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Maylee vs Sharon: a football agent offers solution to W/Warriors crisis

With the absence of a football players’ union in Trinidad and Tobago, the burning issue of the absence of some of our better women’s national players from the “Women Soca Warriors” is destined to be a one-sided affair.

As the head of what many consider to be the leading sport management company in our region, I thought it a perfect opportunity to present a few thoughts and  solutions on the issue at hand.

Photo: TBL boss and football agent, Narada Wilson (right), and Trinidad and Tobago women's football star Maylee Attin-Johnson.
Photo: TBL boss and football agent, Narada Wilson (right), and Trinidad and Tobago women’s football star Maylee Attin-Johnson.

As part of the 2014 Brazil World Cup Organising Committee and as a TBL sports executive and football agent to some top players including two present senior national women’s players, I am aware of the round the clock schedule for football administrators.

We all heard about the stance taken by our former women’s captain Maylee Attin-Johnson two weeks ago, as she decided not to represent her country because of differences with team manager Sharon O’Brien.

Attin-Johnson’s opinion is also shared by a few more members of the team but, as often happens, players stay quiet and continue to play, due to their passion for the game; or they just say: ‘Leave it to God.’

The Manager of any national team is the link between the decision makers, such as the board of Directors, and the players. So, communication is key; and if one isn’t effectively communicating or does not have the ear of all, then how can they be effective in doing their job?

Imagine a bank teller saying that your account was accessed and funds removed but the only way you can get answers about a possible remedy to your loss would be to fly to the head office in Canada for information. If that happened, I am positive you will choose to do business with another bank.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Women's National Senior Team playmaker Maylee Attin-Johnson (left) has a word with TBL boss and football agent, Narada Wilson.
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Women’s National Senior Team playmaker Maylee Attin-Johnson (left) has a word with TBL boss and football agent, Narada Wilson.

Well, some of the issues affecting the Women Warriors that have created problems include: old uniforms, male uniforms being used, non-payment of stipends, not understanding policy of payments when abroad on duty, not knowing when a player will travel, being unaware of who and where your technical staff is or coming from.

I’m assuming the workload is too much. The men’s “Soca Warriors” have three managers, each possibly handling different aspects of the team. If our senior women’s team is the ‘flagship female team’ then why do we only have one manager?

The women’s manager may be further occupied since she holds a position on the board of directors, heads the women’s league, handles Caribbean Football Union (CFU) duties for women’s tournaments held in Trinidad and Tobago and manages the FIFA TMS system for international transfers involving players from the domestic league.

To me, these are all full-time positions which are laden with challenges and headaches.

So I have a question: Why would any person with several senior positions, try to hold on to a position that is somewhat of lesser stature?

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).

Nowhere does a board director hold on to a managerial positions at any club or international team, so why has it happened in Trinidad and Tobago’s women’s football? Is it being held to a lesser standard?

I proceed to think deeper.

What may be the benefits of holding on to such a position, especially when team managers have supposedly not been paid for months?

Maybe, the managerial position is enticing due to per diems or stipends provided by the government or other stakeholders; or the frequent trips might be some form of a paid vacation that may not be afforded in other circumstances.

All these points lead to a solution. But first, let me inform you of the risks.

The Women Warriors were said to be at 80 percent fitness and two top class games (against the United States) were supposed to help our players get closer to 100 percent by February.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago winger Ahkeela Mollon (right) flicks the ball around Puerto Rico midfielder Laura Suarez during 2016 Olympic qualifying action at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva. (Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago winger Ahkeela Mollon (right) flicks the ball around Puerto Rico midfielder Laura Suarez during 2016 Olympic qualifying action at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva.
(Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)

But, with the exclusion of some top players for various reason and others de-motivated while in camp, we risk that, by next February’s 2016 CONCACAF Olympic qualifiers, we might have players—like Attin-Johnson and Ayanna Russell—with varying degrees of fitness to those who remained with the team once the issues are settled.

Our sporting culture needs to change. The product is the most important thing and the product is the footballers.

The solution?

I am happy to nominate three young, educated, travelled, financially secure  men with football management experience, who all the players are comfortable with  and have worked with before in different capacities.

I can also name four women who I believe would be an asset to the team as they are again well educated in sport management, have the experience and, more-so, the respect of the players.

I have not spoken to these persons about this but I am positive once needed an agreement would be reached. They are: Sherlan Cabralis, her qualifications speak volumes and simply because she can challenge any sports administrator in this country.

Photo: The "Women Soca Warriors" enjoy a good result during the 2014 CONCACAF Championship. (Courtesy CONCACAF)
Photo: The “Women Soca Warriors” enjoy a good result during the 2014 CONCACAF Championship.
(Courtesy CONCACAF)

Calisia and Calistra Gregoire, young, enthusiastic and honest-hearted in the sports administration world and both carry international sports qualifications under their belts. And lastly, Morvant/Caledonia United official Ricarda Nelson, who is now the second most senior female administrator in the Pro League due to Renee John-Williams’ promotion to the W Connection CEO.

Nelson is straightforward and gets the job done. Full stop.

