The sod was officially turned yesterday for a 72-room sports hotel in Couva which is expected to be completed by September next year. The “home of football” will be located at the eastern side of the National Cycling Velodrome, running parallel to the Solomon Hochoy Highway.
Addressing the gathering, an elated TTFA president, David John-Williams, said after 109 years, football in TT will finally have a home of its own. He also announced plans for a grassroots programme where the TTFA will team up with the Ministry of Education for a training programme targetting youths from five years old to nine years.
He explained that 2000 students from schools across the country will be selected for the initiative. John-Williams said 80 schools will be brought on board to start the programme and equipment will be provided, while coaching staff will come from the TT Pro League. Nu Iron a subsidiary of NUCOR will sponsor the initiative to the tune of US$100,000 for the first two years. TTFA will contribute a further $50,000 to the effort.
CONCACAF General Secretary, Philippe Moggio, complimented the TTFA on the football home, saying it will change football in TT and provide opportunities for young players. He said the sod-turning symbolises the rebirth of football in TT and praised John-Williams for his vision.
Also present at the historic occasion was Sports Minister Darryl Smith who hailed the venture and spoke of the positive effect the facility will have on the sports tourism thrust.
Dinanath Ramnarine, Chairman of the Sport Company of Trinidad and Tobago reiterated Smith’s sentiments and lauded the TTFA for putting the wheels in motion.
“It is a wonderful initiative that the TTFA as a sporting organisation to take that kind of bold step. David John-Williams and his team have to be congratulated. It demonstrates the direction he is attempting to take the organisation. Football has gone through a very difficult period over the years and David has certainly channelled his energies in taking football in a positive direction.”
Ramnarine said because of the location of the TTFA hotel, it should be able to sustain itself as it will generate income when teams from around the world come to not only play football but train or compete at the National Cycling Velodrome, Ato Boldon Stadium or National Aquatic Centre.
“Having a facility like that in Couva is fantastic because it supports the Cycling Velodrome and Aquatic Centre and is in keeping with the sporting hub in central Trinidad. It helps in the sport tourism. It’s a good idea and it’s turning out to be a quite a beautiful thing,” Ramnarine said.