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Maylee, Kennya refuse to join Women Warriors under current manager

Former Trinidad and Tobago National Women’s Senior Team captain Maylee Attin-Johnson and star attacker Kennya “Yaya” Cordner are refusing to represent their country, as the “Women Soca Warriors” remain divided since coming to international prominence during their Canada 2015 World Cup qualifying campaign.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago international football stars Kennya "Yaya" Cordner (left) and Maylee Attin-Johnson pose with the 2014 Caribbean Cup trophy. (Copyright Kerron Riley)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago international football stars Kennya “Yaya” Cordner (left) and Maylee Attin-Johnson pose with the 2014 Caribbean Cup trophy.
(Copyright Kerron Riley)

Cordner, who was a 2014 CONCACAF Player of the Year nominee, and Attin-Johnson have refused to play under current team manager, Sharon O’Brien, while former teammates Dernelle Mascall and previous vice-captain Ayanna Russell also allegedly opted out of the current Rio 2016 Olympic qualifying series.

And the disillusioned Women Warriors have company in former head coach Randy Waldrum, who also chose to remain in Dallas due to his concern about numerous administrative issues surrounding the programme and a lack of job security.

Cordner and Attin-Johnson, who were injured at the July Toronto 2015 Pan American Games are angry at their subsequent treatment from the TTFA and, in particular, O’Brien.

Cordner flew to Canada to seek medical treatment after being injured on international duty. And the former three-time Trinidad and Tobago Player of the Year was told she had to pay for her own trip home to play in the Olympic qualifiers, even though plane tickets were dispatched to other W/Warriors who were based in North America.

“Yaya paid for herself to go Canada to have her injuries taken care of,” said Waldrum, “and Sharon (O’Brien) said because she flew there on her own dime, she has to fly back on her dime.

“But she only went there because the (TTFA) wasn’t taking care of her in the first place…”

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Women's National Senior Team star Kennya Cordner touches down in Toronto for the July 2015 Pan American Games. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/TTOC)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Women’s National Senior Team star Kennya Cordner touches down in Toronto for the July 2015 Pan American Games.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/TTOC)

Cordner suffered a grade two MCL strain on her left knee after she collided with the opposing goalkeeper while scoring Trinidad and Tobago’s equaliser against Colombia on July 14. Her goal meant the Women Warriors retained a chance of qualifying for the semifinal round.

So, despite the injury, Cordner played in T&T’s final fixture, which ended in a 3-1 loss to Mexico. She then paid her own way to return to Canada for treatment at the LJR Physiotherapy Services.

Her ticket was subsequently reimbursed by the Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee (TTOC).

“I didn’t really look to the TTFA for help because of the TTFA’s financial situation and I could not risk waiting and not knowing when my treatment would start,” Cordner told Wired868. “I took the opportunity because I wanted a speedy recovery in order to rejoin the team for the Olympic Games.

“By doing this, I also assisted the TTFA by taking away that financial burden.”

Cordner was flabbergasted when Waldrum informed her that the TTFA would not pay for her return to join the squad.

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 on 2 December 2014. (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 on 2 December 2014.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

“I think it is very unprofessional that the TTFA would state that I’m responsible for paying my way to represent my country,” said the W/Warriors star, who is finishing her therapy in Seattle. “I’m cleared to play (by doctors here) so it’s disappointing that I won’t be representing my country in this upcoming tournament.

“I feel as though the current manager is being very vindictive towards me because there are five other players (based in North America) they (bought) tickets for.

“I do wish the team nothing but the best but I can’t subscribe to the current management they have in place.”

Former national captain, Attin-Johnson, slammed the TTFA’s stance on the outspoken Cordner as unforgivable.

“How in heaven’s name can a manager of the national team say Kennya has to pay her own way?” asked Attin-Johnson. “Is she representing us or St Lucia? For me, it shows it is a personal vendetta against Yaya because they brought in Lauryn (Hutchinson) and (Victoria) Swift but not her.

“Kennya is the one player who would play with a broken foot for Trinidad and Tobago. How can I accept that (treatment of her) as captain?

“And it is not just because she is my friend. I could never accept that for anyone.”

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)

O’Brien did not deny asking Cordner to pay for her own airfare back to Trinidad. However, the W/Warriors manager suggested that the problem was partly down to miscommunication.

She did not elaborate.

“Kennya is an issue that we are trying to sort out,” O’Brien told Wired868. “I prefer to keep that private and we will deal with that behind closed doors.

“I feel communication was bad in Kennya’s case, so I am trying to see if I can rectify that situation.”

For now, Attin-Johnson is inconsolable. The gifted playmaker, who said she has recovered from injury at the Pan Am Games, said she will not wear national colours once O’Brien is team manager.

She explained too that she knows her request will not be an easy one for Tim Kee to fulfil—even if he wanted to—as O’Brien is the president of WOLF (Women’s League Football), which has two votes at the upcoming TTFA elections.

Photo: WOLF president and Trinidad and Tobago Women's National Senior Team manager Sharon O'Brien (centre).
Photo: WOLF president and Trinidad and Tobago Women’s National Senior Team manager Sharon O’Brien (centre).

