FIFA Development Officer Howard McIntosh paid a visit to this country on Friday during which time he attended meetings with officials of the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association and the Minister of Sport Brent Sancho.
McIntosh described the meetings as significant and expressed his satisfaction with the outcome of the discussions with the Sports Minister which he said augurs well for the future of the local game and the relationships among the various parties including FIFA, CONCACAF, the TTFA and the Government.
“We are very happy to meet the new Minister of Sport. It’s greater see one of our world class players from the Caribbean going on to become a Minister and we are proud of that fact. We took the opportunity to discuss the Goal Project, and other programmes and the possibilities of collaboration between the TTFA and the Government and of course FIFA and CONCACAF,” McIntosh said.
He revealed that Sancho was supportive of the establishment of the National Training Centre in Marabella, close to the Manny Ramjohn Stadium and efforts are ongoing to have the land provided for the construction of the facility.
“The Minister is very supportive of the efforts. We are going to work together to see what can be done very quickly with the Goal Project being one of the immediate initiatives and looking at possible collaborations with community-type activities along with the grassroots and women’s programmes,” McIntosh said. “The Minister confirmed in the meeting the immediate need to have a national technical centre and he understands it especially with his background and that’s a very positive sign for us.
What we have to do now is to ensure that whatever information he needs to get the Goal Project situation dealt with, he gets it so that we can move forward,” he added.
Sancho described the initiative and the partnership with the TTFA as “exciting” and said he was pleased with the way the discussions went on Friday.
“The Goal project is an exciting initiative not just for the development of football locally but across the region. It will create local employment during the construction phases as well as when the facility becomes fully operational. The sectors that will be engaged will run the gambit from athlete support services, hospitality, facilities management and even transportation services,” Sancho stated.
The minister, a former National footballer, did emphasise that it was important that the TTFA continued its efforts to ensure accountability and transparency, particularly during this Goal Project initiative.
“While the potential of the Goal Project is extremely exciting we must continue to ensure that there is accountability and transparency in all transactions involving State funds and resources” FIFA Development officer Gregory Englebrecht, during a two-day visit to Trinidad and Tobago last August, met with officials of the TTFA and made site visits to the potential location for a National Football Training Centre in Marabella, near to the Manny Ramjohn Stadium.
Englebrecht, who is a senior manager for development for the Americas, stated that FIFA approved funding to the tune of US$500,000 for the establishment of a National Training Centre through the FIFA Goal Project.
Englebrecht stated that the funding would be accessible by the TTFA once the association can enter into a lease agreement with the Government for use of the property.
“FIFA makes available US$500,000 which can be invested into the project. We have certain conditions and one of them is that the property has to be a lease agreement, usually with Government, for use of the property for a minimum of 25-30 years so that it can be developed and that it will benefit football in the country for a long period.
“The location is close to the Manny Ramjohn Stadium which is a quite a large area with capacity for four to five fields. This is very good and if the TTFA can coordinate with the Government all the arrangements and paperwork necessary to get access to this area, then we can help them develop it into a very useful modern facility for Trinidad and Tobago football,” Englebrecht stated.