Help feed T&T women footballers: Chaos as Princesses reach Dallas

Gems at Lajoya

The Trinidad and Tobago national women’s football team captain Maylee Attin-Johnson was scrambling to join her teammates in the United States today after a visa delay meant she did not travel with the “Soca Princesses” when they left yesterday for a pre-World Cup qualifying camp in Dallas.

At least, Attin-Johnson did not have to worry about today’s lunch menu, though.

In arguably a new low for the face of Trinidad and Tobago’s sport, national women’s head coach Randy Waldrum, a Texas native, took to Twitter this morning to raise donations to feed the Trinidad and Tobago’s women’s team and source equipment after the players landed in the United States yesterday with just US$500 ($TT$3,176) and no accompanying Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) staff members.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago national women's team coach Randy Waldrum took to Twitter this morning.
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago national women’s team coach Randy Waldrum took to Twitter this morning.

“I need HELP!” Waldrum tweeted, just after 9 am. “T&T sent a team here last night with $500 total. No equipment such as balls, no transportation from airport to hotel, nothing…

“I don’t know how I’m going to feed these players starting at lunch today! If you know of anyone in Dallas area that will help with food, etc.”

KFC Munch Pack

Waldrum’s two messages were re-tweeted a combined 383 times and brought a flurry of sympathetic responses from American observers. Some people forwarded the messages to everyone from CONCACAF president Jeffrey Webb to ESPN analyst and ex-2006 World Cup player Shaka Hislop and Chaguanas West MP and former FIFA vice-president Jack Warner.

Various US-based sport networks also followed the story.

Next week, the Trinidad and Tobago senior women’s team will play the United States in its opening 2014 CONCACAF Championship fixture at the Sporting Park in Kansas City. But, today, the Princesses are asking for charity from the host nation.

A weary Attin-Johnson spoke to Wired868 as she prepared for her afternoon departure from the Piarco International Airport. The national captain said she had just spoken to teammate Kennya “Ya Ya” Cordner and confirmed the authenticity of the Twitter posts.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago captain Maylee Attin-Johnson (second from right) is congratulated by teammates after scoring in their 10-0 rout of St Kitts and Nevis during the 2014 Caribbean Cup. (Courtesy Jinelle James/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago captain Maylee Attin-Johnson (second from right) is congratulated by teammates after scoring in their 10-0 rout of St Kitts and Nevis during the 2014 Caribbean Cup.
(Courtesy Jinelle James/Wired868)

“How will we make it?” she asked rhetorically. “The same way we made out for the last ten years. We’re still going; we still have that belief…

“I don’t know what else to say. We are going out there regardless of the situation. The girls are hungry for success.”

The Princesses were hungry for more than success today.

The US$500—which was given to the women by a parent, Kenrick Hoyte, and a TTFA staff member from their personal accounts, just minutes before their departure—was spent last night to pay for transport and dinner while the players got a courtesy breakfast at their hotel this morning. But they started training today without even water.

A source told Wired868 that American well-wishers showed up during the session with two cases of water and financial donations for lunch.

“The players feel humiliated,” said the source. “They are sitting around with no food wondering if they are a charity case.”

However, TTFA general secretary Sheldon Phillips said the tweets were a result of miscommunication, which, he claimed, was subsequently resolved.

“They are embarrassing and the miscommunication from not knowing what the money was for paints an unfortunate picture of our preparations,” Phillips told Wired868.

Photo: Satirical account, Deadspin, does on gag on acclaimed rapper Nicki Minaj's suggestion that her upbringing in Trinidad was comparable to experiences of Zimbabwe refugees.
Photo: Satirical account, Deadspin, does gag on acclaimed rapper Nicki Minaj’s suggestion that her upbringing in Trinidad was comparable to experiences of Liberia refugees.

Phillips said, although the women travelled with just US$500, US$1,000 (TT$6,350) was wired to the team this morning while the TTFA supposedly collected a cheque for $250,000 (US$39,000) from the Ministry of Sport this afternoon. A further donation of $75,000 (US$12,00) is expected from Petrotrin.

