Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Criminal Backlash from Jail

    Five years before he - and two others-broke out of the Port of Spain prison  in a daring Friday afternoon  jail break, using guns smuggled into the prison, on July 25th, 2015, Hassan Atwell  spoke openly of the festering sore that is the prison system inTrinidad. his was Published on November 19th 2010. I have reproduced this article (1) for his children to know that his life was not in vain (2) to show that  the  consultations on prison reform are nothing but a charade. 

Read On;
"Deep down inside a man he wants what is good for himself and for the people at large. Nobody can deny that. That's the word coming from the bowels of the Remand Yard at the Port of Spain Prison where Hasan Attwell is incarcerated awaiting extradition on a  charge of kidnapping  US citizen, Videsh Mohan in South Trinidad in 2005. 
While noting the efforts of the State to curb crime. including the three-strikes legislation which will jail repeat gun offenders for life, Atwell is lamenting the fact that no real attention is being paid to the prison system which is breeding criminals.
"Yes there has been an increase in crime but in most cases it's just that offenders are lashing back after being taken advantage of in prison; when they get the upper hand they do the sane to fellow citizens," he said in a letter to this journalist.
"The saddest part is that society is not even aware that this is the root of all crime. When you want to come out of a life of crime sometimes you have so many scars from the injustice of police, the treatment while in prison;sometimes knowing that you are innocent so you end up just lashing out.
"The people of society are  willing to forgive, but are they willing to do what is necessary to change the mind of the person who was once a criminal?
We complain everyday that crime is the problem which is affecting the economy as well.
 But if we identify that crime is the problem why are we pumping money into one area; taking care of the police is not the only thing.
"The prison is the best place to reform a man. If we reform the prisoners they will return to society in a better condition than they were sent in and subsequently the police work will become easier in that there will be less repeat offenders and we will most certainly see a decrease in crime at a rapid rate,
"The conditions in jail are already deplorable and so inhumane that it cannot hep to reform a person. "They think that we deserve to be treated like this.
"But in jail a man's freedom is taken away, it is already a great punishment not to to see our loved ones or hug our children. We are already paying the price of our freedom Why wont they try their best to reform prisoners not just for our sake but for their sake as well so that they can return to society and be of value.
" History has proven that people come out of prison and make a valuable contribution. It is like modern day slavery if they have no consideration for us we will have no consideration for them; the way you treat people is the way they will treat others.     
" Look at how a man has to relieve himself when nature calls in front of people with no privacy which is also unsanitary.
"They have placed mats on the floor of the prison cells that have been there for years collecting dirt, bacteria and germs which are not washed or changed.
"How could people be reformed living under these conditions?
"We are granted airing for an hour a day and within this hour we have  access to toilets, showers and to wash our clothes. What could you do in an hour?
"Some men line up to use the toilets instead of using the pails in their cells. Everything is a hustle. "Imagine a constipated  prisoner gets a chance to go to the toilet with a long line of men waiting behind him; he makes his situation worse when he forces himself.
"Even though the system has bene successful in reforming some prisoners mentally their health will be no good because they do not get proper exercise and sunlight. The society destroys its people by  paying no heed to their cry. In return the people hit back at society for being neglected. 
"People in society who are stronger and more educated have to lend a helping hand; religion in prison is playing a very important part. Religion brings the mind to a high level of consciousness that a person's mind acts as a police for him. 
"When the mind reaches such a conscious state we do not need to have a police officer looking down at him. His mind keeps him in check. Bt even that is not being used to keep the prisoners in check. 

"There are many prison officers who understand the situation because most times what affects us affects them. Imagine in this day it is a man's job to come to work and open a gate for a man to go with a bucket of pee to throw away. Officers complain when they leave their clothes smell like the jail and that is just one of the ways in which they are affected. 
"As I get older I am seeing things differently, if I could change the life of one person who knows he could have been  heading to commit a crime that would kill my wife or children, if I reform this person, I save my wife or children. Many people do not volunteer to become criminals; some people are molested when they are young and there are other things that affect people at different stages in their lives that makes them go down the road to begin a criminal it is the resentment that is fostered which the people in power fail to recognize. 
"If they take this seriously into consideration when dealing with crime, then they can help a whole lot of offenders," Atwell ended.

Monday, 14 October 2013

             .. who's ready for the road?

