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Arin is WPL’s first round draft pick; but sponsors and fixtures missing

Trinidad and Tobago’s 2014 Player of the Year and “Women Soca Warrior” defender Arin King had the distinction of being the first selection of the inaugural Women’s Premier League League (WPL) draft, which was held yesterday afternoon at the Hasely Crawford Stadium’s VIP Lounge in Port of Spain.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago defender and 2014 Player of the Year Arin King (left) in action against Guatemala during the 2014 CONCACAF Championship. (Copyright Patrick McDermott/AFP 2015)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago defender and 2014 Player of the Year Arin King (left) in action against Guatemala during the 2014 CONCACAF Championship.
(Copyright Patrick McDermott/AFP 2015)

The six-team WPL tournament is due to kick off on Thursday June 18 with a double header at the St James Police Barracks. All games will be free of charge for patrons.

“Come and lime with your clip and enjoy some great football,” said Sport Minister Brent Sancho.

However, with just five days before kick off, the Ministry of Sport is yet to name the franchise holders for the respective outfits while the teams are still finalising their rosters. There are no fixtures for the competition available either.

By means of comparison, the United States’ Major League Soccer (MLS) draft was held on January 15 while coaches then had two months to prepare their team for the 2015 season opener on March 6.

In contrast, WPL coaches will have less than a week to conduct their pre-season training.

Sancho had fighting words for the small audience of roughly 60 people as he unveiled his brainchild.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Sport Minister and Senator Brent Sancho. Sancho is a former World Cup 2006 player and CEO of local Pro League club, Central FC. (Courtesy SPORTT)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Sport Minister and Senator Brent Sancho.
Sancho is a former World Cup 2006 player and CEO of local Pro League club, Central FC.
(Courtesy SPORTT)

“Do not use this opportunity to play politics with sports because the only people who suffer at the end of the day are our young athletes,” said the Sport Minister. “The WPL then is a tangible platform that our women warriors have earned in blood, sweat and tears…

“They deserve their own brand and their own legacy to pass on to future generations.”

The six teams named for the inaugural tournament are: Oilers, Fuego, Dragons, Rush, Wave FC and Angels. It offered little clue about the financial backers or geographic home base of the respective outfits.

One of the five teams, Oilers, was labelled as a “developmental team” which will comprise of university students and girls hoping to gain scholarships as well as National Under-20 and Under-17 players. They will be steered by Arnold Murray and National Under-17 Women’s Team coach Rajesh Latchoo.

Oilers did not participate in the draft but representatives from the other five outfits were there to select their marquee players.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago star Kennya "Yaya" Cordner (right) runs at the Guatemala defence during the 2014 CONCACAF Championship. (Courtesy CONCACAF)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago star Kennya “Yaya” Cordner (right) runs at the Guatemala defence during the 2014 CONCACAF Championship.
(Courtesy CONCACAF)

The coaches for the remaining clubs are: Anthony Creese and Jinelle Noel (Angels), Karla Aleman and Joanne Daniel (Dragons), Richard Hood and Joel Warrick (Fuego), Marlon Charles (Rush) and Derek Arneaud and Allister Ramdoo (Wave FC).

Maylee Attin-Johnson, Ahkeela Mollon, Kennya “Yaya” Cordner and King were among the Women Warriors in attendance as the coaches drew numbers to determine their fortune. The five teams had two rounds to select one player each.

Former Costa Rica National Women’s Team coach Karla Aleman seemed visibly excited as she pulled lucky number one and promptly selected King for the Dragons.

“I’m so glad to have gotten the first pick and choosing King,” Aleman told Wired868. “She has good leadership qualities and a good head on her shoulders… We need a good strong spine for the team and she was the only defender among the marquee players.”

Aleman said King, a tough and perceptive Canada-born defender, is the perfect starting point for her favoured 4-5-1 formation. The Dragons had the final pick of the second round and chose 22-year-old Manchester native, Isabella Hayes.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago attacker Ahkeela Mollon (left) tries to win space from Costa Rica right back Diana Saenz during the 2014 Women's CONCACAF Championship. (Courtesy CONCACAF)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago attacker Ahkeela Mollon (left) tries to win space from Costa Rica right back Diana Saenz during the 2014 Women’s CONCACAF Championship.
(Courtesy CONCACAF)

After the Dragons flew off with King, ex-National Women’s Team senior coach Marlon Charles scooped up skilful winger Ahkeela “Lady Latapy” Mollon as the second pick of the first round for his Rush team.

Charles’ next pick went to the US Virgin Islands goalkeeper Emily Marie Cota.

Wave chose third and they might have the most potent strike force in the competition as they selected Cordner and Jamaican striker Shakira Duncan in their two rounds.

“Ideally, we would have gone with Arin King, Yaya or Ahkeela Mollon but they were already chosen,” said Hood, whose Fuego team selected fourth.

He went for Jamaican midfielder Christina Murray, who was the first foreign player selected in the draft.

