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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 managing director and chief 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. oh gosh man , is there anything we can do in this country without someone thieving, or some kind ah corruption, .

  2. As much as I respect Kennya and company a little change sometimes is good and I believe this matter would be addressed because the girls got talent.

  3. We need to place the right people to manage.Otherwise we would be saddled with mediocrity.

  4. That’s why when athletes ply their trade with America, you cant vex with them.

  5. I need to retake my job as the Manager…..

  6. Yaya don’t matter what u chose to do your whole family is behind u hun leave them up to God thank God that your OK and better and harder than before

  7. Yeah. That’s true Keith. But I was hoping that they could get some sponsorship money in there and ride the wave/bandwagonism. And other women teams would have benefited too.

  8. ..That was always a mirage Lasana. One team is not a programme…

  9. Very sad. The women’s programme is crumbling after everything looked so promising a few months ago.

  10. Something has to be terribly wrong if a player gets injured whilst on national duty and then has to pay for therapy and airfare out of their own pocket. What’s the use in wanting to represent ur country if u have to seemingly pay for that honour?

  11. Bakes

    If YaYa was injured during the PanAm Games then it is the responsibility of the TTOC to pay for her travel and treatment resulting from the injury.

  12. Sure they have Colin. You just can’t use them in polite company.

  13. Caribbean sports administrators. Oxford dictionary has not yet invented the words to describe these lot..

  14. The last paragraph of this article sums up why most administrators should not even watch sport on tv. How on earth as a manager you can be comfortable with saying “after months of no training we will still do well” . This is a ntnl sr team smh.

  15. A case of poor governance! If I were in these players’ shoes, I would have done the same as a matter of principle.

  16. I don’t want to sound contrary I know some managers are bad for a team but so are some players and miss Johnson is bad for t&t football and if we continue to give that girl the recognition that we do the gain we made will quickly evaporated

  17. Keith Look Loy, can you help us to understand what ails national football? Why is it that administrative spanners keep getting thrown in the works? Are the problems really structural or is the process of “natural” selection so flawed that we keep getting only square pegs for round holes? Speak, brother, and help us understand…

  18. Women Soca Warriors coach Randy Waldrum wants job security; T&T coach lifts lid on frustrating internal issues but requests chance to lift women’s game
    http://wired868.com/2015/11/15/wwarriors-coach-sidelined-waldrum-wants-chance-to-fix-tt-womens-game/

  19. Lasana Liburd you are absolutely correct. In some cases these managers and executives does act like the money belongs to them…

  20. Lack of accountability I think. More than a lack of resources.

  21. Gordon, I thank you for your kind words. I love my sport especially football and cricket, and it pains me to see where we have headed. We need to find a way to reverse this trend, and I will help in any way that I can.
    Kirwin, I managed the Soca Warriors in 2005-2006 and to the World Cup Finals, and Cornell was never a problem. He voiced his opinion when he felt he should and there was never an issue. I remember only too well being with him when he was injured in the last game in Germany, and he cried over the injury that he felt kept him from making a contribution. I had lots of problems consoling him. He remains a good friend who gave his all for his country.

    • I was referring to an article that Lasana posted last week. In it Cornell discussed how he missed opportunities due to being injured while on national duty, no follow up, and absence of care. Just saying Ms. Attin-Johnson’s & Ms. Cordner’s plight is similar

  22. Similar to Cornell Glenn and co. In early 2000s

  23. I’m so happy that someone stands up for what they believe in even if it means being blacklisted

  24. This is very unfortunate. These are two top players who we need to be fully focused on the team. There must be more in the mortar than the pestle, but this needs to be resolved. Since government intervention is not an option, the TTFA President is part of government, there is no General Secretary of the TTFA, the Vice Presidents are out of the loop, and no body seems to care, please tell me how this matter can be resolved?????
    I think that the TTFA administration need to step aside and allow professionals to address the interpersonal issues.
    As to the two ladies I say, take time to think through your decisions. You may be right, but doing it the wrong way. When this happens, the wrongs of others gets washed away by your wrong approach to finding a resolution. Be careful who you trust to advise you. Are they capable, dispassionate and qualified to advise. Not seeking to discredit anyone since I do not have the details.

    • Mr Bruce Aanensen my respect for you have grown in leaps and bounds these pass few days after i was willing to rip off ur head before!!! Lol u have hit the nail on the head like if you have the inside scoop great advice oh wise one!!

  25. These injury horror stories … why do associations treat their athletes so shabbily?

  26. Smh administration and players them self sometimes need to find a way to work things out and stop look for attention because this is bigger then all of them wht would the future look like….

    • That means having behavioural scientists assigned to the team on an ongoing basis so that these issues can be properly managed in the context of how the affected parties want to come out of the experience feeling – as human beings, rather than as solely a sports person. Sadly, the focus is on the sport; and the wholeness of the person is cast aside.

  27. Sorry to hear. This is some tough stuff. I tend to lean towards them joining the team n fighting the battle from that vantage point. Now that their fans r aware they (we) can help by fighting from the outside, while they fight from the inside.

  28. The quotes in that last paragraph get me giddy yes. She really said that Lasana ?

  29. Will someone spill the beans here? Cause there must be more to it. This sounds VERY incomplete. One thing I have to say based on the actual content of the story however – no manager is supposed to be ASSUMING that the captain is still injured or not abreast with why your star player is in another country. These are details you should be well informed of well in advance as there should be constant communication between the admin and the players always in these situations.

  30. Lasana Liburd i warned u about this story!! Will just say
    u really is the last sports reporter because all the traditional media writing about the women the team captain, most infleuncial player and appointed coach not present but we get a TTFA prepared statement on the papers and tv!!! My personal thoughts and the Real story i will say no more!! but remember i warned you great work!!

  31. Interesting. Clearly theres background info thats not coming out. I want to believe that the captain could have handled this more diplomatically however.

  32. You know what hurts in this scenario it seems there isn’t anyone that can fill a management portfolio other than these folks and this hurts for people like myself coming up these people look after themselves and there friends Trinidad football will only grow when people is hired on accreditation and not on friendships

  33. This treatment is disgusting. How the heck do people like O’Brian get to be managers? We have so much talent and it’s always being kicked around by administrators. Football. .cricket. .you name it.. we can’t seem to attract good managers and administrators.

  34. The basketballers have it veryyyy hard. The sport may not be as popular in T&T than football, but their supporters and players are serious. Yet the basketball federation is among the worst run associations in the country. Ironically, some of the most minor sports have the best functioning associations.

  35. because of the ‘bandwagonists’.

  36. I feel worse for the local basketballers. The state of that federation! My my… Look who the general secretary is…

  37. Lasana Liburd…there is obviously more to this story…what it is boy??? lol!

  38. Something is clearly wrong here and it would be interesting to hear what other players think.

  39. Our administrative structure lets down its players in so many sporting disciplines.

  40. Why is there always confusion, especially when teams begin to perform

  41. Imagine how far our men and women’s teams would have gone by now if politics and personalities weren’t relevant. I really feel it for Yaya.