...host delighted with visit

Sport and Youth Affairs Minister Darryl Smith provided early evidence on how he intends to approach his job when he made an impromptu visit to the studios of I95 on Saturday evening and took part in the weekly sports show hosted by the popular Andre Baptiste.

The programme, which started around 6.15 pm and included among the panel Guardian Sports Editor Valentino Singh, well known sports promoter Tony Harford and investigative sports reporter Lasana Liburd, was into its first ten minutes, when to the surprise of the quartet, the minister entered the studio and joined the discussion.

Pointing out that he was an avid follower of the programme, the minister who had just attended the Secondary Schools match between St Mary’s and St Anthony’s Colleges, gave a brief history of his involvement in sport as a national youth footballer, and pointed out that anyone who knew him would testify to his passion for sport.

The quartet was impressed at the ease with which Smith responded to their questions, promising that he intends to be in the ministry for the full five years.

“I don’t want my legacy to be about buildings. I want it to be about our athletes, not only those who are national athletes but all the young people who would want to use sport as a social tool to improve their lives.”

Reminded that sport and culture were the two major areas of the nation’s life that united the people, but which appeared to be treated as ‘lightweights’ by government, Smith said he has no doubt that under the current leadership of the new Prime Minister, Dr Keith Rowley, this would change.

“I believe that Dr Rowley, more than any other Prime Minister understands the value of sport. After all, he is still involved in sport almost on a daily basis through his love for golf. I am sure he knows what sport can do for a nation, and I have little doubt he will make sure we get as fair treatment as possible.”

Smith revealed that he was on the job minutes after being sworn into office. This included meeting with staff at both the Ministry of Sport and the Sports Company of T&T. “I toured all the floors, met everyone who was present and I think there is a sense of relief among the workers.”

Told by the panel that there appeared to be lots of tension and demotivated people at the Ministry, Smith promised to bring the work environment up to be acceptable standards, even if it meant relocating the ministry.

He promised to listen to the voice of stakeholders before making decisions, and to ensure that the legacy of the country’s sporting personalities received the respect it deserved through the national sports archives.

Told by Baptiste that most ministers appeared on his programme when they first come into office and then refused to return, Smith promised that he would be the exception.

“There is a lot to be done, I have no doubt, and at the end of my five years, I intend to be available to return for you all to judge me.”

The panellists later agreed that the minister’s decision to make his way to the studio was a refreshing move that augurs well for the future.

Baptiste noted it was the first time that a minister had exercised such an initiative, and he was surprised, pleased and looking forward to the Minister returning in the future.


Disgraced former FIFA official Jack Warner made a profit of around £11million on World Cup television rights that Sepp Blatter sold him for a fraction of their true value, it can be revealed.

Swiss television channel SRF has published a contract that Blatter signed off in 2005 for the broadcast rights for South Africa 2010 and Brazil 2014 to be sold to the Warner-controlled Caribbean Football Union (CFU) for $600,000.

Investigations by Press Association Sport have shown that Warner, at that time CFU's president, sub-licensed those rights to his own Cayman Islands-registered company J & D International (JDI). In 2007, JDI sold on the rights to Jamaica-based cable TV station SportsMax for a value that the broadcaster reported on its own website as being between $18million and $20million.

The revelations highlight the questionable relationship between the outgoing FIFA president Blatter and Warner, his one-time backer and Caribbean powerbroker.

According to court documents in the Cayman Islands, Jeffrey Webb - Warner's successor as president of the CONCACAF confederation - was a director of JDI at the time of the deal. Both Webb and Warner are facing corruption charges in the United States.

FIFA's deal with the CFU included an agreement for a 50 per cent share of any profits from sub-contracting the rights but few if any payments from profit share were ever made by Warner and in July 2011, a month after he resigned from FIFA following bribery allegations, FIFA terminated its contract with the CFU.

It was not the first time FIFA had given Warner TV rights for a knockdown price - in 1998 he was awarded the 2002 World Cup TV rights for Trinidad and Tobago for just one dollar, a practice that had begun under Blatter's predecessor Joao Havelange.

Warner's JDI also sold the 2006 World Cup rights to the Caribbean for $4.25million in 2001.

Warner is currently fighting extradition from Trinidad to the USA where he has been indicted by the US justice department on football-related corruption charges.

US attorney general Loretta Lynch is due to provide the latest details on the FIFA investigation at a news conference in Zurich on Monday. Webb is currently on bail in New York, as is former FIFA member Chuck Blazer who has admitted to taking a share of a 10million dollar bribe to vote for South Africa to host the 2010 World Cup.

Swiss attorney general Michael Lauber is also due to speak at the news conference to give details on the separate investigation into the 2018 and 2022 World Cup votes.

The SRF programme published a contract signed by Blatter showing the TV rights for the 2010 World Cup had been sold for $250,000 and the 2014 tournament for $350,000 to the Warner-controlled CFU.

FIFA responded by issuing a statement saying: "On 12 September 2005, FIFA signed a contract with the Caribbean Football Union regarding TV broadcasting rights.

"Under the terms of this agreement FIFA was to receive a fixed licensing fee as well as a 50 per cent share of any profits related to the subcontracting of these rights.