“Yes, we sent them up with only US$500,” said Phillips, “but the feeling (from Waldrum’s messages) was that this was all they were going to be given for the remainder of the tour, which obviously wasn’t true.”

Phillips revealed the team met a US$250 cost for transport from the airport in Dallas to the hotel. So the 11 women players who travelled, excluding the coach, would have been left with US$250 for dinner last night while another eight players joined the group today. Still, the General Secretary insisted that Waldrum overreacted in his plea for financial assistance this morning as lunchtime drew close.

Wired868 asked Phillips to clarify if the US$500 the team departed with came from the TTFA, as he suggested, or the parent of a player.

“It came from a parent,” said Phillips, “because, by the time we got to the airport, the team had gone through. So that person was reimbursed.”

Wired868 understands that, according to another parent, Hoyte was only partially reimbursed for the money he spent on the women’s team while funding still had not reached Dallas up to this afternoon.

Team manager Vernetta Flanders, an equipment manager and physiotherapist and the team captain, Attin-Johnson, are expected to join the women in Dallas shortly.

One person who will not make the trip is assistant coach Marlon Charles, who was sacked by Phillips for the second time in five months after his spotty attendance record during a recent two week national women’s live-in camp at Petrotrin, which was sponsored by the oil company.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago women's players (from left) Rhea Belgrave, Maylee Attin-Johnson, Kimika Forbes, Arin King and Karyn Forbes pose during the team's pre-Caribbean Cup camp in Houston. (Courtesy TTFA Media)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago women’s players (from left) Rhea Belgrave, Maylee Attin-Johnson, Kimika Forbes, Arin King and Karyn Forbes pose during the team’s pre-Caribbean Cup camp in Houston.
(Courtesy TTFA Media)

Charles, who is a school teacher at the Chaguanas South Secondary, claimed the TTFA never gave him a letter for time off to attend the camp.

“I cannot just walk off my job to coach the team,” said Charles, who was an unpaid TTFA employee and had not even received a stipend from the football body in three years.

However, Phillips and Flanders contradicted Charles’ story and wondered, if, as hinted, there was a problem with the date on the letter given to Charles, why he never raised it with the football body.

Charles’ no-show along with the frequent absences of a physiotherapist, affected the quality of the sessions at Petrotrin, which were conducted on a field that was far from international standards and without the team’s overseas-based players.

The women hoped that their 2014 Caribbean Cup triumph in September would have been a turning point as they sought support for their Canada 2015 World Cup dream. But that proved to be an illusion.

Waldrum, who agreed to coach the team for free at the Caribbean stage, appeared stunned by the lack of support for Trinidad and Tobago’s sporting ambassadors.

“Please let me know asap!” Waldrum tweeted to potential Good Samaritans. “And I’m suppose (sic) to qualify this team for a World Cup! I have to help these players somehow… They deserve better.”

Photo: The Trinidad and Tobago national team poses with the Caribbean Cup trophy in September. (Courtesy Jinelle James/WOLF)
Photo: The Trinidad and Tobago national team poses with the Caribbean Cup trophy in September.
(Courtesy Jinelle James/WOLF)

One person promised to send pizzas; others asked Waldrum to start a PayPal account to collect donations. Another suggested that, if the Princesses got to the 2015 World Cup, maybe Disney would do a movie on the squad.

Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee (TTOC) president Brian Lewis urged the TTFA to respond to the exchanges.

“Someone needs to clarify and communicate the facts,” Lewis tweeted to the TTFA account. “Don’t embarrass TTO.”

TTFA president Raymond Tim Kee, Phillips and no one else from the football association took up that challenge. Phillips said the TTFA would issue a release but did not say why he had not taken to Twitter or Waldrum had not publicly supported the football body.

Instead, plans are underway in Dallas to use crowdsourcing to raise money for the Princesses.