      Jack the strategist: If Ian Alleyne is going to represent the Partnership, why not put Oma Lalla against him? After all the man who's known how to wheel and deal, successfully, at international levels, knows, as Bob Marley sang " How you're gonna get some food, Your brother's got to be your enemy."  So Jack can kill two birds with one stone.  He can put Om Lalla on the spot and get him to choose sides, given that Om and Ian seemed to be tighter than Jack and Om. If the Independent Liberal Party (ILP) stands a chance to win this seat it will be only because there is indeed a landslide, as some believe ,given the size of the crowds on the green bandwagon. So whoever Jack puts there, ought to win, if that is the trend.  It is easy to assume that even if he only succeeds in pulling votes away from the Partnership, handing it over to the People's National Movement (PNM), Jack will be satisfied. But it’s not that simple because he will certainly be pulling votes from the PNM, the unapologetic creators of the eat-ah–food culture which the vultures that hide under the cloak of the Partnership have taken to new “heights.”   So the PNM and the United National Congress (UNC), make the same difference.  And then there is Kamla.  Poor woman.  She got the job riding a wave of support of people who had a right to demand better and she was the only alternative.  And, too, because no one was man enough to take it, in the first place.  
On the other hand, there is Jackology.
 If the former FIFA Vice President is honest with himself- and the rest of us by extension- he should know that given this opportunity, a second chance by Trinbagonians, that he should not run an entire political party albeit one with more than 100, 000 members as he claims on the platforms, just like the Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation, (TTFF) (now changed to the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association, (TTFA), under new management) his vehicle to international infamy.
 That is just one of the burning issues which he has not addressed on his platforms as he wades into a Local Government Elections with a green army of more than 100, but with no structure, at all, within the organisation.
 Even if he wants us to believe that he is being pushed by this national wave and is going with the tide, then he must start by doing it right.
There must be the semblance of order.  It is a sincere thing. Constitutions are laid down for checks and balances, but in this dispensation checks and balances amount to “paper” as the hungry folks are calling it and there’s a feeding frenzy on the ground.  Greed is the new national culture, by and large.
But he ain’t ready for the road.
And Chaguanas West could turn out to be his equivalent of T&T’s 2006 qualification for the World Cup in Germany, being the smallest country to do so at the time, when it was most needed for Jack who for years that been climbing the FIFA executive ladder having been  the only man to rise from our football tragedy of 1990 as we slumped into a  national depression  and had to be satisfied with seeing  our best footballers  play themselves all over the international stage, (like Dwight Yorke’s   inspiring run with Manchester United ) with the red, white and black nowhere in sight.
 Nevertheless, the ring dong battle between Om and Ian is a certain distraction from these, among other issues which the Kamla must deal with is she is to make an honourable exit from the stage.  
 Madame PM has already decided her fate.  Backing down and out – and not accepting gracefully- the results of the Chaguanas West by election, refusing to face the people – none of whom had stained their finger in her former stronghold of Chaguanas West -was a clear sign that she did not find the warrior spirit, if indeed she had taken the time to dig deep inside herself, below the charade of politics in T&T.  Instead, she was taken by the charlatans around her, the people who line up to meet  her after she makes public appearances, who give advice  based on what they dream, foresee and other levels of deceit that may even amount to necromancy. Just as the Congress of the People (COP) failed to capitalise on the goodwill it had engendered along the east west corridor in 2010, the UNC has failed miserably at making sincere contact with its ground troops.
 So that is why, given the fact that Attorney General Anand Ramlogan seems to be  her prime strategist, ( his intervention, via telephone,  to get Ian Alleyne on board  smells like the Sec 34 email-gate) we will be in for a ring dong battle.
  What you won’t hear, at all, however, is about the white collar criminals in the midst, some of whom are party financiers on all three sides. Ian and Om will rip at each other’s throats in an emotional battle. And the high level gangsters will laugh all the way until they close the feeding trough and you are left with your finger stained and another empty bowl in front of you.
  Who set the tone?  Is it Jack, is it Anand? Six of one, half a dozen of the other?
 Even if she has no control over Jack, can’t the PM, as a grandmother and mother, try to set a different tone? Not so, she is showing herself to be the leader of that cabal.Wasn’t it Jack who a few months ago , who after  submitting  his resignation  (in fear of being dismissed and being made an international laughing stock) was begging the PM to save him from the PNM because if shedidn’t they were sure to go after Anand’s throat, afterwards?
 Now it won’t just be Ian and Om, but Jack and Anand leading, directing and strategizing a scandalfest.
 And that is how, dear folks, “they bribe with guns, spare parts and money, trying to belittle your integrity   through political strategy they keep you hungry.  Your brother’s got to be your enemy.
 Please let them know that what you know is not what they taught you.

 Jackology it is, but he ain’t ready for the road, either.
Om Lalla,
Ian Alleyne (right)  realises his dream  to officially enter the political arena. Sold!

Monday, 12 September 2011

Revolutionary or Mercenary?

The verdict is out on Annisette et al.....

                 Revolutionary or Mercenary?

Lost in thought: PM Kamla Persad Bissessar  and top cop Dwayne Gibbs.

To divide and rule could only tear us apart/In every man chest, there beats a heart.
Soon we'll find out who is the real revolutionaries/ I don't want my people to be tricked by mercenaries.
 Bob Marley.

Discipline, Tolerance and Production. Those are the national watchwords, long lost to the crop of post seventies politicians- bar none. The destruction of our children is the whirlwind that we are now reaping, having tossed aside those words as every man took it upon himself to decide his own destiny , as it should be-.

Shamelessly none one found that his destiny was for the good of the people- all the people. Therein lies the work of God Almighty. It’s reached the point where the word politics is used so loosely that it can be interpreted to mean just about anything unclean.

It does not matter whether it is new politics, old politics, best politics or better. Or Best politics. We are now dealing with prison van loads of children who know neither discipline nor tolerance. Therefore there is no production.

The natural end result is that they become fodder for the criminal industry.

A criminal industry, which has been created and outlawed and sustained by the system which has trapped thousands of men and which could also reap thousands of errant girls if only because the police are still too old fashioned to acknowledge the extent of female involvement in the criminal industry.

The prison population will never give an accurate picture to his reality.

Just about one year before he passed away on March 30th 2005, Mirror editor, Keith Shepherd sounded a warning for two consecutive editions of the Sunday Mirror. One morning shortly after he arrived at the Mirror’s office in Barataria, Sheppy got a zeppo that a man was shot dead a short distance away at the Morvant junction. That was shortly after eight o clock in the morning.

Curious with his camera, the editor did not assign any reporter, but walked over to the crime scene, knowing that he would get there in time. They usually take long to remove bodies,.

On arrival as he took some photos, Sheppy observed the other youths who had gathered around the dead man lying on the side of the road, stone cold dead but with blood flowing through his bullet wounds.

They were not concerned about the murder as much as they were about the sneakers which he wore. Bling.As they commented about this, and Sheppy walked away, no doubt with his heart in his hand.

The rastaman then wondered aloud what the youths had come to. SMH, was what he was doing when he penned the story a few days later,.