“For her to be a manager of a national team is unacceptable and I won’t sacrifice my body for people like that,” said Attin-Johnson, who claimed that many current players are also frustrated. “If I am not going to put my heart and soul into something, it is better I remove myself from it…

“The most difficult thing for me is knowing you worked your ass off to give a certain brand and identity to the women’s program, just to see it destroyed by one selfish individual…

“We are in 2015 and I am not going to take five or 10 goals from America again. And I am not going to make a fool of myself for a trip to Hawaii (for a high profile friendly against the United States).

“I am very proud of my contribution to the women’s national team and, by extension, Trinidad and Tobago. But not even God can tell me play for Sharon O’Brien.”

O’Brien responded that she thought Attin-Johnson was still injured. She declined comment on the former national captain’s stance.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago captain Maylee Attin-Johnson (left) tussles with United States attacker Alex Morgan (centre) while Tasha St Louis looks on during 2014 CONCACAF action in Kansas City. (Copyright Kyle Rivas/AFP 2014)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago captain Maylee Attin-Johnson (left) tussles with United States attacker Alex Morgan (centre) while Tasha St Louis looks on during 2014 CONCACAF action in Kansas City.
(Copyright Kyle Rivas/AFP 2014)

“Maylee, as far as I understand, is still injured (because) she has never indicated to me that she is fit and ready to come back to train,” said O’Brien, who claimed she never had a falling out with Attin-Johnson or Cordner. “That is Maylee’s choice (not to play). Maylee and them have their own agenda.”

The Women Warriors whipped St Lucia 6-0 on Friday and 8-1 tonight to breeze into the Caribbean semifinal round and a match-up with Jamaica on Wednesday at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva.

The top three nations from Jamaica, Guyana, Puerto Rico and T&T will advance to next February’s CONCACAF Olympic qualifying rounds in the United States. Only two CONCACAF teams will progress to the Rio Olympics.

O’Brien said the W/Warriors squad, which includes Arin King, Ahkeela Mollon, Tasha St Louis, Lauryn Hutchinson and Janine Francois, will be further strengthened on Tuesday with the return of Karyn and Kimika Forbes and Khadidra Debesette, just 24 hours before the Caribbean semifinals.

“I personally believe that, after months with no training, the girls are beginning to gel again now that they are in camp,” said O’Brien, “and I expect them to do well as per usual.”

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)

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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84 comments

  1. The TTFA Administration not only lets down the players but also the referees… Referees have not been paid in however, especially for these Women’s SSFL and WOLF. Time for change!!! It’s only because referees are in it for the love and progression of the sport that they are still fulfilling matches. Also note, this affects both off and on the field performances. Hope after this Election on Nov 29th 2015, we see dramatic changes and the sport of football beings to progress both on and off the field.

  2. They get f***ing bright New goverment in power That was the past

  3. Young women, as professionals, proper guidance is always best when faced with multiple dilemma. Sometimes it’s difficult especially when one wants to express his or her feeling in the “damest “of situations. but must be reminded of your position/s. You’ll are not bigger than the game; its a team spirit and much to be had for the future. Ask Phil Simmons about moral values and ethical principles and how important it is to one’s future. There are other ways and means in treating with situations as they arise, as proffessionals

  4. Seems like the more things ‘change’ the more they stay the same.
    This kind of treatment has been going on for years. I’m glad at least she got the money back.
    I can understand the captain’s ‘passion’ but her argument comes across as more emotional than anything else. As was said by others, there’s probably a whole lot more to this story.
    As for the Manager, she just comes across as uncaring… and yes, there are lots of people who have played, have gone and qualified themselves and yet STILL KNOW that they stand no chance of stepping into these positions that will allow for sustainable growth and development of a program… but who really cares???

  5. These girls represent with everything they have how could we turn around n treat any one of them this way I support their stance 100

  6. ..I have a different take on this – Not that I question what they are experiencing . . . . .Someone NEEDS to guide them – Protest IN WRITING to the Manager first , in a polite manner . AND copy that complaint with its necessary advice to the Minister In Charge Of Sport . .. In 10 days WRITE again …..Then if No feedback , take the same concerns to Express or Guardian and Newsday . Advising us , the Trinidad fan , that You will be taking a 2 months holiday ( recuperating something ) ….The HEADLINE of REFUSE To Join ? ? …….Remember – Our Players are still YOUNG . They need guidance in cases like this . …( Latapy was the MOST villified Player – He could have played and honoured for the full 90 minutes in Scotland – But Our COACH had him on the Bench MOST of the matches ) .. . Did the coach change ?……The General was always HERE ready to PLAY , and even ready To COACH Trinidad .. . . ..So , I understand their feeling ,But WE can still support a call for their re-introduction back into football . . .

  7. It would be normal for the President of the TTFA to be named the manager of the senior Men’s football team. It would be normal for the President of the TTOC to be the Chef de Mission. It would also be normal for the President of the TTCB to be the manager of the National Cricket team and it probably won’t raise an eyebrow in Trinidad and Tobago. Btw, how many votes does the Player’s Association get in the elections? Ha. What Player’s Association? I had to resurface to let everybody know that all parties are talkin’ sh_t right round. A manager has a duty to seek the interests of the human resources to get better output. The Players have a duty to build an organisation that seeks the interests of all its members not just a select few.

  8. I respect the manager they are not coming into the public to bring the game and the team into disrepute, and this is not a now issue ask Dwight and latas and all the rest but their approach was different and these girls need to humble themselves and I don’t agree with the way management operated!