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Sport Ministry vows to launch women’s pro league by May 2015

Sport Minister Brent Sancho seems bent on shattering the perception that he is a caretaker appointment after revealing his plans to start a women’s professional football league in less than four months.

Sancho told Wired868 that the league, like the local men’s Pro League, will be modelled on the United States’ Major League Soccer (MLS) set-up with franchises for sale and no relegation. And he says that the women’s competition, which would envelop the current T&T Women’s League Football (WOLF), will kick off in May 2015.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago attacker Kennya Cordner (right) tries to escape a challenge from Ecuador right back Ingrid Rodriquez during their FIFA Play Off second leg meeting in Port of Spain. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago attacker Kennya Cordner (right) tries to escape a challenge from Ecuador right back Ingrid Rodriquez during their FIFA Play Off second leg meeting in Port of Spain.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

“It will be a three month league (…) and (the cost) is very practical and very doable,” said Sancho, who recused himself from his role as managing director of Pro League club, Central FC, to run the Sport Ministry last month.

The Sport Minister did not reveal the final proposed cost for the project or a minimum wage for players. But he estimated that it would cost between TT$500,000 to TT$700,000 a year to run a “franchise”, which is inclusive of salaries, operation costs and promotions.

“This league isn’t designed to make anyone a millionaire or to be able to live off it in year one,” said Sancho. “But what it does is give women players the capacity to play football for three months of the year, coupled with international friendlies around it.”

The Sport Minister said he has already discussed the proposed league with the management of WOLF (T&T’s Women’s League Football). However, Wired868 found women’s football officials to be excited and alarmed in equal measure.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago captain Maylee Attin-Johnson (centre) signals during their 1-0 FIFA Play Off defeat to Ecuador in Port of Spain on December 2. Looking on are teammates Arin King (left) and Kennya Cordner. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago captain Maylee Attin-Johnson (centre) signals during their 1-0 FIFA Play Off defeat to Ecuador in Port of Spain on December 2.
Looking on are teammates Arin King (left) and Kennya Cordner.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

“I think it is a great idea but we have so much development work to do,” said one official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “Who is going to coach these teams when so many local women’s coaches are underprepared? Does it help school football players and their development?

“I think there are so many factors to take into consideration… To me, our priority should be about building our pool of players.

“It is a great idea but I just think it is rushed and we should bring all the stakeholders to the table and think more carefully about this.”

However, Sancho, who was sworn in as Sport Minister just four weeks ago, believes that now is the perfect time to start the league due to the increased public attention for the women’s game. And he claimed that his early talks found that corporate Trinidad and Tobago is still buzzing at the excitement caused by the “Women Soca Warriors.”

Photo: An adult and child support the "Women Soca Warriors" during their FIFA Play Off second leg clash against Ecuador in Port of Spain. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: An adult and child support the “Women Soca Warriors” during their FIFA Play Off second leg clash against Ecuador in Port of Spain.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

“This league may be the brainchild of the Ministry (…) and there has been encouraging feedback from corporate Trinidad and Tobago,” said Sancho. “The women (footballers) are high in the memory of corporate Trinidad at the moment.”

There is precedent to a State-run professional league as Ecuador’s Sport Ministry kick started a women’s league in 2014. Ecuador edged Trinidad and Tobago 1-0 on 2 December 2014 to edge the W/Warriors to a Canada 2015 World Cup place.

At present, the men’s Pro League is heavily subsidised by the Government, which pays most clubs between TT$60,000 to TT$80,000 a month to run its operations and also provides an administrative budget of over TT$2 million a season to the League’s executive body.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Sport Minister Brent Sancho (right) and FIFA Development Officer Howard McIntosh exchange pleasantries. (Courtesy TTFA Media)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Sport Minister Brent Sancho (right) and FIFA Development Officer Howard McIntosh exchange pleasantries.
(Courtesy TTFA Media)

Sancho, who also discussed radical changes to the Government’s relationship with the TTFA, hopes to help the women’s league to be self-sufficient within three years and has similar plans for the men’s Pro League.

 

Editor’s Note: Wired868 will publish the first part of an extensive and exclusive interview with Sport Minister Brent Sancho on Friday March 6.

About Lasana Liburd

Lasana Liburd
Lasana Liburd is the CEO and 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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21 comments

  1. Waste of Time. He’s just making an Ass of him self

  2. The new minister might have inadvertently given us the election date!!

  3. d amt of tings happening in may…smh

  4. After 5 years in office, Kamla wants to say that she has done something for women. Big deal!

  5. They all trying to get things off teh ground before elections so that they can boast bout wah they do during they campaigning. Tell meh ah lie…

  6. I have a tape of my interview Earl Mango Pierre. People are allowed to change their minds and maybe the Sport Minister did. Suppose he decides to start in December instead? Would that mean I misled everyone?

  7. I am now listening to the Minister of Sports message yeah and he said it will be a semi- professional women’s league eh, so why Mr. Live is misleading us with that headline in his story eh. 🙂

  8. The big America tried the same thing and it only lasted two years because of lack of support eh, then again we have a bootleg Professional league and I call it bootleg because the players are not being paid like real professionals and there is a lack of the real crowd support and this league is about 12 yrs old ent. Them really good yes.

  9. allyuh ent realize SIS is the nation’s biggest sports sponsor “ALL OF A SUDDEN”……
    like if they ever cared…..
    all in the cinema they have sports adds…
    smh

  10. Why not encourage the private sector to fund it though? Like the Barclay’s Premier League…. But then I guess if you do that, the opportunities for PR, dick stroking and treasury tapping would be considerably reduced. *yawn*

  11. its a start ….lets see the process….

  12. Anybody this government touch gets Korrupted just a matter of time for Sanco….Sancho.

    • Hannibal Najjar

      Given our stage in the women football, I believe that the timing of Minister Brent Sancho’s thrust to add a women’s football pro-league is about perfect if not, marginally overdue. The thing I will caution about however, is the size of the proposed league – it must not exceed 4-6 teams in the beginning as the dilution will cause a quality setback. And, any addition of teams must be carefully analyzed and properly spaced out.
      As for getting business involved, the hearts of businessmen are scarred and I might suggest that at this time an approach for individual sponsorship of individual players might be an old but workable way. These things said, I only hope that this is not just a spasm and link to a popularity move, similar to affairs as they are run here in the US and places where the women votes count. I happen to have a very good insight into Brent’s heart and mind, and, the motives of his appointment aside, but I believe that he is an excellent choice for this VERY CRITICAL position in the country. A representative of causes, this role corners the Minister to make the choices that are for the greater good and I believe that he has both the acumen and desire to serve in this pivotal-to-the-nation role. As a matter, I am so much in belief that he is that poised to deliver, if this Government was to fail at the next poll, I will, as the incoming Prime Minister, approach him to continue in this capacity.

  13. details,,,,a Government pro league…….life sport…….set a dumb dumb we are……shi……

  14. Seems cart-before-the-horse to me. I look on with interest.

  15. yeh because the men’s verison is so well run and self sustaining, this saddis is truly a politician, gimme a break.

  16. How about stage one being – a well run high school league so the girls could get scholarships to universities in North America and Europe. Then in 3 years you start the pro league. We really hate process and policy… Or I forgot, it’s an election year so if it dies in two years, so be it…. SMH