That, he followed up a few months afterwards with a declaration to Hang then at 16…. One of the last pieces he wrote, commenting on the brutal mindset of the generation into which the gun had become as wanted a toy as the videogame was.

It was a natural progression. From virtual reality to reality. He had argued for the death penalty to be reduced for sixteen year olds to be hanged for murder.

He wanted to fight fire with fire- an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. It was his declaration of war.

He made his point and left quietly and we have lived to see 12 and 14 year old bandits and murderers. That fact is not yet recorded in the books of the criminal justice system for that matter because the police have not yet owned up to that, as they try to grapple with the older men who are leading those astray.

The criminal industry has grown by leaps and bounds over the years- it works hand in hand with the very system.

The jails need to be full for the lawyers to survive, strive or even thrive, depends on where you are in the scheme of things.

If there were no law breakers, there would be no need for a police service and an army, neither a coast guard nor the boy scouts.

And there would be no need for laws—and so no need for a parliament. Ent?

But, they are building another jail. You know where we are in the scheme of things.

As for the State of Emergency, thus far I am convinced that crime has long passed the stage of being “an urgent problem to address.’ It is now a matter of emergency.

Reluctantly, I make reference to the leader of the opposition, Keith Rowley, who in one of his sober moments declared that the country was under siege, after four murders were reported overnight in Arima.

Under siege, therefore, the national security bosses took the decision to fight their way out and played its biggest piece of trump, from the cards in hand. The Jack is still in hand and is yet to be played in a later round. If at least one or two high level car thieves from the Bamboo or cocaine importers from South Trinidad are not fingered and picked up, then it would be easy to say that the PP will get its Jack hung. And that is not the Fifa man.

A member of the Syrian mafia, or the Chinese mafia alone will not suffice, as this brutal town well knows.

With that said, there is some light for those who are not too blind to see.

I for one am breathing easier as I slowly and cautiously watch the police service empowered… a classic battle between good and bad playing out among the security forces.

In any team of cops and soldiers there may be a few corrupt ones. But each man is looking over his shoulder now that one example has been set.

A cop whose name- but not his face is a household name – has been transferred from his division where on more than one occasion he has been on the take from more than one drug dealer.

On the occasions that he busted a case, I was told, he was being used to play out one against the other.

The very same day that the news surfaced there was television footage of an Inspector,, praying with his men after they returned unscathed from the Rincon forest with a small arms cache.

Inspector John Daniels declared in his prayer ‘Lord we know this is just the tip of the iceberg”, after his men brought in more than 14 high powered rifles- albeit rusty old fashioned ones- and thousands of rounds of ammunition.

Good officers who long wanted to do their jobs and were shut down by the corruption in the system seem to be seeing a dot of light in the tunnel.

The other blessing in disguise which the rabble rousing people have not yet seen is that the police are being forced to use intelligence- to do their jobs rather than execute people in drive by shootings that are no different to how the criminals operate.

It’s hanging over their heads that they must operate with the law; at least that is what the high powered criminal legal team of Israel Khan, Dana Seetahal Pamela Elder and Theodore Guerra ought to ensure.

And last Thursday afternoon national security got the biggest boost they needed when trade unionist Michael Annisette –President of the National Trade Union Centre-hosted a news conference to announce that he had information about 13 containers of illegal drugs that have passed through both the Ports of Port of Spain and Point Lisas.

Wasn’t that the kind of breakthrough everyone is hoping for, even though we are not sure if Annisette can tell us whether the drugs belong to the Colombians and the Mexicans?

Was he just talking for the sake of talking, to play a role?

If not, and he is in possession of such crucial and valid information then the police intelligence units are seriously lapsing if they have not yet questioned him to get more information about the very big fish that everyone wants to see hanging from a hook.

But chances are when they talk to Annisette he will sheepishly tell them something to the effect that he got the information from Ian Alleyne, perhaps.

And we know that Alleyne is the King of “It is alleged.”

And this brings us back to the question of the real revolutionaries. These are the elders who have failed tens of thousands of young people by not using the energy which they have suddenly found to generate some love—self love, at least among the endangered.

Their lyrics over the years that Ella Andall had warned, plaintively in song about the Missing Generation” have been nothing less than divisive as they selfishly seek their own interests while pretending to defend the interests of the people whom they have neglected, spiritually and socially for decades.

The biggest talkers who are making noise up and down the country are engaged in a power struggle.

But the only way we can overcome this little trouble is to come together.

I hope that “soon we'll find out who is the real revolutionary/ 'Cause I don't want my people to be contrary.

Here endeth.

Friday, 6 May 2011

UNC or PNM insurgents undermine PP?


The scandalous 53 page questionnaire which is scanned and published above and below surfaced in the regular mail a few days ago. My information is that hard copies, only, have been distributed.

Obviously the person or persons behind  the document dubbed the People’s Partnership Mid term Test Papers have wisely chosen not to distribute the two page document via the internet. After all, emails are obviously monitored by security officials as well as all manner of hackers and easily traced.

So the original source of this document will remain a mystery.

The big question: Is this mischief is the work – aimed primarily at Local Government Minister Chandradesh Sharma and Prime Minister Kamla Persad Bissessar-of the opposition People’s National Movement (PNM) or the United National Congress (UNC)?

If indeed, it was the work of the PNM, one would assume the plotters would not have placed the name of their leader as the person who should be on the receiving end of the completed questionnaire.

So did it come from the bowels of the UNC, as I strongly suspect?

Fingers are certainly pointing in that direction, since it has been trendy for a couple of disgruntled, albeit diehard UNC supporters to trade all kinds of nasty information about their politicians; stuff that would normally be kept in the closet.

Early o’ clock, I figured that the worms or Trojan horses within the party are hell bent on making it hard for Prime Minister Kamla Persad Bissessar. They alone know the reason.

