Trinidad and Tobago’s footballers again find themselves in the humiliating position of picking up the pieces from another failed World Cup campaign—this time for the 2022 edition in Qatar. The Soca Warriors’ latest failed drive came last weekend after a woeful goalless draw against the Bahamas, one of the remaining two games they had to win to have any chance of advancing to the next phase.
Needless to say, following yesterday’s final academic group match against St Kitts and Nevis, it would have been worth being a fly on the wall to hear what coach Terry Fenwick would have told his players. Then again, Fenwick, or any coach worth their salt, should not have been in charge yesterday had he reflected on what he has overseen since his appointment last year.
Current skipper Sheldon Bateau summed up the team’s current state of affairs on Monday when he said, “For me, I always have to motivate myself when it comes to Trinidad football. To be honest, there’s so many things against us as players, that mentally, physically, financially, playing for the national team takes a lot out of you. We miss family time, you name it. We sacrifice a lot. …We have a lot to fix and I think if these things aren’t fixed it is difficult to continue under these circumstances.”
The current team lives under the shadows of speaking anonymously to the media about the issues they face for fear of victimisation, even while they are clearly not receiving good treatment from the TTFA. Now, this is not to say that players previously did not face similar issues, but at least the likes of Dwight Yorke, Russell Latapy, David Nakhid or Shaka Hislop, now an ESPN football pundit who still speaks out on issues ailing local football, would let the TTFA know it was wrong and did so publicly.
Truth be told, there is nothing that now suggests the FIFA-appointed Normalisation Committee under Robert Hadad has done anything to rectify the issues left by the previous David John-Williams administration or those before his, whether it be with the players or those whom the TTFA is indebted to. Quite frankly, Mr Hadad’s modus operandi does not suggest he and his Normalisation team will come up with a formula to take T&T out of the morass in which it finds itself anytime soon. His lack of communication with the media is also not endearing him to John Public, who deserves much better. Perhaps, FIFA will assess his work shortly and act accordingly. So too should Fenwick’s body of work be assessed and corrective action taken, given that the Concacaf Gold Cup is next on T&T’s plate and more humiliation could be a likely outcome with even stronger foes involved. In any event, both men, the players, local coaches and administrators need some serious introspection. T&T’s public, having tasted the 2006 Germany World Cup success, has long tired of excuses for why we cannot do it again. Perhaps this latest ignominy will spark the kind of revived interest in giving the footballing fraternity the booster shot it really needs.