One Twitter account dedicated to glory for the United States women’s national team wondered if the farcical tale of disarray was a hoax. Had Waldrum’s account been hacked?

“Sorry, it’s the truth!” Waldrum replied.

For the national women, this month’s CONCACAF tournament represents a once in a lifetime opportunity to get to a FIFA tournament, since Canada’s hosting of the 2015 competition has opened up an additional qualifying spot for a country from this Confederation. No Caribbean women’s team has ever qualified for a FIFA tournament.

United States is expected to top Group A in the CONCACAF Championship but, if the Princesses can beat Haiti and Guatemala to the runner-up spot, they are guaranteed at least a World Cup Play Off berth.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago captain Maylee Attin-Johnson (right) collects the Caribbean Cup trophy from CFU president Gordon Derrick. (Courtesy Jinelle James/WOLF)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago captain Maylee Attin-Johnson (right) collects the Caribbean Cup trophy from CFU president Gordon Derrick.
(Courtesy Jinelle James/WOLF)

Attin-Johnson insisted that, despite the struggles and neglect faced by Trinidad and Tobago’s women footballers throughout their careers, they will not give up.

“Our preparation was abysmal,” said the Trinidad and Tobago women’s football captain. “It was what we didn’t expect after being champions of the Caribbean. But that is water under the bridge now.

“We just have to see what we can do, now that we have all the girls together, to get to the World Cup.”

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About Lasana Liburd

Lasana Liburd
Lasana Liburd is the managing director and chief editor at 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. Warning: Undefined variable $userid in /www/wired868_759/public/wp-content/plugins/user-photo/user-photo.php on line 114

    Really, all you guys involved in football in a serious way and all our SOCA supporters, can we get this bumbling, incompetent bunch of people out of the way and run this show professionally? I am willing to help in any way.

  2. Who want to keep a conversation going on what was tweeted and how it looked ,Our players need assistance Today,tomorrow and next week! He Just looking for small talk to switch the attention away from the seriousness that confronts our ladies.

  3. Oh FFS, is this for real! And why is Carlos Lee making some pathetic excuses for the TTFA, FF or whoever. Where is f*****g Raymond Tim Kee? Have these people no shame whatsoever, while they effing living it large all over the the flicking world? Well done to Randy Waldrum for shaming Jack Warner, Raymond Tim Kee, Sheldon Phillips and all the other parasites, including the GORTT. You all have once again embarrassed this nation, now go and fight ISIS all of you and please don;t come back

  4. Tim Kee, Phillips, all of them are a bunch of jokers. You could bet money they wouldn’t respond until and unless they were embarrassed. How could you send a team up in the first place with only $500.US? Maybe Kamla instead of shelling out the money Jack owed to the 2006 Soca Warriors should have used it instead to secure our future in Football with our current teams both Men and Women. How embarrassing for Trinidad and Tobago. TTFF ent play they have no shame. STEUPS!!!

  5. John and Denisha – I agree. The association continue to fail us. And that needs to change. However, I’m not please with the coach’s tweet. Hoping the end result will be good, and this might be one case where the end might justify the means.

    • Local coaches are often used, abused, underpaid, owed monies and FIRED if they say anything. Everybody knows that embarassment is the main thing Trini authorities respond to positively (burning tires in the road, etc.).

      People follow the correct protocol for years without result!

  6. BTW I’m with Dr. Lee on this one.

  7. The question is Carlos , how do you know if he exhausted all options before sending the tweet?

  8. Whose idea it was in the first place for the team to travel to Dallas for a camp. Didn’t they go there 2 months ago for 3 weeks for this very reason. The 1st game is in Kansas (I believe) which is in the Midwest so guess what, at this time of the year the weather is similar to ours so unless the team went there for a friendly game b4 then there’s absolutely no reason for them to be in the US now. Dallas mind you is a lot more humid than here so I’m baffled as to why our team gone there. Is it that Randy has to get back to his paying job, and talking about job, what is the figure that he’s agreed to when the team qualifies?