After all, the questionnaire is clearly not aimed at steering the national debate in any positive direction. Even if it is meant to hurt the PM and some of the people who are perceived as close to her like her sister Wattie and the Local government Minister it can only keep the people mired in kangkalang.

UNC freeloaders- whose first interest is not the national good are no different to their PNM counterparts.

Give them a chance they will destabilize this society by any means necessary. This questionnaire was edited  for obvious reasons.

Where there’s smoke there’s fire, however and if there’s truth in some of the statements posited as a questionnaire, then I wait for the mark to buss….. in the national interest of course.

 And now the remaining  nine  scandalous questions

Monday, 2 May 2011

State of the Nation: Tornado in a tea cup

State of the nation:

           Tornado in a teacup.

Where there’s love, there’s unity, where there’s unity, there’s progress.
It’s so simple, but the message is lost in the cacophony of what passes for national debate in Trinbago which we are apt to call a “blessed land.’

Every man with an ego that’s larger than life is fighting, whether he’s using divisive language to score points on others on the block, in the rumshop, at the office, in the boardroom, in parliament or just about everywhere they meet in caucus.
They are planning and plotting to bring down somebody, taking power into their hands, just as it was done to Jesus Christ who ended up nailed to a cross in Golgotha for speaking the truth.
After they crucified him in a manner most vile and placed on his head a crown of thorns, drove nails in his hands and feet , thinking that by placing him between two thieves they would have made him a thief worthy of his punishment they walked away satisfied with a job well done; beating their chests .
They did not know that by killing him they gave him new life! Thousands of years later, even the inheritors of the kingdom of spiritual wickedness still call the name of Jesus Christ, when it is convenient to them.
Because they will stop at nothing short of death: to kill an idea, to kill an ideal , to mash down hope, ultimately to crucify not just a man ( or woman) but the truth ,for in all that they say and do they do not practice the one commandment that supersedes all else, “Love one another.”
As the legend Bob Marley lamented “if puss and dog can get together; what’s wrong with loving one another! And so there is no progress at the office, in the boardrooms and in parliament.
They are running around helter skelter; their words and deeds showing them to be devoid of a sense of purpose. And so where there’s no conscience; there’s no consciousness.
It’s a tornado in a teacup; and even so my dear friend where they think they are being tossed and driven, the answer in blowing in the wind.
So, at this point I turn to another voice in the wilderness; that of Independent Senator Helen Drayton, whose contribution, in the Senate last Tuesday, on the Anti gang legislation, was lost on the cacophony of “he say, she say” that passed for a debate from both sides of the political divide in both the Lower and Upper House for several weeks.
Obviously, there was no space in the popular media for the reasoning of the goodly lady who questioned the severity of the legislation not on the grounds that the persons who drafted the bill had a racial bias against one constituency, but on the basis of the class differences.
Clearly she did not see the link between the draconian legislation and the stated philosophy of the Ministry of National Security as it moves towards community work and mentorship.
“What is the boundary of severity?” Mrs. Drayton asked late last Tuesday afternoon
“Can judges apply discretion in this bill with respect to non custodial sentences?”
Up to the time of writing, there was no answer; it must be blowing in the wind.
“All foreign legislation, that I have looked at ,make allowances because of the situation (that exists where poverty breeds crime),” she noted.
“Should there be an opportunity for reform?” the Independent pleaded, seeking clarification on the draconian 25 years sentences for persons accused, tried and convicted of being gang member.
“This is a dangerous piece of legislation because there is the high potential for abuse,” she said.
“ The police may not have evidence against a person about a specific crime but that person could go to jail for 72 days, with no bail, for being a member of a gang that committed a crime!
“The police only need to have evidence “reasonably” tending to show that he’s the member of a gang.
“He can be arrested based on a third party crime
“Normally in law the mere presence at a crime scene is not sufficient to say you commit a crime. This bill turns that around on its head,’ she warned.
“There’s huge potential for abuse in a justice system that not just imperfect.
"The legislation is weighted to disadvantage innocent citizens in some sectors.
“Crime is most visible in the poor and depressed communities, but it is most prevalent in the gated communities,” Mrs. Drayton noted.
“White collar criminals who steal development funds from youth have the means to clear their names when charged under draconian legislation.
“A person charged with depositor’s fraud will spend ten years in prison, though the fine is one million dollars,” she further explained.
“Under the Prevention of Corruption Act, fraud will get you ten years in jail and a fine of 500- thousand dollars.
“The foundation and the infrastructure is not there to support the legislation; to protect the life of parents and other children from gang members.
“What happens to the other children whose mothers are found guilty of not turning in one of her sons? the Independent Senator asked rhetorically.
“No government in this country has seen it fit to build an institution for children who need to be removed from danger,” she said.
It was at this point, nearing the end of her contribution to the Bill that Mrs. Drayton suggested that a Committee be established to monitor the operations of the bill to see if it meets the stated objective of the law.
“You must reflect to ensure that you are acting fairly and justly and equitably when producing this legislation,” Mrs. Drayton pleaded.
‘A few days earlier, in a move seemingly without much reflection and thought, the Trinidad and Tobago Regiment rolled into Malick /Morvant for a church service.
Commendably all the soldiers were rejoicing and praising God in the Church and it was supposed to be a good thing for the community.
Sadly, the church is located in the ghetto but is, in reality, so far removed from the people who require the healing.
The communities around the church are Never Dirty, Malick and Vegas for example, homes to men like Bill Francis and Cudjoe and these men have influenced people much moiré than the church ever did. Their influence lives on.
Folks have asked me to say they would like to see the army come to the community work and not stay within the confines of a church that is of no relevance to most of them, or lock up and beat people.
It does not make sense that soldiers are going to a church to sing and praise God when the bandits are just outside the door doing wickedness.
But then that is not likely to change, ent? After all Jesus trod the earth , and the seas, a free man, with no temple or church where he could have sat like a “Lord” and expected the people to come to him.
Indeed when he found the gamblers in the temple he mashed up the place!
And it was for doing good; for fighting spiritual wickedness in high and low places that he was nailed to a cross! Amen!

