The “Women Soca Warriors” should finally collect their match fees and per diems tomorrow for their efforts in Trinidad and Tobago’s FIFA Play Off second leg clash against Ecuador on December 2.
Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) general secretary Sheldon Phillips, according to a national women’s team member, has sent word that the players and staff can finally receive their outstanding payment.
The Warriors were promised a US$500 (TT$3,178) match fee plus a per diem of US$100 (TT$635) for their eight-day pre-match camp. The notion of a per diem is that one receives the money for use in advance—rather than two weeks later—but the players are happy to receive it at all.
Still, star attacker Kennya “Yaya” Cordner admitted that there were lingering bad feelings between the players and the TTFA administrators after an emotional and tumultuous campaign.
The Women Warriors’ 2015 World Cup drive started with neglect, as the players went almost two years without a friendly international, and climaxed with coach Randy Waldrum’s infamous tweet for help after the players left for the 2014 CONCACAF tournament in the United States with US$500 (TT$3,178) in total and no accompanying officials.
At the end, Cordner and her teammates had over 20,000 enthusiastic supporters cheering them on as they succumbed to a late Ecuador goal in their final Play Off match and there was a TT$50,000 bonus per player from the Ministry of Sport.
But the gifted attacker said the TTFA’s perceived inability to properly handle their final match fees, despite recording over TT$1.6 million from the Play Off match, summed up their treatment over the duration of the campaign.
“First we heard we were getting our payment on the weekend after the game and then the next week it was the same thing,” Cordner told Wired868. “The money they had for us was barely a scratch of the $1.6 million and we are depending on them for it and this is what we have to go through. It is as if they don’t understand or care that Christmas is coming up.”
Cordner admitted that, although there were good moments along the way, the women grew increasingly frustrated with the TTFA over the course of their ultimately unsuccessful World Cup qualifying campaign.
She revealed that, in the build-up to the decisive Play Off match, the women were at loggerheads with the TTFA over complimentary match tickets. The football body offered the players five each but the women felt it was an insult to the people who helped them along the way.
Even former head coach Marlon Charles, who steered the women for all but the final two months of their journey, was not given a ticket to watch the decisive qualifying fixture in Port of Spain.
“To be honest, there are times when (the TTFA) was good to us but most times when we needed them the most they were not good at all,” said Cordner. “They gave us five tickets (for the Ecuador match) and that was not enough because we had people outside of our families who were helping us out along the way when they were doing nothing for us…
“We had to fight and in the end they gave us five covered and five uncovered.”
Cordner recently became the first Caribbean player to be nominated for the CONCACAF Women’s Player of the Year gong. She acknowledged that the voting procedure for the award made it nearly impossible for players from tiny nations to win. However, she is honoured to be recognised at all.
“It is a big, big achievement to be named among those calibre of players,” said the 26-year-old Cordner, who is a free agent after spending the last season with Seattle Sounders in the United States’ second tier W-League. “I know 1.3 million people cannot reach the billions of voters from the US (for the prize); but just to be nominated is great because I never dreamed of something like this.”
She admitted that it was hard to get over her failed dream of a place in a senior World Cup, though.
“Almost every morning after (the loss to Ecuador) I woke up crying,” she said. “I try not to cry so much now but it will hurt for a long time. I just try to tell myself I have a lot of football left to play and God has his reasons why he didn’t want me to go through (to the World Cup) right now.”
And what happens next?
Cordner does not have a clue what is on the horizon for the Women Warriors. At present, there are no scheduled international matches on the horizon nor even a technical staff in place. The W-League starts in April while she would surely jump at an opportunity to play in the US’ top flight, National Women’s Soccer League.
She suggested that the national women players are more battle hardened after the 2015 World Cup qualifying campaign and will be more vocal about issues pertaining to the squad.
“I have been quiet for too long and I cannot be quiet anymore,” said Cordner. “We have no clue what is going on (with the national team) again. It is as if the game done and everything else done until further notice. It is just ridiculous.”
The Women Warriors have a better idea of what is necessary to succeed on the international stage now. And they are adamant that the TTFA must pull its weight to help get them there.