Recently the world governing body of football FIFA decided to step in and insert a normalisation committee into the Trinidad & Tobago Football Association. The ousted administration is angry and is taking legal action and the others lurk like vultures waiting to see the outcome of this and eventually capitalize. Past and present regimes are all weighing in and spitting venom at each other which is completely epitomizing the completely chaotic football environment. The clashing of ego’s, court cases, former corrupt officials and news reports distract from a very sobering fact that in the midst of all this a chilling fact remains that a generation of youth simply has absolutely no interest in the local game. Empty stadiums for both local club football and international football is the result, the youth have spoken!
Years ago it was a foregone conclusion that an international match would be filled with people, the stadiums were packed and the oblivious fans had no idea (or choose not to) see that many greedy individuals were lining their pockets and pillaging the game we know and love instead of nurturing a future of prosperity. Many articles and books have been written about this explaining in great detail but the fact remains that these individuals who were enjoying the benefits of corruption are still very much involved in all aspects of football today. Anyone who dared question or attempted to change this was either brandished as unprofessional or accused of not being important enough in football circles to be acknowledged. Many hypocritically stood on pretentious moral ground, portraying themselves as false prophets and saviours of the game but were guilty of putting on a facade that only worked because the audience, the people that fuel the game stopped caring. While these individuals were drunk in their arrogance and selfishness the crowds walked away. When children, teenagers and young adults are asked about Trinidad & Tobago football are asked about football their is not even anger but an absence of a reaction, they simply do not care. What is the response to this by our highly qualified out of touch people responsible for this game? “They don’t love football!” or “They don’t understand how football works!” or the quite overused condescending one “Who are you?”
The people who have had the reigns on Trinidad & Tobago football have attempted in the last several years to feign sincerity and tried to rebrand themselves but unfortunately, the very same people that they looked down on see right through the facade. They educated themselves on their own and drew their own conclusions and simply realized that the actions of these people have ruined our football at such a level that it is not worth any sort of effort whatsoever. The few that did attempt to challenge this were quickly cast aside by the network that does not want to let go. Why would any child now who is bombarded with information all over the planet and high-quality sports want to waste their time on an association that basically is just a bunch of old men shouting at each other? They simply just move on to the next thing and rightfully so.
The coaches, the administrators try to rule the game by fear and intimidation. The few kids that are trying to make something of themselves are misinformed, illtreated and see with their very own eyes the utter lack of professionalism taking place before their eyes. The retort they are confronted is that no one loves the game as much as they do, like many domestic cases the abuser often believes that the acts done are acts of love even if they are in fact destroying the very thing that they supposedly care about. If you approach many people in the younger age bracket they can barely name the 2006 World Cup squad that made history. Hanging on to nostalgia but not nurturing growth has been the biggest characteristic of our football environment. Many of these sporting role models have tarnished their reputation by trying to be morally ambiguous and the result is utter disinterest from the upcoming generations. The world has changed and information is readily available, it is very difficult to hide behind celebrity personas now like it was in the past.
How do we fix this problem is a question that has been asked by many before. Everyone is clearly aware of what the issues are and have been utterly frustrated by the lack of conviction by those who tried to carry the flag of change. Countless individuals are bought off by being given trinkets so that they develop a dependency syndrome. The unfortunate result of this are voices that become silent and masking cowardice as diplomacy and professionalism to ensure they stay employed. The task at hand is quite a monumental one and it seems the only way out of this is a complete cleansing of all involved. New people untainted by the previous regimes must be the key in a new beginning. The method of trying to start anew by keeping some of the so-called experienced people have only caused further regression and this has to stop. Football simply cannot get a well in the same environment that got it sick in the first place. There is no short cut method to this and it will take individuals of strong intellectual and moral fibre, these individuals will have to be able to endure enormous amounts of unfounded criticism from the removed parties for a long time. If and when this happens getting people to fall back into actually caring will be a monumental feat that will take some very valiant individuals to take the helm.
So when the football fraternity moaned about not having money and pointed fingers at each other they failed to understand winning the fans back was important and it was not just about winning games but doing things the right way. The assumption that getting a few wins would bring back the “Glory days” was arrogance at its finest. Titles, rank and position are thrown around as if these things are ingredients for integrity but while these individuals argue about their relevance in football there is a generation of people out there that don’t even know their names and when they seek adoration and validation for their perceived status they will be greeted by a cruel, indifferent, silence. The world has bigger problems than seeing relics squabble about who is less corrupt. With everyone trying to deal with the horrid COVID-19 virus by sanitization and quarantine maybe the same should be done for Trinidad & Tobago football.
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