  9. Carlos we will obviously have to agree to disagree because I struggle to place any significant blame on someone that is simply reacting to being placed in a ridiculous situation by a body who is paid to manage the affairs of our national football players! These players waited in the airport (and are still waiting) for TTFF to bring monies for them, there would be no embarrassing situation to be in if those that are duly appointed do their damn jobs……everyone that knows how football works knows that the blame lies solely with TTFF, if you have no money then send no team.

  10. this is so fuqin EMBARRASSING, the richest country in d caribbean n this kinda SHIT happening, WHAT THE FUQ IS THE GOVT DOIN

  11. The information was posted via his twitter page, which fortunately is verified. So I gonna do my part. Hope allyuh do ah thing too.

  12. we would not be embarrass this way if we do thing the right way these things are not mistakes this has been going on to long let not make excues

  13. The coach coaches or funds? Carlos Lee the min of sport has no effect either?

  14. Hmmmm i thinks its a misunderstanding

  15. I realize I’m swimming against the tide on this subject, but like activist Dr Wayne Kublalsingh I’m willing to stand alone to protect the flag of TNT. No one should be allowed to trample on the flag and embarrass a nation the way Randy did. Yes – TTFA screwed up. Yes – they deserve some public lashing. But the coach could have handled the situation better. True it’s not his job to raise funds for the WC effort. But for some strange reason he decided to take it upon himself to do such.

  16. there is so much the public dont know as to what took place yesterday with these girls waiting to see who comesand speak the truth

  17. ready to do my donation tonight @ the game …if the money going straight to the girls

  18. Oh, I pointed Courtney Courtenay Bush Man Rooks in your direction yes

  19. I want to hear Carlos response to Mr Wayne’s comment

  20. mr sheldon phillip please speak the truth up to an hour ago before the girls went to train no money has arrive and its the coach friend who has given him money for the ladies to get stuff, and was it you they were waiting for at the air port and you never showed up hence the reason they were nearly late and there was no one at the air port with the girls they could have miss the flight, more that 2 months you know the ladies will be going to dallas how come its only they leave all you now get money, and on top of that they had to make their way into port of spain in all that traffic to collect their bags, and also hearing they had to rush to trincity to do a photo shoot then to the air port can you clear this up

  21. Life Sport! That is all I have to say.

  22. Lasana Liburd are you taking responsibility for the transparency of the transfer of funds received for the team via the GofundMe page? Although, I have to say this is not the best way, did you see how long it takes to get a check from the company?

  23. Hey Carlos I am not saying that he is right or wrong….what I am saying is that TTFF created the mess and must now deal with the fallout. The coach never claimed to be a diplomat nor a fundraiser…he is a coach that was sent abroad with no money…I expect him to win matches not figure out what is the best way to raise money to feed a national team!

  24. Why are we acting like if this isn’t normal Trinidad? Too long we’ve sent teams from various sporting disciplines unprepared and then wonder why they didn’t do as expected. Preparation is key!

  25. Brian it is understandable to want that…but given the reputation of TTFF…well…I am not sure if the already setup channel is best, considering the ladies ended up in a foreign country without money to buy food, when the TTFF is (supposedly) responsible for their welfare

  26. No you’re right on that of course, but the TTFA have been funded by the taxpayer and have the money to support the team on it’s current campaign, but yet they haven’t.
    I am not for handing them over my hard earned money to withhold that as well.

    They will hadda lock me up! LOL

  27. Carlos, I’m completely befuddled by your analysis of this situation…is the coach trying to embarrass Trinidad and Tobago or did TTFA, Ministry of Sport and/or whomever else who may be responsible for the team succeeding in embarrassing us all on the world stage?! It is not the coach’s responsibility to provide a per diem for our players or to make sure that they are being fed…that sir, is the responsibility of our national officials and/or those vested in the team. Whatever money was saved by getting this coach to work for free, I would imagine he expected would have been spent making sure the players came to him fit to play (that includes with enough funds to provide them adequate meals and transportation). He is not a Trinidad & Tobago national or paid representative and should not have to bear the costs of preparing our national team for competition on the world stage, barring the free coaching/training work he signed up for. Someone failed miserably in this and I’m hard pressed to see how anyone could think that person is the coach and/or any of the players (not that you indicted them, but i just thought I’d throw that out there as well).

