David John-Williams - President of the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association.
The phrase seems alien to most as the name is not one associated with Austin 'Jack' Warner who has been the de facto leader of the organisation for a few decades. Even under the most recent President, Port-Of-Spain Mayor Raymond Tim Kee there still remained an uneasiness despite Tim Kee's role in clearing debts and bringing constitutional reform because he served under a Warner led administration in the past. Now,that reform has allowed for a seemingly free and fair election for a new leader. The stakeholders have made their choice putting their faith in the Naparima College alumni, construction magnate and owner of W. Connection as the man to take T&T's football forward.
DJW, not to be confused with JW, was arguably the most interesting name of the four challengers that contested the election. He has the correct combination of business acumen and football experience that has made W.Connection one of the best run clubs locally. Their association with Naparima College has returned the school to the glory days of the past making them consistent champions and now all-time leader in National Intercol trophies. Thus, he has shown that he has a track record of relative success from his projects. Now it is the turn of T&T football to benefit from that diligence.
John-Williams issued a manifesto charting the way forward for T&T football with stated aims of fostering "a professional approach to local football" and "to ensure the development of the game at all levels" including "improving the infrastructure at community level". While the manifesto was quite detailed and gave excellent insight into what to expect moving forward over the next four years, a few things caught our interest as the country enters a new phase in our footballing landscape.
- Re-Structuring/Rationalisation of the league competition including a 12 team Pro-League with each team assigned to a community ground. This makes sense in terms of getting that community vibe back into local football. Is it practical though?We can't just pick up an existing pro-league club and drop them in a community and they suddenly become from that community. In addition, the calendar between pro-league, superleague and zonal football will be harmonised.
- Return of Zonal teams in an end-of-season competition, expanded to include age group teams as well from u-13 upward. This is good. In most nations there is a clear road as to how to get to the national teams. This provides that road-map at the age group levels. Prove you're the best in the zone,get selected for that team, then prove yourself there and keep moving up the ladder.
- TTFA involvement with Primary and Secondary Schools football to get coaches on the same wavelength and introduce international age appropriate best practices for students of that age. This is part of a holistic football programme to improve player development and talent discovery and monitoring.
- Identify, target, and secure on a four year renewable basis, six gold sponsors thirty silver sponsors and twenty bronze sponsors to secure the income needed to support and sustain the TTFA operations and programmes. Gotta find the money to do all the above stuff from somewhere! Good to see some ideas outside of "beg the government"
- Share TTFA’s funding with its members. This one sounds like an election promise. The TTFA is already strapped for cash and now they are going to have enough for national programmes and to distribute among members? Would be great if the association is actually in a position to pull this off though.
- All football Academies and Football Schools must be registered with the TTFA and staffed with qualified coaches. This is a tricky one and may cause some consternation in many communities. There is a genuine concern that any "good samaritan" can take a ball and start coaching kids in the neighbourhood savannah and it suddenly develops into a coaching school. While the intention is good, many times the person is not qualified and as such the kids may be taught some bad habits that become difficult to "unlearn" in later years, Having qualified coaches may help to properly harness talent from a younger age.
- Year round u-13, u-15,u-17 and a combined u-20 and u23 team that will be in training and playing international matches, with at least one overseas. Each year? Great idea! Is it really practical though with league football, school football, college schols, professional trials...and real jobs?
- More inclusion for Tobago in terms of scouting for players and pro-league involvement and hosting of tournaments and national team games. In addition, Tobago will be branded as a tourist destination for international clubs. Winter break holiday anyone?
- A national football training centre (and bus) with naming rights to be sold in order to generate revenue. (Manny Ramjohn to be used as the temporary home of football until then.)
There are a lot more ideas (or promises depending on your point of view) and you can go through the manifesto at your leisure here. What we do know is that on his first day on the job, DJW has already brought a level of peace to the bachanaal that enveloped the lady warriors during their recent CFU Olympic qualifiers as "Yaya" Cordner and Coach Waldrum are back in the fold, although marquee player Maylee Attin-Johnson is still on the outs. His next set of business was to meet with Coach Stephen Hart to ensure that all remains smooth on the Road to Russia and the upcoming playoff to be part of the Copa America Centenario Celebration.
DJW has big plans as he builds for the future. He has managed several multi-million dollar projects in his past as a business man. None would have been as scrutinised or delicate as the one before him now. The future of T&T football is at your feet David John-Williams. The pressure is now on you to uphold your promises. A nation is watching.