Sunday, 31 May 2009

Winston Bee Phillips, talks Women Soccer in Trinidad

Coaching girls is exciting, interesting but it’s
“A whole new ball game”

Winston “Bee” Phillips is one of the best defenders this country has ever known and perhaps the only long throw specialist in the history of local football.
‘Bee” is a member of the treasured team that failed to make it to the 1974 World Cup Finals in Germany , an ex army Corporal ,a panman and longstanding Head Coach of the Harvard Football Club . But people say that the no nonsense left back who’s been coaching since 1968, has gone soft at the age of 62 years.
And that’s only because of his pioneering efforts in the field of women football, where Phillips confessed he has been making startling discoveries since he started training young women just a couple of years ago concurrent with inte4rnatiopnal trends as women’s football is now a lucrative venture.
To date the man with 95 international caps when he played against teams from many of the top football countries and a startling First Division career with the Defence Force for twelve years between 1964 and 1978 has created an exciting team out of a group of St Joseph Convent girls and is already feeding good players to the National Women’s team.
In addition, Phillips has started the Winston Bee Phillips Women’s Clinic where he trains young girls, twice weekly, at King George V Park.
“It is really exciting; listening and learning and doing things I have never done before in football,” the hardworking coach and father of three said about his stint in teaching the games to young ladies.
There are new things I bounce up everyday.. and new problems, too, “ he added graciously while noting that it’s literally a whole new ball game.
But Phillips and his assistant Carlyle Harris have worked it out to a science as they have spent hours training and analyzing the way girls play knowing that they cannot take many things for granted as they would with boys.
“It is really changing the whole person; you have to teach that person how to walk with the width of the shoulder although the disadvantage is that I spend a couple of hours, two days a week with them and they spend the rest of the time carrying their bodies like they are accustomed to, “ he added with a sigh.
“This change for me started just last year when I got word that St Joseph Convent needed a football coach.
“At the time I was still skeptical about women’s football and that stemmed from an incident quite a few years ago when I was invited to coach a team in the Queen’s Park Savannah.
“That was my first and only experience a with women’s football and at that time, what I found was a situation in which there was one coach to each girl, which looked to me as if it was a man/woman situation, “Phillips explained in an exclusive tell all interview with Mirror Weekend.
“I left when I realized that, because I am serious about football.
“The first year that I had responsibility for them they were badly beaten in the Intercol Finals by Malick Secondary but the way they played made me tell the principal that we were going to beat them.
“It was the only assurance that I could give and that was based on what I saw when they played in that final ; the girls reminded me of long ago when we used to play a die hard game and any time that you get players like that it is hard to beat them,.
“As I promised we delivered and have been beating Malick Secondary in the past two years. The ratings always showed Malick on top, followed by Providence Girls College and St Joseph Convent.
“We have already conquered Malick, all we have to do get the better of Providence.
“The Under 15 Girls won the Knock Out competition in 2005 followed by both the league and knock out titles in 2006.
“The Under 19 girls played up to second round in the Intercol knock out and have been playing at that level for the past two to three years, “Phillips stated.
The selectors have taken six girls from St Joseph’s team to play with the national team and among them Bianca Walker made the starting line up.
Other than that, together with Carlyle Harris, Phillips started the girls coaching clinic at the Harvard Club where previously the few girls trained with the boys with the different age groups each Sunday morning in the Harvard Soccer Clinic that runs from July to December.
“For me it is a golden opportunity to coach girls, to see how they are operating.
‘Truly, I am tired of telling the boys the same thing over and over, ‘ Phillips explained, giving some insight into how seriously he take son this challenge from the fairer sex.
‘ The difference with the girls is that I can see that they are trying and it’s just for them to understand that lots of practice and training is what it is all about.
“ On top of that there are many more things to sort out before we go on on to teach them about passing and shooting.
“Girls are not natural footballers; for example, their legs are closed when they are walking. I have observed they have no stride, no balance and do not use their hands,” Phillips continued.
“What do you all do with hands? It’s just hanging there, “he added with a laugh.
‘But truly, how you carry your body everyday is how you will be when you start to run and these are the very fundamental things that we have to teach the girls.
To further clarify his point, Phillips explained: “When they are on one foot in the game the boys put up their hands automatically to get that balance.
“Girls do not usually do that and then they fall down.
“I see this happening and pay particular attention to every single person who comes through the school; look at what they are doing with feet and hands.
“One of the first things that we have to teach them is how to use their hands to get that balance; it’s not just coaching something and they will get the hang of it.
“In addition to teaching the football skills we have to keep working on that balance all the time until it comes instinctively,” Phillips noted.
“I know it requires a lot of patience and that I am doing something good by helping my footballers with something that nobody else will check for.
“Most coaches look at them as a male and many girls just pass through the system,” he observed.
‘ There are many other aspects to the game like passing the ball with the inside of the foot which is one of the most uncomfortable positions with the body and for them to get the balance and do that as well, could be a difficult thing.
“ All girls that I have coached had that problem of changing direction while on the move in a game, something which comes naturally to boys,
“Harris and I spent hours sitting and talking and know that we are seeing things that the other coaches do not see because they are not accustomed to treating girls as a specialty.
