Interim president of the Unified Football Coaches of T&T (UFCTT) Jefferson George has labelled the appointment of American Constantine Konstin as interim coach of the senior women’s football team until November as a joke.
On Wednesday, Konstin was named as the team interim head coach via media release from the FIFA-appointed Normalisation Committee (NC) of the T&T Football Association (TTFA) led by chairman Robert Hadad.
The release stated that Konstin, who recently led the national men’s futsal team at the 2021 Concacaf Futsal Championships in May, will now lead the senior women’s team into two friendly internationals versus Panama on October 21 and October 25 at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Balmain, Couva.
The appointment to the temporary position for Konstin marks his first for a national football team as his previous working experience involved the men’s and women’s futsal teams in Portland, as well as T&T Under-18 women’s team at the 2018 Summer Youth Olympics in Argentina in 2018.
Konstin's appointment also comes after Welshman James Thomas, who was hired in April as the women's team's head coach after an extensive recruitment process resigned to pick up the position at Bristol City as their women and girls Youth Development Manager. He had previously spent four years within the Academy set-up.
The decision to vacate the position by Thomas came as a shock to the local federation as it comes on the heels of the team’s preparations for the Concacaf Women World Cup and Gold Cup Qualifiers, which luckily for T&T has been delayed from November to next February.
The T&T women will contest Group F alongside Guyana, Nicaragua, Dominica, and the Turks and Caicos Islands for the round-robin series at the end of which only the top team will advance to the next stage of qualification.
However, reached for comment, George a former national youth goalkeeper expressed his bitter disappointment with the decision and the process if there was one, used to name futsal coach Konstin as interim women’s football team boss.
George said, “It is unfortunate that we have to dignify such a decision with an interview to be honest.
“This is a joke, literally, it is a joke, however we can’t laugh because the joke is on us.”
He added, “There is no way and again this is not my job any way to defend the duty feelings of Mr Constantine, but we have coaches here in T&T, and it seems as though they are invisible at least to the NC.
George boasted, “We believe that football is the game that we love and we have coaches here who are qualified and competent to take over, I mean, at least, such for a job as an interim position as they call it or job to really oversee these two friendly games against Panama.
“If our local coaches cannot be given the charge to oversee two games and they choose a foreign coach, who is a futsal coach, now that is one of the things for us that was confusing to be honest.
“I don't know, listeners may be equally confused and some might miss the little difference in that futsal is a different game to football.
“That is like going to look for a badminton coach to coach table-tennis players. Now, while they both play with rackets obviously the rules of the game and so on are different and that's the same thing with football and futsal.
“There is no logical reason for the NC or whoever is responsible for selecting a coach for our women’s team to want to do that, there is no justifiable reason to do that.”
Turning his attention to the persons responsible for making the decision to appoint Konstin to the position, George said it says a lot.
“It says that the person who we have administering football at the moment, they don't have a clue.
“It says that we are in probably a bigger crisis than we all thought. When you think of things you know probably we can’t go much lower, and yet we keep being surprised.
George noted that a key element in selection of a coach must be the impact he will have on the players, but questioned whether this approach was made.
“One of the things for me that is critically important is a point that we keep making from the Coaches' Association standpoint is that the players are factored into these decisions and obviously that wasn't on here.
“You think about how the players are going to feel, knowing that you brought a futsal coach to prepare them for these two games coming up.
“I could imagine what's going through the players minds now after this hiring and obviously those things weren't considered at the decision-making level."