Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : January 10th 2017 Contents A38 sports
guardian.co.tt Tuesday, January 10, 2017
Gymnastics body wants Williams case thrown out
The T&T Gymnastics Fed-
eration (TTGF) is seeking to
have gymnast Thema Williams'
multi-million dollar lawsuit
against it struck out before it
even reaches to trial.
During a case management con-
ference of the case held at Port-
of-Spain High Court yesterday
the TTGF's lawyer Justin Junkere
submitted that Williams should
not have been allowed to bring the
lawsuit as other methods of chal-
lenging the federation's handling
of her Olympic bid last year were
available to her.
Junkere referred to the federa-
tion's internal constitutional which
he said prescribes dispute resolu-
tion in situations such as Williams'
Head of Williams' legal team
Martin Daly, SC, asked presiding
Judge Frank Seepersad for addi-
tional time to respond in writing
to Junkere's application and was
granted the extension.
Seepersad stated that the issue
must be resolved before the case is
allowed to proceed and adjourned
to April 25, when he is expected to
deliver his decision.
The controversial dispute be-
tween the athlete and the feder-
ation began after Williams was
replaced by Marissa Dick to rep-
resent this country at the Olympic
Test Event at Rio de Janeiro event
in April. Her initial selection was
based on her performance at the
World Artistic Gymnastics Cham-
pionship in Glasgow, Scotland on
October 23, 2015, where she placed
higher than Dick.
Williams claimed that her coach
John Geddert was informed by the
federation that she was withdrawn
because she was injured, a claim
which she denies. Alternate athlete
Dick was selected to participate in
the event instead and eventually
qualified becoming the first person
to represent T&T in gymnastics at
Last February, photographs of
both Williams and Dick posing
topless were posted on social media
websites and were sent to the fed-
eration. The photos were allegedly
broadcast by the mother of another
gymnast, who claimed that they
should not represent T&T.
In her claim for $11.38 million
in damages, Williams is claiming
compensation for her "loss of op-
portunity" and damage to her per-
sonal and professional reputation
allegedly caused by the "harsh and
oppressive" actions of the federa-
Her attorneys are contending
that by failing to be given an op-
portunity to qualify for the last
year's Olympics in Rio de Janeiro
in Brazil, she suffered a huge loss of
opportunity of endorsements, mo-
tivational speaking engagements
and repeated business opportu-
nities as well as a full scholarship
to the Michigan State University,
which she forewent in her bid to
represent T&T at event. Williams
is also being represented by Keith
Saintfiet: Not enough time
National coach Belgian Tom
Saintfiet sought to cover him-
self by admitting that he did not
have sufficient time to prepare
the team properly for the Car-
ibbean Football Union/Conca-
caf Gold Cup play-off qualifiers
against Suriname and Haiti.
At a post match press conference
the coach who took over from Ste-
phen Hart about three weeks ago,
said he had just two weeks to pre-
pare a team ahead of the tourna-
ment, conceding defeats to Nicara-
gua 2-1 in a friendly, Suriname 2-1
and Haiti 4-3 out of four matches.
T&T defeated Nicaragua 3-1.
The 43-year-old Belgian ex-
plained the country's best coach
ever Leo Beenhakkker had three
months before his first qualifying
match and lost three out of the first
five games the team played.
He told the media that a number
of top international players, whom
he depended upon, were invited for
the play-offs but did not show up
for one reason or another. "We in-
vited Khaleem Hyland, Jomal Wil-
liams, Levi Garcia, John Bostock,
Kevin Molino, Joevin Jones, Cordell
Cato and Mikheil Williams.
So we invited a lot of players
who did not make for several rea-
sons, because it was not a FIFA
date or personally was not ready
to perform for the team. But it has
consequences, if you have a lot of
good players missing before such
an important game."
"Ten days before the first of Jan-
uary I spoke face to face with Joevin
Jones and informed him to take a
few days off and on the first of Jan-
uary I expect to see you in camp. It
is not the coach who invites players
but the general secretary, except
what I did for Joevin."
According to Saintfiet, "On the
otherside in the two weeks time of
working with the team, the boys
grew as they worked very hard
and I think the local people have
discovered some very good local
players who they never expected
to play at this level.
So I have had good experiences
of working with the boys and can
assure that some of the boys would
squad in the future."
