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

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.”

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.”

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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174 comments

  1. Debbie Espinal, I said I wouldn’t do what Randy did. But I won’t criticise him for doing it and sweeping things under the carpet has never worked for us before.

  2. Did I not tell you all that the goodly TTFF public relations team would explain this all? “Shaun Fuentes19 mins ·
    All national teams need Lunch tomorrow… what overwhelming outpour of support today by big shots, foreigners, entertainers, artistes, middle class, man on the street etc. Amazing what a couple tweets can do. I think all our national teams could be in good gear if there can be more tweets like these.”

  3. That’s true Luana Lezama however it’s not a matter of handling more than one job. These men simply do not care and their arrogance is astounding ! It really is shameful and disgusting

  4. Tim Kee, also has questions to answer, if he can’t handle more than one job, then it’s time to move on. This fiasco could have been avoided, and these young women spared this unnecessary trauma. Shameful and disgusting.

  5. Some even getting $500 to get pregnan.. Whoops!

  6. Still a crying shame. This whole flipping government and their cohorts shameless. You can’t begin to understand how angry i am over this situation. They will give a Soca/Chutney star 2M in prize money and can’t even give $500. US to an outstanding team representing our Country?

  7. How much min of sport say they releasing? $17k? By tomorrow they pass that. Shame yes.

  8. So yuh see! Good thing he say something!

  9. Call out the Minister of Sports Again

  10. Let’s not forget who heads the TTFF eh! and he’s also Treasurer of a Political Party, so watch dem finances closely

  11. Nothing screams shameful better than this. What a message this female PM continues to send to impressionable young minds.

  12. Absurdly the PM Kamla Persad-Bissessar has gone silent on the $400 and steadily rising millions unaccounted for, compliments Life Sport, $7.5 BILLION for a 4 lane highway, originally designed to accommodate 6 lanes at a cost of $5 BILLION. Water treatment plant contract awarded to the highest and least experienced bidder in excess of $400 million. But no money for food for our young female footballers.

  13. They go want to fire him! Yuh Cyah fire ah man that working for free!

  14. And 34 million for nothing at life sport

  15. No one, no body, no country in its right mind, sends a team to train, observe or whatever to a foreign country without finances.

  16. These girls keep flying TnT flag high and them in positions killing we!! It have nothing wrong it what the coach said or how or where he said it,he is begging for help from outside of TnT.

    • No-one can blame Jack Warner for this.lol.

      where is sancho? where is shaka? where is darren millien and FPATT? where is Mr. Liburd? Not one of them has shit to say unless its about Jack Warner. What a joke!!!

  17. Make up your mind Lasana. You seem to be contradicting your self. Is either you agree with the coach or not. Seems like you’re walking the fence. Surprising for you.

  18. Trin Bagonian, I’m not taking responsibility for anything. I said I’m happy to be a part of something that tries to raise funds for the national football. That is in theory. I’m not a part of anything right now.

  19. Meanwhile all them assholes are currently dressed up in dey Armani suits and posing at the TnT vs Dom Rep game at the Stadium in their VIP section. You think dem mudders give a shit about anyone?

  20. How much further do we have to go in lowness ?

  21. I want to go to sleep happy……….you not helping! LOL

  22. Come on Vernal. You playing devil’s advocate, oh what? ‘Aint nobody holding anybody’ accountable. Look at LifeSport etc, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc… whew. ‘Nuff said, yes. ‘Nuff said.

  23. If there was accountability someone would be sacked!

  24. People really need to start speaking out and stop kowtowing to the pretenders and parasites

  25. Both to be honest…. I say that because we have reached a new low… then again the signs have been there with our youth teams that was never really revealed

  26. Lasana Liburd did Tim kee respond to this!!!

  27. Simply embarrassing and very humbling to be honest

  28. Shame! Shame! Shame on my country!

  29. What the hell (for a better word) i just read?…$500 US? ?…I take more than that when i’m going to shop while on vacation

  30. How is it a bloody MISUNDERSTANDING sending people’s children to represent TT with $500??!! Tim Kee you need to resign!
    It’s not now you know this tour was coming up! Mismanagement! RESIGN!

  31. This is sooooo embarrassing and thoughtless. How could anyone send these young women to represent the country under these conditions? Their parents must be aghast.

  32. The coach responded appropriately. In Trinidad and Tobago, we have this idiotic belief that if we exercise respect for whomever we will get things done. Well, that is absolute poppycock! I am tired of hearing about our sportsmen and women being disrespected, left out in the cold, having to sleep in airports, having to find their way to games or back home on their own while the ‘officials’ travel first class. Just a few months ago, the goal keeper for Soca Warriors was bumped from a flight to Argentina for a friendly against Argentinal National team while insignificant ‘hifolutent’ public servants and TFFA officials were given priority VIP treatment. This foolishness has to stop. The coach did the right thing. Stop the damn excuses and exercise fairness and common sense.

  33. no pride in those representing us on a national level,,expose them at the top,,horrible enough is enough

  34. Na Lasana, I give the coach full marks, with distinction. He knows these parasites well

  35. If you speak with the T&T national netball team, you may hear similar stories. Even Keshorn Walcott did not get javelins on time for the 2102 Olympics from the Ministry. Meanwhile, I’m still asking 1.) Where’s OUR Life Sport money? 2.) Where is the former Minister of Sport? He is uncharacteristically quiet. 3.) Who is currently being held accountable for the Life Sport fiasco? Can we really be surprised by any of this or is it just more of the same? Is it just something else to talk about?

  36. Timmy Tim Tim…..Money was in the account for them. Hmmmmmm

  37. miscommunication my ass they knew about this tournament lonnggggggggg time,,,u let a national team leave here like that steupsssss

  38. Tim Kee said in a radio interview recently that he only ever travels first class…
    Anyway, I will say Carlos Lee that I would not have responded to that situation in the same way as the coach. I will also say that his tweets did lead to embarrassment.
    Now, I don’t blame him for causing our embarrassment. I blame the TTFA.
    But if you are saying he could have responded in a manner that minimised our embarrassment, then I agree. Although I don’t know that sweeping things under the carpet has ever made anything better for us.

  39. But Denisha, FIFA funds the local TTFF in some form, what are they doing with it and where is MSYA in all this fiasco? No Federation should allow their national representatives to be in this situation. Supposed the US authorities had denied them entry because they didn’t have enough funds to cover their stay what would we be saying about the US now? I bet when Tim Kee and Phillips travel is gold card they use

  40. What a dis grace they should have been given the funds before they even left our shores. But a man can get 36M for doing nothing Wwwwhhhaaaattttt.

  41. problem is Savitri…FIFA not really any better in terms of professional and transparent!