“As I said it is like changing the whole person; you have to teach that person how to walk with the width of the shoulder,” Phillips stressed.
“The clear disadvantage is that I spend a couple of hours for two days a week with them and they spend the rest of the time carrying their bodies like they are accustomed to.
“We also have to teach girls how to sprint which is very difficult for some of them.
“There are one or two tomboys who will not need that much work and they will be good.
“As far as aggression is concerned it is something that has to be introduced since I have to explain that when you tackle someone on the ground and you win the ball, that’s an accomplishment; that applying pressure on an opposing player win help you win the ball.”
“But it’s a straight case of me having to keep on talking over and again without losing patience,” the strict disciplinarian acknowledged.
“Still, I cannot talk rough to the girls and many people have been telling me that I get soft. Where I would usually put pressure on the men, I spend more time explaining to the girls,” Phillips stated with fatherly concern.
‘Even though what I have explained may sound like a challenge the strength of the girls is that they listen and will get there much faster than the boys, man who has been Harvard ‘s head coach for 15 years stated.
“Coach,” as he is fondly referred to buy his charges, is slowly building a clientele for The Winston Bee Phillips Women’s Clinic because his good reputation precedes him.
The aim as he has often stated is to teach the girls from scratch; the basics of the game, techniques and principles and team work after which he will form a team to pay in competition.
While it is important that individuals improve I feel good seeing them play and strengthen their teams, “
“ This is like the ultimate team sport and they must understand what a team is about so I emphasize team work , discuss what is each person’s purpose in the team and send home the message that the team is not about the best player but having the best players in every position,” Phillips mused.
“I also spend time explaining the team selection because I think if players understand that concept they will go out there and easily become part of any team.
“That means you are not just preparing for your purpose in a small competition at home; there are bigger things at stake for women in football,” Phillips explained.
“With children and young people you have to teach them everything and do not assume they know anything.
“I learnt a lot on my own so I show them because if we do not show them then how will they know? “he asked incredulously.
After the challenge of teaching women how to use their bodies differently, changing their sensibilities and nurturing controlled aggression, there are still more to ponder on, in the making a good female footballer.
Overall Phillips identified fitness as the most challenging part of training women,
‘ A most fitting example,” he recalled, “ was the first game that the St Joseph’s Convent team played against Malick Secondary when for the first time ever in football I saw nine players falling down on the ground due to exertion, cramps and dehydration. To make matters worse we suffered a 8-0 defeat at the hands of Malick.
“The problem, I later realized, was how to find a way to get them fit. All I have is two days a week it is very difficult to get them fit for competition when in July and August just before the start of the school’s competitive football season they are missing in action.
‘ With St Joseph, as with most prestige schools the children can afford to fly out of the country for most of the summer vacation and who will bother with soccer practice when they are in a big city or something like that.
“But I know that the folks from Malick are hardly going anywhere so they can continue to train.
“In a situation like this where there is limited time to train, the coaching comes like a kind of short cut to the game,” Phillips confessed.
“ I even experimented with the traditional school game that we were playing as boys, Rescue, and related it to football making it part of the routine.
“Harris and I started using it to see how it and took some parts of it to assist in the physical deficiencies liking moving in one direction and then stopping suddenly as part of the dribbling tactics,” he further explained.
“Overall I know that we are better coaches for women because of the amount of research we have done in our bid for perfection.
‘We just keep digging and digging for answers because a simple thing like a low drive, which you can teach to a young man you have to understand that girls cannot do it easily.
“Each player is unique and apart from the generalizations that I have made they have their own minor problems which they have to adjust.
“At St Joseph convent I train the girls for competition while here at my Clinic I concentrate on teaching the basics with which they will go forward.
“Reading the game is difficult for anybody but we have to teach them to keep an eye on what is happening around them and still control the ball.
“We tried all different ways; I make them freeze in position and look around, sometimes we use flash cards.
“I cannot remember seeing anybody paying that attention to detail and teaching that need to be alert when playing and reading the game to make the correct pass. Still, I continue to coach them in that way,” he said.
As you would expect heading the ball is like a nightmare with girls because once it is past their eye level they tend to flinch.
“Therefore teaching the chest trap is out of the question for girls until they get top a much higher stage of competition, as women,” he notes, “have a problem with the ball in the air ;once they get one lash they wont try it again, ‘ he said shying away from making reference to women’s breast being a clear and present hindrance which the boys do not have to worry about.
Still, Phillips summed it up diplomatically:” I have seen girls in competition jump up and head the ball if push come to squeeze and all that comes in with time and a loss of fear.
“As for injuries and hard knocks the girls are like babies. I have seen girls falling like a ripe breadfruit which means that we also have to teach them to how to break a fall.
“I always find myself insisting that if you are not injured you must get up from off the ground.
“My strict rule is that nobody is lying down unless you are injured.
“Finally I nurture the aggression but also teach them that they must be controlled; you cannot be ignorant because this beautiful game is still a contact sport.
“You can hit the opponent but be able to take a bounce and a kick once it’s a legal challenge, “ Phillips said, ending the first oart of an extensive interview in which we spoke about football, tracing his involvement from the sixties.

