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T&T U-17 women’s coach quits, returns to Italy; Carolina continues with half her foreign staff

Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) president David John-Williams restarted the Women’s National Team programme with a bang on 1 February 2017, as he unveiled respected Italian coach Carolina Morace and her foreign aides, Nicola Williams, Elisabetta Bavagnoli and Manuela Tesse, as assistants.

Morace, a former Canada head coach, was enlisted to head the programme and operate as Women’s National Senior Team coach with Williams as her assistant and Under-20 head coach, Tesse as Under-17 coach and Bavagnoli serving as assistant to all three coaches.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) president David John-Williams (second from right) poses with Women’s National Senior Team coaches (from left) Nicola Williams, Carolina Morace and Elisabetta Bavagnoli at a press conference in the Ato Boldon Stadium, Couva on 1 February 2017.
(Courtesy Sean Morrison/Wired868)

Four months on and only Morace and Williams, an Australian, remain though, as Wired868 was reliably informed that Tesse quit her post while it is uncertain whether Bavagnoli ever returned since her first visit to Trinidad. Tesse and Bavagnoli are both Italians.

John-Williams and National Under-17 Team manager Ricarda Nelson could not be reached for comment while the TTFA is yet to issue a release on Tesse’s departure.

Suggestions differ as to why Tesse’s quit the programme although most agreed that she was unenthused by the low-key operation of the youth team, which has no scheduled international games and is supposedly less resourced than the senior set up.

However, the senior Women Soca Warriors have not exactly been buzzing either. Their only two international outings so far ended in a goalless draw and 3-1 loss to a mediocre Venezuelan team while Morace fell out early with former senior team captain Maylee Attin-Johnson, veteran winger Ahkeela Mollon and gifted attacker Kennya “Yaya” Corder as well as equipment manager Steve Fredericks.

Morace’s time in Trinidad and Tobago so far has divided opinion with some hailing her as brave, knowledgeable and no-nonsense while detractors described her as abusive, divisive and dictatorial.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Women’s National Senior Team coach Carolina Morace (centre) makes a point to Lauryn Hutchinson (far left) and her teammates during international friendly action against Venezuela on 26 March 2017.
The two nations played to a goalless draw at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva. Looking on (second from right) is assistant coach Nicola Williams.
(Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)

Regardless, the fiery Italian remains and, according to informed sources, has described her will to finish the job in Trinidad as absolute. Her contract with the TTFA takes her up until the France 2019 Women’s World Cup when, hopefully, the Women Warriors will qualify for a FIFA tournament for the first time.

Trinidad and Tobago’s only previous involvement at a Women’s World Cup came as host nation for the 2010 Under-17 tournament.

The senior women continue to train three times a week under Morace, who has widened her pool with an influx of United States-based players who are home on school vacation.

Some of the overseas-based players in the current training squad are: Victoria Swift, Maya Matouk, Jenelle Cunningham, Naomie Guerra, Chevonne John and Khadisha Debesette.

Morace told the TTFA Media that she has scheduled matches with local boys teams to get some playing time for her current squad.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Women’s National Senior Team head coach Carolina Morace (right) and captain Tasha St Louis warm up before kick off against Venezuela in international friendly action at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva on 29 March 2017.
(Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)

“The matches are to get the players into the rhythm of the game and we have seized this opportunity to have them active,” said Morace. “The summer period goes until the end of July so we are hoping to be able to see more players and to finish this period with International matches.

“I have seen some new players that now add to the pool of players that are able to be selected and there are more players that I am still waiting to see which is necessary for us to have a better idea of what our best selection can be for international football.

“What is important is the players overseas have to realise what the international level is like and they have to prepare themselves physically to be ready to compete when called to duty.”

The 2017 Women’s League of Football (WOLF) competition is due to kick off on 10 June and runs until August. Morace has agreed to release all national players to train twice a day with their respective clubs and to play competitive matches on the weekend.

Once more, TTFA employee Sharon O’Brien will oversee the competition after being returned to the post of women’s football president at last Wednesday’s election but it was a fractious affair. The first vote ended seven-seven between O’Brien and challenger Vernetta Flanders, who was the body’s former general secretary. However, O’Brien prevailed eight-six in a second vote.

Photo: WOLF president and Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) employee Sharon O’Brien (centre).

The electoral committee compromised of TTFA vice-presidents Ewing Davis and Joanne Salazar as well as Jamiyla Muhammad, which, Flanders suggested, was hardly an independent trio.

As a TTFA employee, O’Brien is, arguably, beholden to Davis and Salazar. And she is believed to have ingratiated herself to president John-Williams—not least by taking his daughter and W Connection boss, Renee John-Williams, to Costa Rica, as the sole Pro League representative to a FIFA TMS workshop, and voting along with the TTFA president to remove former men’s head coach Stephen Hart.

Notably, O’Brien’s first order of business, once re-elected, was to name the third member of the electoral committee, Muhammad, as her new general secretary.