I will end by saying to the national players: differences are never the problem, instead it is people who are not strong enough to deal with it and still get what is needed done.

Being an agent, I have worked with all types of players but our success rate remains at 100 because our purpose is ‘product’ driven.

The present manager holds other positions, so she loses nothing. A new manager can come in as an interim, in order to have all the players on board and focused for the upcoming matches.

Photo: Former Trinidad and Tobago captain Maylee Attin-Johnson (number 9) is congratulated by Dernelle Mascall (second from right) and her teammates after her successful penalty kick against Guatemala in 2015 World Cup qualifying action. (Courtesy CONCACAF)
Photo: Former Trinidad and Tobago captain Maylee Attin-Johnson (number 9) is congratulated by Dernelle Mascall (second from right) and her teammates after her successful penalty kick against Guatemala in 2015 World Cup qualifying action.
(Courtesy CONCACAF)

And, after February’s Olympic qualifiers, the TTFA’s board can sit, analyse and make a decision to either return to the old or remain with the new. But at least then football would not be affected.

About Narada Wilson

Narada Wilson
Narada Wilson is a sport executive at The Brazil Link (TBL) and is an agent for several football players including Trinidad and Tobago women's star, Ahkeela Mollon.

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  1. What sort of “solution” is this? I’m not even sure these suggestion merit publication. Narada Wilson is a fella I have respect for but respectfully this article comes off as him putting his mouth in thing just to be in thing. You haven’t offered a solution, you’ve offered recommendations for O’Brien’s removal…. which may or may not be merited. If it is that you believe that she should be removed, then couch this in the proper stance that it is, a position of advocacy.

    You are subliminally making the case that she should be removed, what with the recap of how many positions she holds, and the team using “old” uniforms and what not, so why disingenuously cloak it in the form of offering a “solution.” Further, by nature of your profession one has to ask the question of motives, are these individuals friends? Clients? Is this a situation of “jobs for the boys” now that the old administration has been swept out and opportunities seemingly for the taking?

    Not one word from on on the propriety of a player dictating who should or should not be on an administrative staff? What next… she won’t play for TnT because the receptionist watch she “bad eye” when she walk in the office? The chef using Starch instead of Julie mango in the fruit platter?


  2. Though a last minute offer. I honestly believe, Trinidad could play the first USA game with a full squad, as the game in Hawaii is historical, on the 7th the team can head to Brazil and play in that tournament. The “b” team should play the second USA match with maybe some from the under 20 if out of competition as they have lacked matches. Playing the USA twice may not be better than a USA then Brazil as the USA may well not field their starting 11 for both games. This however would present challenges as visas from the ‘b’ team would have to be arranged by in time for the game on the 10th. Keep in mind, USA nationals need visas for Brazil and yellow fever shots, hope all would be arranged.

  3. ..Is this the way a serious team operates? We are replacing Croatia with a 13-member team? Sometimes you just have to say No..

  4. The ‘B’ team has about 11 players to train with apparently all have played for the senior women’s team, even without the Under 20’s.We will have 13 available for the game against Brazil. I somehow feel if Maylee and Coach Creece were not available the Brazil tournament would have been turned down. But Waldrum approved of the idea as it was enough to build around. Not sure if he was aware that the U-20’s were away though.

  5. Lasana Liburd ur website is the football gospel to football followers who are not insiders when somethings is print on it by the editor they take it as the truth!!! Football insiders may read but not correct but followers will go with it as the truth!! The story is FILL with wrong info and u as the editor should ensure that the contributor at least get his facts straight he can paint it how he wants but get them straight!!! Otherwise i want to write on the missing girlfriend!!! lol the story have about the same creditibility!!

  6. If we remove, as KLL has done, the personalities from the frame, the issue takes on a completely different complexion. MAJ is a very compelling personality and the team is indisputably weakened by her absence. But can the organization reasonably allow itself to be blackmailed by a senior – or any – player? The answer is a clear no so…
    It needs, however, to be said that if among the players there is widespread dissatisfaction or even serious dissatisfaction with the manager’s performance, then the TTFA should at least convene a meeting to ventilate the issue. The team will not perform at optimum level in a poisoned atmosphere.

  7. Sean Powder

    1. This manager matter is internal and should be handled by the new Board. Folks are free to air their views on any medium they so choose, often it says more about them than those spoken about.

    2. The article raises one point that is not often shared in local football, that the players and the team are the product. Too often, much much too often our administrators with various ego sizes place themselves at the center of attention. The product is KING. No one wants to know the CEO/President of Carib, when we want a good beer we grab a cold Carib. No one needs to know the CEO/President of Angostura; every bar in the world has Angostura bitters and no one knows the CEO. My point is that our administrators are not helping our brands nor our product. I wish the author had expanded this point as its worthwhile.

  8. Players need to focus on playing and let management manage. If there are grievances take it up with the players union (non existent in this case) or turn in your boots or force the creation of said Union. As a player you always need to remember that you are replaceable and by acting like this you are forcing the governing body to choose, which if it goes in your favour on makes them look weak, so I doubt that would be the case. Just my two cents…

  9. Sharon is not the only person in the TTFA with too many jobs.

  10. We just have to hope that they exceed our expectations.

  11. The U20 team would be eliminated if they don’t advance to the semifinals. But I’m not sure if our first team is ready at the moment, let alone our second and third string teams.
    It is rough. But I guess we have to start from somewhere.

