Wednesday, 11 June 2014 22:14

Trinidad and Tobago gained favorable mentions quite a few times during the FIFA and CONCACAF Congress’ held at the Sheraton Hotel in Sao Paulo over the past two days.

Following it’s brave display against Argentina last Wednesday and a second outing against Iran in Sao Paulo on Sunday, this country has gained valuable recognition and despite the two consecutive defeats to the two World Cup participating countries, much good has been said about the efforts of the little country.

Among those sending commendation T&T’s way was Sunil Gulati, President of the United States Soccer Federation and member of the FIFA Executive Committee.

Gulati met with TTFA General Secretary Sheldon Phillips at the CONCACAF Congress and later spoke to TTFA Media.

“I think it’s an exciting time obviously as the confederation is moving forward in  number of different ways. We have had a long history with Trinidad and Tobago dating back to a long time. I’ve known Sheldon Phillips for a long time and I met Raymond Tim Kee a couple years ago. I think the Association is  in good hands and it’s exciting time for CONCACAF and the relationship between Trinidad and Tobago and the US

“We’re moving forward in a lot of way. It’s not just about the World Cup. The world is focused right now on this tournament. But we have growth in MLS, in player registrations, coaches, referees, television audiences and it’s on all those fronts and hopefully we can continue that trend,” Gulati told TTFA Media.

Commenting on the T&T team’s  recent outings, he added “They (Trinidad and Tobago are making progress I think that the organization and the team is going to get better over time. And clearly with Raymond and Sheldon there I think you will see a lot of positive changes. On the field they’ve always had some very good players and now with the organization support I think they’ll be a lot stronger. In March 2014, Gulati was unanimously re-elected to a record 3rd four year term as USSF president, and he is also a senior lecturer in Economics at the Columbia University.

TTFA President Raymond Tim Kee, who is in Sao Paulo for the Congress, said he was quite pleased with the run of events, noting the emphasis placed on development by CONCACAF.

“The news that is of interest to me and should of course be the same to the TTFA is  the decision by CONCACAF to introduce these development programs. Requests have been made by President Sepp Blatter to get involved and the criteria will now be somewhat different which will see countries like ours being able to benefit from these programs that we may not have had access to in the past,” Tim Kee said.

“I felt extremely happy, excited and enthusiastic about our future. We got a lot more praise than I expected. I did not expect that this much of my colleagues in CONCACAF and the wider FIFA population would have seen that game and would have come up with such praises.

“Mr Hart has to get a lot of kudos as everyone has indicated  satisfaction of seeing where we were before and the progress we’ve made since then.  If the trend continues to go upwards then there is definitely a lot to look forward to,” Tim Kee added.

“Of course there is a lot more work to be done and areas to be improved on back at home. We have various programs with the different teams to handle and ensure is off the ground. I expect that we will tackle all of these with urgency even with our little financial resources at this time . I am still optimistic that we will get things done in the right manner,” Tim Kee said

Earlier on Wednesday, FIFA President Sepp Blatter declared open of the 64th FIFA Congress in Sao Paulo as High-ranking officials from the world soccer governing body, its six confederations and 209 member associations attended the opening ceremony. During the evening, various Order of Merits were given, for Josephine King (OFC), Hassan Shehata (CAF), Mirabror Usmanov (AFC), Jozef Venglos (UEFA), Maria Coto (CONCACAF), Carlos Valderrama (CONMEBOL) and Antonio Mattarese (FIFA).