Four days after the Trinidad and Tobago national women’s team flew to the United States for a pre-CONCACAF Championship training camp with just US$500, the team is still awaiting the promised funding from the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA).
And the Ministry of Sport revealed that the TTFA’s request for sponsorship was so late that it only landed at its office on Tuesday evening when the “Soca Princesses” were already at the Piarco International Airport.
Yet, last night, the only apology for the humiliating debacle came from the TTFA’s women’s coach, American native Randy Waldrum, who said sorry for the tweet that provoked an outpouring of goodwill in Dallas and red faces in Trinidad and Tobago.
On Wednesday morning, as his team started training without water and with no money for lunch, Waldrum tweeted: “I need HELP! 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.”
By lunch, national players said random people started turning up with water and snacks while, by dinner, they received pizza from well-wishers. And, by the following morning, there was over US$10,000 in an account the coach set up for the team.
Even the Haitian women’s football team, who the Warriors will face in a vital World Cup qualifier next week, pledged just over US$1,300 to the Princesses.
“Coach takes a stand for the team and look what happened,” wrote Caribbean Cup MVP and T&T striker Mariah Shade, on her Facebook account. “People from all over Dallas are just bringing us carloads of water, Gatorade, food, fruits, snacks and so much more.
“People in another country treating us like this; we are very grateful. #BlessingsInAbundance.”
However, TTFA president Raymond Tim Kee suggested that Waldrum suffered an “emotional disturbance” and, although he conceded that his administration had erred, it was only Waldrum who was asked to apologise.
“The response was overwhelming however in hindsight the language used to appeal for assistance could have been better,” stated Waldrum, via a TTFA press release yesterday, “and was not meant to cause any embarrassment to the TTFA nor the Trinidad and Tobago public at large.
“If it did by any chance, I apologize in advance for any embarrassment caused.”
Waldrum also thanked Petrotrin again for allowing his team use of its facility before the players left for the United States; although, in a previous tweet, he expressed dissatisfaction with the condition of the club house.
For now, Waldrum wants to put the matter behind him and focus on preparing his team for the World Cup qualifiers. Not that there is any chance his tweet will not be the talk of the tournament.
“I am passionate about my players and in making Trinidad and Tobago proud, and like yourself, I understand the tremendous opportunity that lies before us,” stated Waldrum, who led the Princesses to the Caribbean Cup title while working pro bono. “Thank you for all your efforts in light of a very difficult and challenging situation and would like to thank the people that came to our aid including the hundreds of donors, supporters, Ministry of Sport and Petrotrin.”
Trinidad and Tobago captain Maylee Attin-Johnson, in a previous interview with Wired868, gave a more sober analysis.
“Our preparation was abysmal,” said Attin-Johnson. “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.”
For the Tim Kee, who is also Port of Spain Mayor and PNM treasurer, and his general secretary Sheldon Phillips, it was just one more embarrassing cock-up to their list.
Since Tim Kee took over the helm of the football body in December 2012, the football body has: failed to audit the body’s accounts, misled the public over an Akeem Adams fundraiser, failed to properly convene its finance committee, reversed a promise to chase funds allegedly siphoned out of the football body by former special advisor Jack Warner, failed to pay technical director Anton Corneal as well as replace him after his resignation, failed to honour courtroom promises made to the 2006 World Cup players and former coach Russell Latapy, hired and fired coaches without approval from the TTFA executive committee and botched administrative duties like making timely requests for funding, selecting local players for a MLS camp, hiring referees for a FA Trophy clash and mediating club disputes at Super League level.
And, this week, the national women’s team was on a plane for Dallas without a single accompanying technical staff member and not even a dollar to pay for transport from the airport to their hotel. Worse, the football body had not even formally requested money to give to the Princesses until that very evening.
Fortunately, one player’s parent, Kenrick Hoyte, is a customs officer and he, along with a TTFA staff member, dipped in their personal bank accounts and came up with US$500, which he gave to the women while they were on the plane.
Tim Kee said his administration’s behaviour was “unpardonable.” But he did not offer an apology for it; nor did he sanction any TTFA staff member and, in particular, his General Secretary for their roles in the farce.
He ensured that Waldrum said sorry though.
(Apology in full)
Dear Mr. Tim Kee,
As part of my preparation for the upcoming CONCACAF tournament, I have worked under the full awareness of the financial difficulties facing the TTFA, especially its battle to raise awareness and financial support to provide the required level of resources for its women’s national team programs.
Our recent camp in Palo Seco was organized in response to my request for a proper residential camp. Once again, realizing the financial situation of the FA, I worked tirelessly with your General Secretary who successfully lobbied Petrotrin to graciously provide the beach camp facility for free to start our national team preparations.
Concurrently, plans were being put in place to have a 7-day camp in Dallas where I would be able to secure some additional resources to continue the team’s preparation.
However, when eleven players arrived to Dallas on Monday October 6, at that time I had only received partial itinerary information from the team manager with some insight on what was being done in Trinidad regarding the release of funds.
Understanding the challenges the TTFA, I sent out a message on social media site Twitter asking for assistance.
The response was overwhelming however in hindsight, the language used to appeal for assistance could have been better and was not meant to cause any embarrassment to the TTFA nor the Trinidad and Tobago public at large. If it did by any chance, I apologize in advance for any embarrassment caused.
I am passionate about my players and in making Trinidad and Tobago proud, and like yourself, I understand the tremendous opportunity that lies before us.
Thank you for all your efforts in light of a very difficult and challenging situation and would like to thank the people that came to our aid including the hundreds of donors, supporters,Ministry of Sport and Petrotrin.