Hadad, Pro League clubs see light ahead

T&T’s eleven Pro league clubs are op­ti­mistic about the fu­ture of pro­fes­sion­al foot­ball in Trinidad and To­ba­go fol­low­ing their vir­tu­al meet­ing with Robert Hadad, the chair­man of the T&T Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion (TTFA) Nor­mal­iza­tion Com­mit­tee on De­cem­ber 17.

Lead­ing the dis­cus­sions for the clubs was chair­man Brent San­cho, who said that, “Mr Hadad put his vi­sion on the ta­ble and the Club Own­ers gave their views and there was a lot of com­mon ground cov­ered on the path­way for­ward. It was a pro­gres­sive dis­course with opin­ions ex­changed in a very open way and every­one has agreed that the on­ly way for­ward must be col­lec­tive and unit­ed.”

Hadad has al­so ex­pressed sat­is­fac­tion with the at­ti­tude of the club own­ers and rep­re­sen­ta­tives and the out­come of the meet­ing gen­er­al­ly.

He said, “Ba­si­cal­ly, the NC is fo­cussed on all lev­els of foot­ball, youth, grass­roots, women and am­a­teur but we all recog­nise the im­por­tance of pro­fes­sion­al foot­ball.

” We want a na­tion­al league that brings to­geth­er the Pro League and the Su­per League in two di­vi­sions man­aged by the TTFA. We want pro­mo­tion and rel­e­ga­tion to keep each di­vi­sion com­pet­i­tive so that clubs can see a path­way from zon­al right up to pro­fes­sion­al lev­els. We are aware it is not a new con­cept but our ideas for fund­ing would be ap­peal­ing to clubs and play­ers. The Pro League has been very pos­i­tive, the Su­per League meet­ing was cor­dial and we have a bud­getary process to analyse now.”

Hadad feels the an­swers to get­ting foot­ball back on track are with­in the grasp of the stake­hold­ers and while the NC will take the lead, it is im­por­tant for “a spir­it of col­lec­tiv­i­ty”.

He ex­plained that” We have a plan to gen­er­ate fund­ing from Cor­po­rate Trinidad and To­ba­go, Gov­ern­ment and FI­FA. We want to re­ac­ti­vate fa­cil­i­ties with­in the com­mu­ni­ties so that clubs be­come true rep­re­sen­ta­tives of their com­mu­ni­ties and this is a di­men­sion that needs leg­is­la­tion be­cause hav­ing their own home ground with­in the com­mu­ni­ty is a ma­jor step to self-suf­fi­cien­cy among the clubs.”

On the top­ic of fund­ing, he told the club rep­re­sen­ta­tives that, “We want to do fund­ing from a cen­tralised gov­er­nance struc­ture so that Gov­ern­ment, FI­FA and Cor­po­rate spon­sors are sat­is­fied that they get val­ue for in­vest­ment and play­ers and staff ben­e­fit.”

His and the NC plan was al­so echoed by San­cho, whose main con­cern is to sta­bilise the league be­hind the huge in­vest­ments which have been made by clubs and var­i­ous stake­hold­ers for over a decade in lo­cal and re­gion­al foot­ball.

He stat­ed that “Fund­ing as out­lined by Mr. Hadad along with clubs hav­ing ac­cess to prop­er fa­cil­i­ties with­in the com­mu­ni­ties is a for­mu­la for suc­cess. Some clubs will al­ways be rich­er than oth­ers but if every club’s ba­sic bud­get is as­sured, then it brings some lev­el of eq­ui­ty on the play­ing field.”

With re­gards to the As­cen­sion League for 2021, both San­cho and Hadad felt the foot­ball cal­en­dar has room for every­one.

Hadad point­ed out that, “We have asked the As­cen­sion League to bring for­ward their plan and on a per­son­al lev­el, I have no prob­lem in their league be­ing a pre-sea­son tour­na­ment as a fore­run­ner to a mas­sive Na­tion­al league in 2021. We will be guid­ed by their pro­pos­al and the in­puts by the clubs.”

San­cho said, “Its all about struc­tur­ing the cal­en­dar in the right way so that Trinidad and To­ba­go foot­ball can be the win­ner. This time around.”

So far, gov­ern­ment re­stric­tions due to the coro­n­avirus (Covid- 19) pan­dem­ic, have halt­ed com­pe­ti­tions in team sports with on­ly the Na­tion­al men’s se­nior team which has FI­FA World Cup Qual­i­fiers in March next year, grant­ed an ex­emp­tion to train as a team.

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