Retired national footballer Kenwyne Jones is calling on the local football administration to get its act together to ensure a bright future for football in this country and encourage more investment in the sport.
Jones, 33 years old, announced his retirement earlier this week from international and club football. The former national captain enjoyed an impressive career, playing for several clubs in England and represented the national senior team between 2003 and 2017. He scored 23 goals for TT in 82 appearances.
Jones, the senior voice in the TT squad for the past few years, said he was dissatisfied with local football administration during his career.
“Absolutely not,” he replied, when asked if he was happy with the TTFA’s running of football.
Jones said poor administration is not just an issue in football, but a problem in the country at large. “Administratively we need to start to have accountability, we need to take responsibility for a lot of stuff, we need to do better where administration is concerned. But that is not just only in the Federation (TT Football Association), that is around the country. We need a change where that is concerned. We need a change where the attitude is concerned towards everything that we do. Football is not a special case, it is just one of the cases out there and I do think we need to do better.”
Jones, who represented TT at the 2001 Under-17 World Cup held in TT, believes the country is not lacking in young talented footballers. However, he said more must be done to develop football and encourage youngsters to get involved. “I am happy for the talent that we have, I am happy for the youths that are going to be coming forward...I hope that they are able to work hard in the environment that they are in. Even though as a country we have had resources, I think limited resources were applied all-round in sport.”
Jones said investment has to take place in order to give the next generation of players a professional environment to succeed. Jones believes if football administration is improved in TT, investors will pump more money into the sport.
“One thing we have to remember as a country is that sport is privatised, it is not owned by the country. It is not supposed to be run by the Government. Government gives its assistance, but all these organisations (will invest) if we start doing things properly, being accountable, being responsible and productive, we may be able to attract the investment that we need to get and be able to push it forward.”
The payment of national footballers salaries has been a problem for years, as the TTFA has not paid players in a timely manner. Jones said it is a difficult situation especially for local-based players.
“It is very tough. You have a lot of guys out there not making a lot, and the extra money they make with the national team is something that helps to feed their families and take care of their lives.”
Jones, who was captain and had his biggest impact under former national coach Stephen Hart, said Hart was not given the resources to thrive. “I do believe, and this is no disrespect to any other coaches before, I do believe in witnessing stuff first-hand that he was treated unfairly and was not really allowed to do his job in the right way.”
Hart was hired as the coach of the national senior team in June 2013, but was fired in November 2016 after a disappointing start to the final round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying.