NATIONAL Olympic Committee president Brian Lewis disagrees that the Home of Football (HoF) in Couva should be sold to offset a large chunk of the TT Football Association’s (TTFA) harrowing $98.5 million debt.
A statement issued by the normalisation committee last week confirmed selling the HoF remains a possible option to aid TTFA’s financial recovery.
Lewis, however, thinks auctioning off the organisation’s most prized asset is a detrimental move. The HoF has an estimated value of over $42 million, but the land it was built on belongs to the government.
Selling the facility could almost halve the TTFA’s massive debt.
Lewis though, believes the HoF should not be used as payment as a result of years of financial mismanagement of the local football administration.
“When you look at it from a medium- to long-term perspective, I think every effort should be made for the TTFA to hold on to that asset.
“At the end of the day, owning assets is important. In this regard, every effort should be made. It’s a bit concerning, the talk about the sale of the HoF,” he said.
The HoF is surrounded by four of Trinidad’s major sporting facilities – the Ato Boldon Stadium, National Cricket Centre, National Aquatic Centre and National Cycling Centre.
The cycling arena is in the process of transitioning into a satellite centre – a special training hub for athletes coming from developing countries that will host training camps to nurture young athletes and help develop cycling in the region.
Sessions, athletes and coaches involved will follow a UCI-sanctioned programme. Cyclists will benefit from modern training schedules and tactics to help them reach world-class standards.
Both the cycling and swimming facilities were also constructed for foreign-based athletes to come to Trinidad to train and compete and by extension, to become self-sustainable.
Additionally, TT was set to host the 2021 Commonwealth Youth Games in August, but owing to the pandemic, the event has been postponed to a date yet to be announced. It remains uncertain if TT will retain its rights to host it.
Lewis added, “When we were having conversations with the Commonwealth Youth Games, the HoF, as an accommodation option, was factored in.
“(In) any conversation we’re having about sport tourism, and even conversations taking place with the local cycling federation, International Cycling Union, Sport Company of TT and the TT Olympic Committee, the HoF serves to provide accommodation for athletes using these facilities during competition. So the HoF is well placed.
“In that area, you will not only have a top-notch cycling centre but also a world-class swimming centre, and efforts can also be made to get that certified as a regional or continental centre of excellence.”
Lewis said the location of the HoF is important and believes it can generate income through sport tourism.
“Football should hold on to this asset, which, down the road, can generate sustainable revenue and income.
“Notwithstanding the TTFA’s current challenges and difficulties, people have to see it in the bigger picture.”
The HoF has 72 rooms, including double rooms and suites each fully equipped with Wi-Fi and television, as well as a conference room, cafeteria, medical room and team dining rooms.
A secondary building houses two dormitories, a main kitchen, dining room, changing rooms, laundry room and additional sleeping quarters for coaches. There are also three full-sized natural grass pitches.
On November 19, 2019, the HoF was opened by then-TTFA president David John-Williams.
Guests included the Prime Minister, FIFA president Gianni Infantino, Concacaf president Victor Montagliani and former French international Youri Djorkaeff.