Thursday, 15 January 2009

Quarrel in death car: Was Jizelle Salandy exploited?

By Sharmain Baboolal.

Anaemic boxer was his pension but Potts says;
“I took only 30 percent”
"Jizelle handled her own money"

World ranked boxer Jizelle Salandy was anaemic , from childhood, a medical condition which certainly hastened the death of the 21 year old champion who suffered severe internal injuries when the rented motorcar she was driving last Sunday morning veered off the road and crashed into a pillar under the NP flyover just outside Port of Spain.
The holder of ten international belts – gathered in a few years-from the World Boxing Association (WBA) World Boxing Council (WBC) and the International Women Boxing Federation (IWBF) had the life blood literally drained out of her when the main artery in her pelvic area was punctured in the horrific accident in which national footballer Tamar Watson was also badly injured.
The body of the Chaconia Gold Medal awardee and Junior Middleweight Champion was otherwise flawless, except for blue/black marks in her lower stomach area, a gash on one of her thighs and a broken ankle.
Jizelle’s anemia which had already forced the postponement of one bout just under 18 months ago also caused her to complain of feeling tired, one of the classic symptoms of the condition suffered by the well loved athlete.
Unable to compensate for blood loss- like a normal person would- there was no turning back for Salandy who suffered massive internal bleeding by the time firemen, using the Jaws of Life, extracted her from the wreck of the Toyota Yaris.
If she had survived the champion boxer would not have been able to walk given the extent of the injuries in her lower body.
Even worse, the amount of money in her bank account would certainly have not been enough to finance the full recovery of the world’s most decorated women’s middleweight fighter.
“Her pelvis was so severely damaged that it punctured the main artery, so much so that there was a laceration on the liver and no blood in that area,” manager/ promoter ,Boxu Potts, told Mirror Weekend in a wide ranging interview last Thursday, one day after Jizelle was buried in her mother’s grave at Hickling Village , Fyzabad.
Potts- who played a frontline role in Salandy’s meteoric rise to stardom – has been on the receiving end of bitter criticism from people who swear that he got more ,financially speaking, from Jizelle’s boxing than she did- said “Blood was gushing out through the birth canal and anal passage from the puncture that occurred.”
At the time he described her injuries Potts made no connection with the fact that his prized fighter was anemic.
‘When I got her she was like,” he confessed a few minutes later when Mirror Weekend asked how long ago she suffered that condition.
“If she had survived the doctors say the use of her legs would have been compromised and it would have taken her a year, at least, to bounce back and there was the possibility that she would not have walked,” Potts said about the champ who died undefeated with 17 wins including 6 KO's and no losses.
Salandy’s anemia meant she had to exercise even greater discipline in the hurting contact sport for which she had a natural talent and Potts said that Dr Jacob Hadeed was the person mainly responsible for the health of the fighter.
‘He did a great job in topping her up all the time,” the manager/promoter declared.
There was no indication that a consultant hematologist was ever brought in to monitor the health of the champion athlete.
But the manager/ promoter offered: “Dr. Hadeed also worked out a strict diet and medication regimen for Jizelle to follow. When necessary he boosted her with (Vitamin) B12 injections and also structured her menstrual cycle.
“Do you remember the controversy when she did not fight Dakota Stone?” Potts asked rhetorically.
“It is just that her menstrual cycle started on the day before the fight and she was so stubborn that she did not want to step down from the battle even though the doctor advised against it.
“But as God would have it, the physical evidence was there when her blood count ( of red blood cells) dropped after Dr. Hadeed tested her and he told me that he was going to advise the boxing board that the bout could not be permitted from a medical point of view.
“If she had gone into the ring then Jizelle would have boxed four rounds and fallen down on her own,” he recalled.
Sometime later in the interview Potts deflected reports that in spite of the successes Jizelle was tired of the life associated with championship boxing.
“Yes, there was a time, about eighteen months ago- after her first titled defence, when she felt that she was being pushed too much and she said that,” Potts confessed.
“She complained that everybody wanted to own her and wanted a piece of her, but we had to tell her that is what stardom comes with. There is no mechanism in this country to deal with someone who went from zero to hero,” he declared.
It was sometime later in the interview that Potts would lament Jizelle’s lack of “life skills, adding that she was being counseled by Joan Yuille Williams who also saw the need for a social worker to be part of a high powered committee to manage Giselle Salandy.
“There were times when Jizelle locked me out of her room because I was keeping tabs to ensure that she followed the regimen that she was supposed to with the liquids she ingested and the food she ate especially because she was anemic and she asked me to leave her alone.
“Whenever she locked herself in she would just lie down and meditate and I often found her with a Bible on the bed next to her,” Potts said about his charge, whom he later described as an angel for whom the World Boxing Council declared a day of mourning.
Coming into sharp focus, naturally, after her passing, is Salandy’s finances, for which Boxu Potts will have to answer several questions, according to the talk on the ground from angry people close to the boxer.
While the promoter has been crying “bust” and claims that he owes people, ever since he hosted the first news conference on the day following her tragic death, he claims that Jizelle had been handling her own finances.
‘Yes, she dealt with it first hand,” he declared when Mirror Weekend first put forward the question that’s on everyone’s lips to Potts.
“She had that half million dollar insurance policy which will benefit her niece and just born nephew (who entered the world on December 26th on the night that Jizelle successfully defended eight of her titles at the Jean Pierre Complex.) Potts said matter of fact.
And when I asked whether the world title holder had any other money in the bank, including the purse from her last bout on Boxing Night for which she earned US$ 25 000 after defeating Yahada Hernandez of the Dominican Republic.
‘Jizelle would have some money in the bank; I would not know how much it is,” he dead panned when I reported the rumors swirling on the ground about whether she got just due from her bouts.
Sources say she was even thinking of starting a car rental business to prepare for the day when she would not have to endure punishing fights for a living.
While admitting that having ten title belts in such a short career should have made the 21 year Salandy a much richer woman that she was , Potts responded by saying that if the people who showed an outpouring of love after her death had supported her fights , the boxer would have been well off.
Then Potts gave the time worn mantra that he was in the red.
‘We must deal with this thing a holistic manner; maybe we can talk next week when I can get the relevant papers to show you,” he deflected, off the cuff.
Potts was also not in a position to say how much sponsorship money was given to him, on Jizelle’s behalf, by former Culture Minister Joan Yuille Williams under whose tenure millions of dollars were frittered away in grants and scholarships, much of which remains unaccounted for.
Was there a reason for him “bigging” up Joan, so much?
‘Most of the sponsorship was used to develop the platform for Jizelle to box on,” Potts offered, without offering much details just yet.
What was his take from the purse of the record breaking boxer?
“In world of boxing, the manager gets a 30 percent cut while the trainer gets 10 percent and the fighter takes 60 percent, “ Potts explained in a bid to dispel rumors that he covered the greater share of her purse , 55 percent as rumors had it, for all the title bouts.
“I took nothing as a promoter from Jizelle, even though I was supposed to be taking a 20 percent cut off the top.
“I was just building her for the big fight, when I would have been able to recover my loss; that was my gamble” Potts cried, without tears this time.
Then the former jockey listed the money received by Salandy for the six title fights.
For her first bout, the purse was US$ 7000 after which the purse grew progressively to US$ 10 000, US$15 000 for the third and fourth and then $40 000 for her fifth followed by the Boxing Day title defence for which the purse wasUS$25 000.
Granted she had a 60 percent cut as Potts declared, then at least Salandy should have least US$15 000, which translates to TT$94 500 in a bank account, if the cheque was given to her.
Where is that money and to whom will it be given?
Potts did not go into details on Thursday morning except to say that her niece and nephew would have been the beneficiaries of Jizelle’s insurance policy.
By our calculations, however, from the six main bouts Gizelle would have earned an average of US$ 67 200, if indeed she had a 60 percent cut.
That would have left her with TT$423, 360 in her bank account if she was honestly dealt with and if it was not frittered away in the past three years.
Potts played down the sponsorship he received for Salandy saying that he got small money from a few sources, including Ma Pau and the National Lotteries Control Board (NLCB), which still did not help him cover all expenses.
“I spent almost TT$1.2 million to promote the last fight.
With that he promised to present the accounts- “to give the holistic picture because I do not want to sell boxing short, maybe we will do this thing in another article,” he suggested, while emphasizing “I am half a million dollars in debt, I want that to be known.”
Jizelle was due to face American Angelica Martinez in late January, just four weeks after her successful title-defence against the Dominican Republic's Yahaira Hernandez on Boxing night.
Buxo Potts told reporters after the fight that he had a very busy year for Jizelle and was reported to be drafting a plan for Salandy to fight six times - once every two months - during 2009 with a huge title-defence against the American Mary Jo Sanders being the planned high point of the 2009 campaign which never came off the ground.
Salandy’s mandatory title-defence against Sanders was likely to be staged in March.
All that for an anemic athlete.