  28. Denisha – two wrongs don’t make a right. TTFA screwed up – again, but the coach didn’t have to make things worst. He’s a selfish little fella. One who sees our people as undeserving of his respect.

  29. I am an eternal optimist.. I also know many “scams” can occur even from movements of good conscience. What can I say??

  30. I had a brief chat with Lasana Liburd and he will attempt to establish a team contact to facilitate a transfer of funds. Can you kindly confirm. Thanks

  31. I think I would donate through their already setup channel first if objective is to get funds to ladies quickest.

  32. Lasana – agree. Honestly, I wish he had done that -I.e. contacted the TNT Embassy and wash his hands of this responsibility. There’s an old saying you get what you pay for.

  33. Hahaha… I almost choked there Brian!

  34. One thing I learnt very early- as professionals we have all control over our actions, but little control over reactions….TTFA acted very inappropriately and so must once again manage the chips as they scatter.

  35. Brian you really trust the TTFA……..after this?

  36. What is the Ministry of Sport’s response?

  37. Anyone knows if TTFF has their own page to accept donations for women’s team or generally??

  38. Carlos Lee, they sacked the local coaches who were working for free to being in a foreign coach to work for free. What did we expect?
    And I don’t mean to sound negative about Randy. I’m being realistic.
    Why should I leave my family out of pocket if I was coaching a Jamaican team when their own people were not raising money for them?
    His job is to coach not to be a diplomat or fund raiser. Lucky, he didn’t drop them straight by the T&T Embassy and say “Take care ladies.”

  39. We have a women’s football team?

  40. Briggs – if tweeter was his last resort then maybe deserving. However, I doubt it. I question his commitment to the team and country. The fact that he flippantly sent out such an embarrassing tweet shows that his commitment only goes so far. Not sure why the TTFA got into that half hearted relationship in the first place. Why hire a part time coach, especially one based thousands of miles away? Feel sorry for the girls who I’m sure are working their butts off trying to qualify for the next WC. Sucks that they’re caught in the middle of all of this. Wish there was a way for us to donate $$ to a WC fund to support our football players – One administered by an independent group. Lasana Liburd – what do you think? Can such a fund be established? What would it take?

  41. hahahahahahaha ok Lasana you in form…..breds

  42. Donation made… I’m a man of action

  43. T&T is playing its first match in Kansas City. The reason the team was sent to Dallas was to use the coach’s contacts there for free facilities.
    There was no way the money was going to last. And he would have 19 hungry women in a few hours.
    Does he dip in his own pocket and join the line of people waiting to be reimbursed by the TTFA? For all we know, he has probably done that already.
    I understand the girls had no per diem for their Houston tour in July/August.
    He is not from T&T. I can understand him being reluctant to be left out of pocket. And to resign would be to abandon the girls. We would have to send cussbud Gerry Hadeed to bring them back home!

  44. I have no issue with the coach actions, for too long we are required to suffer in silence while others thief and embezzle millions from the sport budget. I say enough is enough. Trinidad is a wealthy nation for the amount of persons living here. There is no logical reason our athletes, coaches and managers should have to face this

  45. yeah Phillips math include eating happy meals or $1 menu items with no drinks.. (damn cable and foreign advertising)

  46. Abdalla – it is a worthy effort…but I would advise that you correct the mistakes on the page…if you want to be taken seriously. People are after all being asked to give money.
    How about for the first sentence: “It is my understanding that the Trinidad and Tobago Womem’s football team is in a bit of a financial bind in Dallas Texas.”?

    You could also help the ball rolling by being the first to donate on the page.

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