knowing who had given Morris and company the team to train.
The team was led by captain Jerwyn Balthazar and included Ishmael Daniel, Anthony Small, Kareem Perry, Jamel Lewis, Colin Joseph, Adrian Pirthysingh, Kevin Graham, Kevaughn Connell, Keston Guy, Noel Williams, Cyrano Glen, Bevon Bass and Jameel Neptune. Morris headed the technical staff along with Ronald Brereton (manager), Sterling O'Brien (assistant coach), Perry Martin (goalkeeper coach) and Brent Elder (trainer/physio).
Morris said he took money out of his own pockets to rent facilities for the team to train while players showed amazing commitment by travelling long distances with families at their sides to practice, but compensation for all this, together with match fees, per diem and other costs were denied by John-Williams.
"We came together as a team and agreed to take legal action against the administrators of the sport. This is not about money, but they have to respect people for the work that they do. There needs to be a human touch within the football association," Morris said.
"I feel really sad to see now what our women footballers have gone through and the disrespect they were treated with."
Attempts to reach John Williams for a comment yesterday proved futile as calls to his cellphone went unanswered.