"The CFU made several breaches to the contract and failed to meet its financial obligations. The obligations concerning the required pre-approval for subcontracting were not met either.

"For these reasons, FIFA terminated its contract with the CFU on 25 July 2011."


David Nakhid, got the full backing of  T&T Football Association (TTFA) to be the next FIFA president.

A unanimous decision was taken by the TTFA Executive Committee on Thursday evening to support the former National Senior Team captain. The former Grasshoppers FC midfielder met with members of the TTFA for discussions on his bid to be the next FIFA President which he launched last month.

The TTFA, led by president Raymond Tim Kee, reviewed the manifesto for change proposed by Nakhid and believes it provides the basis for a fresh start for FIFA. The local governing body believes that it is the right time for new blood to be brought in and that Nakhid is capable of leading the world governing body.

 “At a meeting of the Executive Committee on Thursday, there was a unanimous decision taken to back Mr Nakhid in the next FIFA Presidential election. We are one for improved governance and transparency at FIFA and it is our belief that Mr Nakhid has the right intentions and qualities for the position,” Tim Kee said.

 “The focus now has to be on the best interest of the region and the world. The  executive committee was impressed by Mr Nakhid's vision for the development of Caribbean football and he displayed the best understanding of the unique needs and great potential of the region.”

Nakhid, who is based in Lebanon where he runs the David Nakhid International Football School, needs the backing of five national associations in order to be a candidate. The TTFA is now among those associations that will be backing the 51-year-old American University graduate.

Nakhid also met with members of the Caribbean Football Union last month to gather support.

With just six months to go before FIFA elects a new president, the pool of candidates has grown to seven. The other men in the race are France’s Michel Platini, Jordan’s Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein,  former Nigerian player Segun Odegbami, Chung Mong-Joon of South Korea, former Brazilian player Zico and Musa Bility of Liberia.

The election to find a successor to Sepp Blatter will be held in Zurich on February 26.


Three-time Olympic medallist Richard Thompson says the opportunity to partner with sports drink manufacturer Gatorade to host yesterday’s inaugural sprinting camp in his name was a huge boast for his career. Some 100 emerging athletes from major clubs and schools across the country turned out for the Gatorade Richard Thompson Sprinting Camp held at the outfield at the Hasley Crawford Stadium in Mucurapo, Port-of-Spain.

In a T&T Guardian interview the champion athlete cited the hunger he developed for new information about his sport just over two years ago, which guided him along the path to conceptualise and execute this clinic. In his view, it was part of his natural progression.

“I know where my head was a couple years ago, how much knowledge I wanted; how hungry I was for knowledge; how hungry I was to get better; and I know these kids are no different from me. I know there are a lot of people who see people like (Usian) Bolt and Maurice Greene and LaShawn Merritt and some of the top names and feel they want to be like them.

This is my way of assisting them to achieve that dream and to achieve that goal, but having these camps and giving them insight into things that could allow them to be better on a daily basis, that could allow them to be better in competition. 

“And, who knows what this would lead to? If it’s as simple as them qualifying for Carifta Games and the regional meets; or going to a (foreign) university and doing better. It may mean becoming professionals from secondary school, but which ever way we could assist and try to get people better, it’s important to us. I’m extremely glad to associated with something like that,” he said.  

“I think it’s very important that we focus on the young talent in T&T. Keston Bledman and I have to have people continue to fly the flag when we decide that we are going to hang up our spikes. This is just part of the process-molding the young ones, giving insight into some of the things they may not be privy too or have any knowledge at all about-including things like strengthen and conditioning.”

Gregory Seale from Movement Mechanics enlightened emerging athletes on the two previous areas of training as well as nutrition during yesterday’s session. Thompson lamented that because proper nutrition usually had no place in programmes designed by young athletes and their parents, but declared if they did not eat right to fuel their bodies the right way then the hard work they put in was null and void.

Shane Cooper, meanwhile, an athlete development and sports performance specialist from Altis Performance Evolution brought his experience as an assistant sprint coach from a US-based educational facility to bear. Thompson said establishing himself as a brand synonymous with educating and nurturing in sport was crucial for him.

“It is something I’ve always wanted to do-to help kids out-because again every time I talk somewhere, every time I give a motivation speech, I talk about the impact that Ato Boldon had on me in primary school, coming into Newtown Boy’s...just his presence! This guy went to the same school as me, he is from the same country as me and here he is an Olympic medallist. Why can’t I do it too? 

“This camp was to give kids hope, by me not only sharing stories with them and motivating them, but allowing them to interact with me going through the exercises and drills and accelerations; the stuff that I do as a professional,” Thompson said.


Central FC picked up from where it left off last season as defender Andre Ettienne rewarded his new employers with a match-winning goal in a 1-0 win to dethrone three-time holders W Connection to lift the 2015/2016 season opener, Digicel Charity Shield at the Ato Boldon Stadium, Couva on Friday night.

