The Trinidad and Tobago national senior women’s players are still awaiting outstanding match fees and per diems, which were promised to them for the 2014 CONCACAF Women’s Championship in the United States.
A Ministry of Sport official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, told Wired868 that roughly $350,000 of its subvention to the football body was meant to go to the players as per diem.
However, none of the money reached the “Women Soca Warriors” although the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) saved on meal expenses during the team’s pre-tournament camp due to donated foodstuff prompted by head coach Randy Waldrum’s appeal for help via Twitter.
Wired868 was also informed that some of the Government’s subvention was re-routed to pay for non-budgeted team costs, which included hotel accommodation and travel for several late additions to the technical staff including former national stand-out Lincoln “Tiger” Phillips, who is the father of Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) general secretary Sheldon Phillips.
“We were promised $100 US a day but we never got it,” Trinidad and Tobago captain Maylee Attin-Johnson told Wired868. “They told us we will get it before we go to Mexico. It seems that there was some misdirect.”
Narada Wilson, who is the agent for Sweden-based winger Ahkeela Mollon, said the women were owed match fees as well as per diems and, although there has been no uproar within the squad, players have grumbled.
“They were told that they would get US$100 a day and it was 21 days so, from their calculation, they are supposed to get US$2,100 and that is not counting promised match fees,” said Wilson. “The girls are upset about it. But, to be honest, they are feeling worse about the players who are at university and stayed away from school for so long and then left with nothing.
“Everybody shook their hands yesterday (at the VIP reception) and said everything would be settled off today but then nothing. They are hoping they get it before they leave.”
However, Phillips denied that the Government specified any money was due to the players in its subvention.
“Our budgetary request was for $870,000 but we received roughly $650,000,” said Phillips, who stressed that he did not wish to be in conflict with the Ministry of Sport. “The $650,000 did not have line items. To me it was meant for expenses as they came along including hotel and meals and so on.”
CONCACAF paid for meals, accommodation and travel for 20 players and five technical staff members during its competition. The Trinidad and Tobago team had 11 technical staff members.
Randy Waldrum (head coach), Vernetta Flanders (manager), Claire George (equipment manager), Michael Taylor (physiotherapist) and Ben Waldrum (assistant coach) were involved to varying degrees with the women during their Caribbean Cup triumph.
The new additions to the squad were Muhammad Isa (acting technical director), Lincoln Phillips (technical advisor and goalkeeper coach), Wayne Cunningham (head of delegation), Nicholson Paul (cameraman), Dr Margaret Ottley (sport psychologist) and Adam Burns (trainer).
Cunningham, who is also the Eastern Football Association (EFA) president, and Paul are both GISL employees. They did one interview with Waldrum during their trip that was made available to the local media and public through the TTFA’s media channel.
Isa, Phillips, Cunningham, Ottley and Burns are among a list of staff members sent to the Ministry of Sport to receive $50,000 bonuses promised to the team. Only Paul missed out.
Phillips said he had to speak to Flanders before he could divulge how money was spent on the trip.
“I have to have a meeting with the manager to reconcile where and how the money was used so i can give you the breakdown later today,” said Phillips.
After a chat with Flanders, Phillips suggested too that, apart from an inadequate Government budget without a clear directive for line items, a faulty bank card was also partly responsible for the women not receiving their per diems in the United States.
“There was a problem where the manager couldn’t get money from her visa card while in the US,” said Phillips. “We need to find out why the card wasn’t operating. A per diem was budgeted but if the manager cannot get access to the funds she can’t do it.”
Could the TTFA not have wired the money to the women?
“If you wire money, it is a very expensive process and you end up spending hundreds of dollars,” said Phillips. “The card is really the best approach; so you have to find out from the bank what was the problem and why the card wasn’t operating.”
Phillips assured football fans that the women will be paid today.
Waldrum, in a telephone interview with Wired868, also revealed that the money raised from donations in the United States is still in a PayPal account set up for the players. He explained that the money will go to the players but has not been disbursed yet since he is trying to clarify NCAA rules on the matter.
Goalkeeper Kimika Forbes, her younger sister and midfielder Karyn Forbes, defenders Brianna Ryce, Liana Hinds and Rhea Belgrave and attacker Anique Walker are all university students. They can collect the per diem, which are considered living expenses, but none of them can receive match fees or bonus money given to their teammates.
Waldrum hopes that they can get a share of the money raised by Twitter, though.
“We wrote a letter to the NCAA to find out we can do with the money for those six players,” Waldrum told Wired868. “It cannot go to the players or the players’ families so we are trying to find out if we can put it in an account somewhere or if the Government or (TTFA) can hold it for them…
“So the money is still in a PayPal account until we get word from the (TTFA) and NCAA on that. We felt it wasn’t a good idea to give some players their money in front of other players who could not get any.”
The Women Warriors are due to leave tomorrow for a seven day training camp in Mexico City where they will prepare for the first game of their two-legged FIFA Play Off against Ecuador. The Ecuador national team plays its home matches in Quito, which is 2,782 metres above sea level.
The players hope to receive their per diems before then while the US-based players hope to have their stipends sent to them.
Waldrum apologised again for any embarrassment caused by his tweet for financial assistance and thanked the football body and the government for their response since then.
“I never intended to embarrass anybody,” said Waldrum, who confirmed that he is still working without a salary for the TTFA. “I thought as a parent who was trying to take care of his kids. I am extremely happy with the way the Government responded and Sheldon and Mr Tim Kee responded once we got things moving forward.”
He pleaded with football fans not to let any negative feelings for any of the parties involved in their World Cup bid detract from their support for the women.
“I want everybody to know how much I appreciate the support for the team,” said Waldrum. “It is important to get all the people of Trinidad and Tobago to throw all their differences aside and get behind the team.
“With the social media and internet, it is hard to keep the girls from seeing the negative stuff. So I hope even those who don’t support me will support the team and what we are trying to do for Trinidad and Tobago.”
Editor’s Note: The Trinidad and Tobago national women’s team postponed its trip to Mexico City from Thursday morning to Thursday afternoon on October 30 in order to allow the TTFA to pay overdue per diems.
The TTFA finally met its obligation shortly before the “Women Soca Warriors” departed for Mexico at 3 pm.