Quarrel in death car

Putting the pieces together from various sources, it is now clear that tension was thick in the car just at the time the champion boxer lost control of the Toyota Yaris which crashed into a pillar on the west bound lane of the Churchill Roosevelt Highway last Sunday.
It was a highly emotional moment, according to close friends who noted that Jizelle was fussing and angry a couple of hours before she crashed the car that had been rented for a week and which she had been driving around the country without any problems.
The evening started when Salandy attended a birthday celebration for Tamar Watson in St Joseph on Saturday nigh, according to promoter Buxo Potts.
Jizelle and Tamar along with Nathalie Pereira returned to Alicia’s Guest House in Cascade during the early hours of Sunday morning.
Potts- who gave this second hand account of what transpired on that fateful morning- swore that she did not drive to St Joseph on that night, even though she is known to have driven the rented car to the UWI Grounds in St Augustine on Saturday morning where she and Watson trained with the National women’s football team.
Potts was wary about giving out details about the last moments and what triggered Jizelle’a decision to leave Port of Spain to drop Nathalie Pereira in Piarco. He promised that Perreira would deliver a statement by next week so that fans of the beloved boxer would get a chance to better understand the last few hours leading to her death.
But sources close to Watson and Pereira say Jizelle was angry and emotional from the moment the trio left Alicia’s Guest House in Cascade heading to Piarco.
Only Pereira knows the real reason and now the mother of Tamar Watson is distressed by widespread reports of her daughter’s relationship with Jizelle whose death has thrown
The scandal that is circulating is also threatening to derail attention away from the immediate needs of the young national footballer who suffered two broken legs and a broken collar bone in the accident and remains at Ward 21 of the Port of Spain General hospital.
While the girls deal with the rumors, promoter Potts is trying to fend off criticism that he was not vigilant enough in preventing her from driving on that morning, after a night of liming out with friends.
While he claimed that he has tried to keep her from driving his car, Buxo eventually let on during our interview that when Jizelle rented the car “she did that transaction for herself,” at the same time dissing reports that the vehicle belonged to his son.
“The designated driver was Randy Hamilton, one of Jizelle’s school mates with whom she was very close. They had each other’s back, so to speak although their relationship was not intimate.
‘Then he stated she used the car to go to St Augustine to train on Saturday morning while I was out doing something else and Randy drove her,” Potts said, even though her friends insist that Jizelle drove Tamar to the training grounds.
“When Jizelle went out, she wasn’t driving on that Saturday night,” Potts insisted, adding “she went to somewhere in St Joseph where Tamar and the football team celebrated Tamar’s birthday,” Potts recalled.
“They returned to the hotel in Cascade- so I was told by all around her – and the plan was that they were going to take a rest and then do other things.
“Jizelle apparently insisted they should drop Natalie home,” he reported.
“You know I noted that all three of them have driver’s permits but she was the one who ended up driving.
“She was a get up and go type of person who wanted to do things for herself, you see.
“Randy did not go with them- for some reason- and I asked him afterwards why he didn’t call me, wake me up and tell me that she was going with the car by herself, Potts said, offering all that he was willing to say about the last few hours of the prized fighter’s life.
“I have asked Nathalie to make a statement next week and that is expected to clear up the reports,” he ended.