    • so y take d brazil tournament??? topical trini do a million things poorly and say we have to start some where

    • It’s a catch-22. When do we ever get friendlies for the women’s team? We don’t have the luxury of picking and choosing. On de one hand we could get ah setta licks and be demoralized, but how else are we supposed to prepare for the Olympic Qualifiers on such short notice anyway? Just training and playing WOLF teams? It’s not ideal, but when is it ever for T&T football?

    • yea but hear the genius of this idea! The u 20 playing this week the A team playing on the 6th and 10th in the usa at the same time the B team in brazil from the 6 th to the 20th to play brazil canada and mexico with the A team to join after the 10th if not a reciepe for injuries definitely one for embrassment!!! From a coaching point of veiw i want to know the value??

    • According to Waldrum, he’ll be able to see a wider pool of players.

    • tell him leave texas come trinidad and have trials and scout!! bc he can not be in usa and brazil at the same time and if he reach brazil on the 12th he sure aint seeing much bc that team might done be elimatinated already !! Donot fool our selves TT can support two women teams at the same time against four top teams in the world!! why we like to make ourselves laughing stocks so!!

    • I think the only thing whoever agreed to this tournament was thinking of when they agreed to the tournament was the opportunity for Trinidad and Tobago to play Canada and Mexico ahead of the Olympic qualifiers in February. I really don’t think any consideration was given to anything else… fatigue, injury, availability of players etc etc.

    • Chabeth you hit the nail on the head. And that cannot be a good recipe

  12. i wonder how football usa will feel knowing that the most recognisable face on TT team is in brazil the same time as the usa victory tour games!!! And can TT really field two teams to match canada, mexico, brazil and the usa almost at the same time??? Keeping in mind the u 20 also playing a tournament!!

  13. Sorry about byline Dennis Allen. It should have read Narada Wilson. That is being adjusted now.

  14. Maylee is in the team which will take part in the invitational tournament in Brazil next week.

  15. I was lost to this article’s purpose and the intent of the author. What is/are the problem/s that have cause the fraction. The solution provided by the author WILL NOT SOLVE the problems only defer them to a later date. And what if the solution is accepted and players then make similar complaints of the new manager?

  16. ..LOL..People should try coaching/managing a team – any team – for a week. Then they would learn what is imvolved in managing the politics and the personalities. After all, the other players and Waldrum accepted O’Brien. And I don’t think he is a TTFA stooge..

  17. Where to start:

    1. Football agent to which players? Is Maylee one of them?
    2. If Maylee (as much as I like her) wants to advance her TV career, go ahead
    3. All Contracts should be in writing and a copy passed to the respective agent (if any)
    4. That’s a lot of hats for the manager to be wearing, but is managing the womens’ team really full time (genuine question), considering they haven’t played much in the past, the pace is only just picking up
    5. He made some reference to travel and paid holiday, is he trying to say something in a smart way?
    And lastly, as per Dennis Allen’s observations, this sounds like axe-grinding, we need to hear from Sharon O’Brien to answer some of the questions raised in the article.

  18. IMO bro, you should have let the writer post under their own ID and pitched it under the op-ed section…
    some of this reads like pot-shots and i usually see resumes like these posted on linkedin…not wired868

  19. sounds like a proxy axe-grinder get ah bly o_O

  20. ..I am not dealing in personalities. And God knows the TTFA is not blameless. But there is a protocol for handling issues. Or should be. And that cannot seriously include a player, no matter who or how important, essentially attempring to bully the asociation into having her way. Transpose this situation to any serious work place. You expect the boss to concede to one worker on a head to head and seriously expect to retain other workers’ respect and control of the work place? There is a way to handle grievances. In this sitiation either O”Brien or Attin-Johnson will win, the other will lose. Next the players will decide who they want for coach?

  21. Lasana Liburd u are the last sports reporter before u give people space on ur website make sure there is no conflict of interest!! More than that make sure his facts are correct and in context as well shocked u would have facts from another manager term crossed with this one as points against the manager

  22. Keith Look Loy i have to agree and the author is speaking of managerial issues before sharon time because she have only recently appointed manager this will in fact b her first tour so there is more in the mortar than the pestle!!! Ricarda Nelson is an excellent choice tho!!

  23. I don’t think there is an assistant manager Joan Layne. It is a bad precedent if there are no grounds Keith Look Loy.
    If there are found to be legitimate complaints, then fair game.
    Although Narada raises some good points as to whether she should have been a manager in the first place.

  24. Is there an Assistant Manager and if there is, what is her/his relationship with the players?

  25. ..No player can select the team staff. And I don’t know the issue and I am not taking sides.If there is a problem, sort it out in-house. Not in the media. Player power is a waste of time where staffing is concerned. If yuh leh de goat go yuh hadda leggo de rope..