“Our top foreign player was always going to be Murray,” said Hood, who also coaches Pro League team, Police FC. “We were very impressed with what we saw of her in the scrimmages, especially with her quality and flair.”

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago attacker Tasha St Louis (right) keeps the ball away from Costa Rica midfielder Katherine Alvarado during the 2014 CONCACAF Women's Championship semifinals in Chester, Pennsylvania. (Copyright Mitchell Leff/AFP 2014)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago attacker Tasha St Louis (right) keeps the ball away from Costa Rica midfielder Katherine Alvarado during the 2014 CONCACAF Women’s Championship semifinals in Chester, Pennsylvania.
(Copyright Mitchell Leff/AFP 2014)

Fuego’s second round choice was no slouch either, as they selected veteran attacker Tasha St. Louis.

The Angels, who got the fifth pick of the first round, selected Women Warriors captain and playmaker Attin-Johnson and then further solidified their midfield with Jamaican Jodi Ann McGregor in the next round.

Maverick Trinidad and Tobago goalkeeper Kimika Forbes had a special place in the draw as she was the “Golden Ball” pick after the two rounds were completed.

All five coaches drew strips of paper and, one by one, turned them over to reveal blank sheets to the anticipating crowd. It boiled down to the Wave and Rush representatives.

Charles and Ramdoo unfolded their sheets simultaneously. And Ramdoo’s cheeky smile acknowledged that his Wave outfit had gotten a steal of a deal.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago goalkeeper Kimika Forbes (right) holds on to the ball while United States attack Abby Wambach looks on during the 2014 CONCACAF Championship. (Copyright AFP 2014)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago goalkeeper Kimika Forbes (right) holds on to the ball while United States attack Abby Wambach looks on during the 2014 CONCACAF Championship.
(Copyright AFP 2014)

After the draft, Arneud oversaw a scrimmage with players still vying for selection on one of the six WPL teams. The Women Warriors still available include Karyn Forbes, playmaker Dernelle Mascall and sisters Khadidra and Khadisha Debesette.

There is likely to be a scramble over the coming days as the WPL teams try to complete their rosters while the Sport Ministry finalises fixtures and venues.

Hood, a former National Women’s Team coach, is optimistic about the competition.

“Some of the girls are not up to standard but we expected that given the short period we had to work with the players,” he said. “If the initiative continues for another few years then we would be able to attract players from the better footballing nations around the region and raise the standard of the league.

“I think it’s a step in the right direction.”

Photo: Women's Premier League (WPL) coach Derek Arneaud (centre) talks to his combined squad, during a scrimmage against the "Women Soca Warriors.) (Courtesy Allan V. Crane/Wired868)
Photo: Women’s Premier League (WPL) coach Derek Arneaud (centre) talks to his combined squad, during a scrimmage against the “Women Soca Warriors.)
(Courtesy Allan V. Crane/Wired868)

Inaugural 2015 WPL Draft

Dragons: Coaches Karla Aleman and Joanne Daniel

First Pick (Round 1): Arin King (T&T); Fifth Pick (Round 2): Isabella Hayes (Eng);

Rush: Coach Marlon Charles

Second Pick (Round 1): Ahkeela Mollon (T&T); Fourth Pick (Round 2): Emily Marie Cota (USVI);

Wave FC: Coaches Derek Arneaud and Allister Ramdoo

Third Pick (Round 1): Kennya Cordner (T&T); Third Pick (Round 2): Shakira Duncan (Jam); Golden Ball Pick: Kimika Forbes (T&T);

Photo: Jamaica striker Shakira Duncan (left) shoots past Trinidad and Tobago goalkeeper Shalette Alexander during a practice match. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Ministry of Sport)
Photo: Jamaica striker Shakira Duncan (left) shoots past Trinidad and Tobago goalkeeper Shalette Alexander during a practice match.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Ministry of Sport)

Fuego: Coaches Richard Hood and Joel Warrick

Fourth Pick (Round 1) Christina Murray (Jam), Second Pick (Round 2): Tasha St Louis (T&T);

Angels: Coaches Anthony Creese and Jinelle Noel

Fifth Pick (Round 1): Maylee Attin-Johnson (T&T); First Pick (Round 2): Jodi-Ann McGregor (Jam).

About Roneil Walcott

Roneil Walcott
Roneil Walcott is an avid sports fan and freelance reporter with a BA in Mass Communication from COSTAATT. Roneil is a former Harvard and St Mary's College cricketer who once had lofty aspirations of bringing joy to sport fans with the West Indies team. Now, his mission is to keep them on the edge of their seats with sharp commentary from off the playing field.

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53 comments

  1. Of course King was the first player picked. Bess pick out

  2. Why is tge GOV’T starting a pro league?
    Not saying we don’t need to invest in the women’s game, but this is outside the normal parameters of state support for sport.
    In this land of bacchanal I have little faith that we would ever see value for money, or the best qualified people given the opportunity to serve.
    I expect to see the man who washes Mr. Sanko’s car show up as a coach/owner.