The win handed Central, last season’s seven-title winners, their first ever Charity Shield after coming up short in the encounter against the same opponents last year, by the same 1-0 margin. It was also retribution for new Central FC coach Ross Russell, who was on the losing end as Defence Force coach, 2-0 and 4-2 in the 2012 and 2013 Charity Shield, respectively.

W Connection, who had two decent attempts in the opening moments, had an excellent opportunity to take the lead in the 24th minute after midfielder Jomal Williams was tripped in the Centr­al box by Kaydion Gabriel, forcing match referee Rodphin Harris to point to the spot, however defender and captain Alvin Jones struck over from the penalty spot, failing to trouble Central goalkeeper Jan-Michael Williams,

Then Plaza, set free behind the defence by a classic Marvin Oliver pass, wasted his strike in the 34th minute with Archibald at his mercy as he fired straight at the W Connection and St Kitts/Nevis international before teammate Joseph rattled the upright from distance a minute later. Just before the interval, W Connection almost took the lead, but with Williams beaten, defender Kaydien Gabriel was on spot to make a goal line clearence.

On the resumption both teams struggled to gain the upper hand until Central FC took the lead in the 69th minute with what turned out to be the decisive item from an unlikely source. The 25-year-old Ettienne took time in settling himself before spanking a low strike from the top of a crowded 18-yard box to find Archibald’s bottom right corner following a right side corner swung in by substitute Jason Marcano.

Speaking after the match a delighted Russell said, “I feel honoured. I made it to the Charity Shield twice before and lost. Now I have won it over the same club that beat me twice. I am confident now to go forward and do my job. “I’ve adopted a winning team that won four major titles last season but lost this one. Now it’s good that the players came back this season to win it.”

Russell also made it into the history books of Central FC by kicking off his tenure with a title in his very first domestic match as coach of the “Couva Sharks” while becoming the only coach to avoid defeat in his first “Couva Clasico” against rival club W Connection – something previous Central FC coaches Graham Rix, Terry Fenwick and Zoran Vranes were unable to achieve. Fenwick and Vranes were present at the Couva venue and witnessed Russell’s win.

Central won four major titles (First Citizens Cup, Digicel Pro League, Caribbean Club Championship and Digicel Pro Bowl) and the Rawle Fletcher, Akeem Adams and Kevon Carter trophies for winning each round of the league and now their title ways have rolled over on the domestic front at the start of the 2015/2016 season.

With regards to his new signing Ettienne, Russell: “Since he arrived at the club he has been brilliant. He is a great striker of the ball and tonight he had a go at it and he scored. I am very happy for him. He got ‘Most Valuable Player’ of the match and it’s another good boost on his head. A new boy coming to the club and he is already winning stuff.”

Central and W Connection will refocus on the for their second leg matches of the 2015/2016 Concacaf Champions League before the start of the 2015/2016 Digicel Pro League later this month.

W Connection will tackle Saprissa of Costa Rica on Wednesday before wrapping up their Group A fixtures against Mexico’s Santos Laguna on September 22 while Central must host Guatemala’s Comunicaciones on Thursday then LA Galaxy of the USA September 23 to complete their Group D fixtures. All matches are hosted at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, Mucurapo.


Botswana and the Bahamas have joined Canada and Scotland in expressing an interest in hosting the 2017 Commonwealth Youth Games, insidethegames has been told.

The two countries have been in contact with the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) about the prospect of bringing the event to their respective countries, with both now set to hold Governmental talks to decide whether to officially enter the race.

Countries have until the end of September to express an interest before formal candidacies must be declared by the end of October.

insidethegames also understands the Canadian city being proposed as their candidate is Edmonton, who withdrew from the race for the 2022 Commonwealth Games, eventually awarded to sole bidder Durban.

A decision on the 2017 host is reportedly going to be made by the CGF at its Executive Board meeting set for January, although the official date and location is yet to be decided.

Botswana’s capital Gabarone recently hosted the African Youth Games, where around 2,000 athletes from 51 countries competed in 21 sports.

Bahamas meanwhile also has a history of staging major sporting competitions as capital city Nassau played host to the 2014 and 2015 International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) World Relays.

St Lucia, awarded the event in November 2011, decided they were not in a fit state to bring the Games to the Carribbean in two years’ time due to doubts over venues and financial concerns, particularly over the lack of a stadium to host athletics.

A fire had caused severe damage to a hospital in the south of the island, meaning the George Odlum Stadium in Vieux-Fort, which contained the country's only IAAF-accredited track, had been adapted into a temporary medical facility.

“On the back of a hugely successful Youth Games in Samoa we are in positive preliminary discussions with a number of members about hosting future editions of the Games,” CGF spokesperson said.

“Importantly, any aspiring host will need to undertake detailed engagement with respective partners and governments before confirming their intention.

“The formal call for bids for 2017 will commence shortly as agreed at last week's General Assembly.”

The news comes following the conclusion of the 2015 Games here, the success of which prompted newly-elected CGF President Louise Martin to claim that the event had "got everyone talking" about the Commonwealth Youth Games as a concept.

Around 900 athletes competed for 107 medals in nine sports at Samoa 2015, which has yielded positive reaction from participants and delegates alike, particularly due to the impressive set of venues which were used for the Games.