The women’s body had also failed to adhere to article 27.3 of its constitution, which stipulated that all members should receive, among other documents, the Financial Statements and Independent External Auditors’ Report as well as the Budget at least 14 days before the AGM.

Instead, a balance sheet purporting to be a financial statement was issued to clubs on the day of the election with no accompanying independent report.

Flanders, a former Women Warriors team manager, said that, despite her dissatisfaction with the process, she will not contest the election result.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago playmaker Dernelle Mascall (centre) drives towards the Venezuela goal during international friendly action at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva on 29 March 2017.
Venezuela won 3-1.
(Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)

About Lasana Liburd

Lasana Liburd
Lasana Liburd is the managing director and chief editor at Wired868.com and a journalist with over 20 years experience at several Trinidad and Tobago and international publications including Play the Game, World Soccer, UK Guardian and the Trinidad Express.

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  1. Trinidad and Tobago was just placed in Group A with US Virgin islands, Grenada, and Curaçao for the 2017 Caribbean Women’s Under-17 Qualifiers. Now what?

  2. This reminds me of when the Trinidad female football league had mash up for a particular reason perhaps she left for the same
    But am sure that the vandykes football team could provide a suitable coach

  3. I would have probably done the same thing

  4. Yup ! Expected this , we think the world at large revolves around us and hence would accept the folly that continually takes place in the sporting arena in Trinidad , these foreigners are professionals who would expect and accept nothing less than the High Professional Standards set by International Sporting Fraternities, not our Third World Political Antics !

  5. no foreigner in there right mind would want to come here and put up with this brainless govt ministers … why Barrel Smith ain’t coach the girls…

  6. Have no fear jah will send someone along one love bless

  7. These foreign coaches need tuh Google “Trinidad” before dey come here. Dey go save deyself rell chubble!

  8. Communication??!! That is a ‘four’ letter word in certain circles…..what post colonial-fashioned entity in this country has ever mastered the art of listening? Everybody seems to be engaged in a turf war….If this was really feudal Japan, heads would’ve actually rolled….

    • Yup, post colonial is right. We grew up being taught children are to be seen and not heard.
      Now, we have athletes being publicly scolded for speaking out.
      I am not saying the first option to speak out should be media, but from the frustration expressed by athletes, coaches, administrators, I would hope that other options were used first.
      Moreover, it seems we also need to teach how and when to communicate.
      As a society, we tend to ignore an issue until it blows up.
      Sometimes it could be a simple misunderstanding. Or personality clashes. But who loses out when issues are aired and cleared? It seems immature to sit and complain but not try to address concerns head on.

    • “As a society, we tend to ignore an issue until it blows up.
      Sometimes it could be a simple misunderstanding. Or personality clashes. But who loses out when issues are aired and cleared? It seems immature to sit and complain but not try to address concerns head on”……go to the head of the class…..this strikes at the heart of the lack of true professionalism at various levels in our society….the plantation has taught us to love, value and guard the ‘position’ more than the ‘integrity’ of said position or office. So personality becomes more the focus and clashes of such become more prevalent ….flagrant disregard for due process is now the norm and we are now a ‘small ting’ society….’doh beat up’….smfh….according to one politician,,,’wake me up when its over’ – Apathy is now in charge
      Like · Reply · a few seconds ago

    • Yup @personality. Which is why I try to listen to comments from everyone, you actually get a better picture.
      But don’t these clubs/teams have formal procedures including grievance procedures?
      If not, why not?
      That just seems to be opening the door to anything goes, and out goes accountability and transparency.

    • Lawd faddah…Nerisha Mohammed…why you cussin hard so this hour o’ de morning….’accountability and transparency’ ….more ‘bad words’ in the land of ‘mimic men’…just now the state controlled police will lock up ppl for using those words in public! Orwell may as well have been a prophet! Ironic since he wrote his most famous manuscript in reference to communist/socialist Russia, it seems to carry more and more relevance for democratic society and by extension the institutions it spawned.

  9. Why is it politics in sports seems worse than national politics?
    And re: issues with team, I still advocate for mediation, as I believe better communication could help, at least in part.

  10. The other one will go too soon enough. Find they lasting long.

  11. O Gawd oye. We not serious!! I ALWAYS ask- “How does Jamaica, with less financial resources does so much better job than we do?” There is a missing link somewhere and if we dont find it soon….Not even the Trini god can help us.

  12. This sounds so familiar, what’s new

  13. So wait the Italian Coach just came to our sweet country and just so, just so, she want to start plenty bacchanal about Sharon O’Brien being elected again eh. I not even reading the article either nah steeuupps. Them really good yes.

  14. Hmmmm

    This will always be an issue. The heads never change, yet we want new ideas to create a bigger and better vision.

  15. I eh even reading the article…..is like a template regurgitating past issues of past coaches fired and resigned.

  16. Never, A, Dull. Fleckin. Moment!!! smfh!!