The team gave a fighting per-
formance which Saintfiet said he
could not fault them for generally,
but noted he was very disappointed
with the blunders that prevented
them from winning the match. He
pointed out that the team led twice
in the match and created many op-
He claimed that with the game
at 2-apiece it seem like the players
did not want to score to take the
"In extra-time I saw three good
chances, one by Cornell Glenn
, one by Winchester who had an
excellent game and another one"
He lashed out at the defensive
part of the team, saying it is un-
acceptable to concede three four
goals. "Haiti scored from two
corners and a free-kick and two
of those goal were unacceptable."
Waiting on John
The second effort by our new
look national football pro-
gramme has been completed
in a manner which can provide
a review of some kind as to the
success or lack of it.
Coach Tom Saintfiet has had much
of the players, home based and for-
eign, not only on the field of play,
but off it as well.
In a crowded four match pro-
gramme, our national team's per-
formance fluctuated from match
to match, leaving the fans and also
the administration with a complexed
impression regarding the quality of
team and management.
Maybe a lot of "off the field" ac-
tivity had affected certain aspects
of the exercise, where the question
of discipline, inappropriate com-
ments from all stakeholders and
faulty management could all have
produced a picture of its own.
The chosen players during the
period saw locals being projected
among the more advanced ones and
in certain cases, creating a positive
standard for themselves, while the
foreign based stars may not have
faced the new image with the seri-
ousness it deserved.
The structural formula regarding
systems of play was never recognised
as organised as good as was needed,
and occasional skill and creativity
was noticed on the basis of individ-
ual output as opposed to collective
The fact that we were defeated on
three occasions, twice in the official
Gold Cup competition, did not allow
the coaching staff any reasonable
excuse, simply because the attitude,
level of understanding the game, the
instructions of the coaching staff or
the inability of the pros and ama-
teurs to adjust effectively all seemed
What seemed more visually ob-
vious was the selection processes
which were made regularly with-
out bringing any improvement to
the quality of our game.
I suppose that we are forced into
commending Suriname and Haiti,
both of which outplayed our team
and also to demonstrate the tactical
display of instructions given by their
The inclusion of some veteran
players may have been beneficial
in the very short term, but the two
muscular injuries which affected
both Carlos Edwards and Cornell
Glen lent some guidance as to the
disadvantage of age in the compet-
itive world of football.
Pockets of ill-discipline were not
helpful to the players or the team and
appeared to have been unacceptable
by the coach.
These were all part of the reason
for failure to give the success which
we expected, add to that the use-
less forms of communication which
affected the smooth running of the
media by placing complaints and
accusations which were not even
related to the game itself.
It would be unfair not to con-
gratulate Shahdon Winchester for
scoring a hat-trick on his birthday,
an occasion which he will probably
cherish for the rest of his life.
And finally, coach Saintfiet, how
would he describe the performanc-
es of the team as opposed to his in-
structions on and off the field?
Moreso, how would David John
Williams react to the reasons or ex-
cuses which he may put forward for
the failure to achieve his goal? Will he
retain his opinion that these matches
will lead positively to the Mexico and
Panama World Cup activity?
What about us the public? Are we
convinced that better days ahead or
should we redirect the course of fu-
ture events by changing the guards
and the generals, invest into new
ideas and look at the progress as a
long term project which would allow
the promising youngsters to develop
within an environment which will
place them into a comfort zone sur-
rounded by the culture of the people,
the task of guiding the minds of the
players, and providing the country
with a plan which may well gain the
ascendency which our youth pro-
grammes from the 2004 - 2012 era.
Finally, we need to change our
colonial belief that the foreigner is
We must understand that the ma-
jority of our star players of yester-
year were not because of the foreign
coaches but by the extraordinary tal-
ent which they nurtured and attract-
ed the world with a ball at their feet.
There is no need for a blame game,
but more so, as to the search of or-
ganised education and extensive
coaching all year round. The next
two months could be a nightmare
for our football.
David John Williams, TTFA President.
T&T coach Tom Saintfiet giving instructions during Sunday's match
against Haiti at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva. T&T lost the match
4-3. PHOTO: ANTHONY HARRIS.
Head of Thema Williams' legal
team, Martin Daly, SC.
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