Another day, another blow for Trinidad and Tobago’s football.
The “Women Soca Warriors” left San Antonio this morning for Brazil where they will join a makeshift Trinidad and Tobago squad to compete in the Natal Female International Tournament. But they travelled shorthanded.
Head coach Randy Waldrum and his assistant coach Ben Waldrum did not make the trip, due to visa issues arising from the late decision to play in Brazil. And neither did goalkeeper Kimika Forbes, defenders Lauryn Hutchinson and Brianna Ryce and midfielder Janice Johnson for a variety of reasons.
Stand-in captain and defensive lynchpin, Arin King, did make the trip though and she and her seven colleagues will join the 13 players in Natal.
Assistant coach Anthony Creece will have just one day to turn the two groups of players into a cohesive squad to face Canada, who are ranked 11th in the world by FIFA. And he only has one goalkeeper, Tenesha Palmer—who was a substitute for Women’s Premier League (WPL) club, Wave—at his disposal.
It is unlikely to be a seamless transition since, according to Waldrum, the head coach and assistant coach are yet to discuss team philosophy and rarely communicate with each other.
“I have spoke to Creece before the Brazil game and he shared with me how he is going to play formation-wise,” Waldrum told Wired868, “but I haven’t heard from him since the game, so I don’t know what is going on…
“In fairness to Creece and myself, when you get into a camp with the things that are happening behind the scenes, you are running ragged trying to get things prepared in terms of meals and transportation and everything else. So we are communicating the best we can.
“But I only had the one week I was back in Trinidad to work with Creece… So we haven’t had the chance to even discuss the philosophy of how I want to play.”
It has been a whirlwind two week spell for Trinidad and Tobago football since the election of new president David John-Williams on November 29.
The Brazil tour was initially touted as an example of Williams’ ability to improvise and get things done. But public reaction cooled after the Women Warriors lost 11-0 to the hosts in their opening fixture while a proposed boycott from the national senior men’s team divided opinions.
The “US Victory Tour” was arranged by Williams’ predecessor and the mismanagement of the women’s team under Raymond Tim Kee’s watch always spelled trouble for the two island republic.
Waldrum had just 17 players available on Thursday night, after defender Liana Hinds and utility player Karyn Forbes had to leave the camp for exams, and some were making their debuts under the coach. And the squad was not close to match fit.
It led to the Women Warriors being brushed aside 6-0 by a US squad that put a solitary goal past them in the 2014 Women’s CONCACAF Championship.
“We only had three practice sessions to prepare the team and there were some new players who we never saw in a game,” said Waldrum. “So we felt we would be competitive for as long as our fitness levels would take us and that is exactly what happened.
“We didn’t threaten but we were somewhat organised for as long as we could… We just were not physically where we needed to be. So, we could have only worked on staying compact over three days and hope we could create something on the counter.”
The United States managed just one goal in the first half and it was a very debatable penalty kick, which was dispatched by team captain Carli Lloyd. But the floodgates opened in the second half, as the North American team scored five times in the last 35 minutes.
Waldrum, who pointed out that the team was without captain Maylee Attin-Johnson, Anique Walker and the injured Khadisha Debesette as well as Hinds and Karyn, suggested that the Women Warriors did make a point, despite the lopsided result.
“We faded in the last 25 or 30 minutes,” said Waldrum. “But then we are playing against the World Cup champs and a team that is in-form and has resources and is playing year-round.
“It is the difference between a team that has everything and a team that has nothing. That is the result you saw.
“Hopefully, they will see back home that we can compete on a world stage if we have the right resources. I hope our new board and president see that and give us the resources going forward.”
Waldrum pointed out that, in the 2015 World Cup qualifying campaign, the Women Warriors were not properly prepared either. But, with just a bit more time together, they were able to put together a run that captured global attention.
Waldrum believes that, with a January camp, the Trinidad and Tobago women’s team will be ready to represent again in February’s Olympic qualifying competition.
“I do understand why we took the game,” Waldrum told Wired868. “But not all our players from here are going (to Brazil) and then they have one day to get two groups integrated. We needed the games but it wasn’t ideal in terms of preparation and it is hard to play those games if we don’t prepare.
“We need a camp in January to work together for three or four weeks, otherwise it will be the same result in the (Olympic) qualifiers.
“I don’t know what the new president’s plan is for the (coaching) staff but my plea is: get us what we need for the month of January.”
Waldrum reiterated that he wants to take on a more influential role in local football to help add structure to the women’s game and create an identity that runs vertically through senior and youth teams.
“We have to do better or we will continue for the next 10 or 20 years being in the same position and getting the same results,” said Waldrum. “This has been a continuing theme in our football… We can’t keep getting together a day or two before events.
“With a little bit of preparation, we lost 1-0 to the US and were able to take Costa Rica and Mexico to overtime (in the 2014 Women’s CONCACAF Championship). And that was minimal preparation and we didn’t have that this time.”
Hopefully, the Women Warriors will get the necessary tools to leave their mark again at CONCACAF level. First, though, they have to make the most of a testing schedule in Natal with the Canada Women’s National Team and possibly two games against Mexico still to come.
(Trinidad and Tobago squad in Brazil)
Players: Tenesha Palmer, Maylee Attin-Johnson, Annalis Cummings, Sharain Cummings, Jenelle Cunningham, Joy Daniel, Renelle Findley, Shenelle Henry, Tamara Johnson, Jo Marie Lewis, Afiya Mathias, Anastasia Prescott, Melissa Woo Ling.
Staff: Anthony Creece (coach), Steve Fredericks (equipment manager), Benyam Astorga (trainer) and Kendall Walkes (technical director).
Players: Arin King, Khadidra Debesette, Janine Francois, Ahkeela Mollon, Mariah Shade, Patrice Superville, Victoria Swift and Karyn Forbes.
Staff: Clayton Ince (goalkeeper coach), Michael Taylor (physio), Claire George (equipment manager) and Sharon O’Brien (manager).
Players: Kimika Forbes, Saundra Baron, Lauryn Hutchinson, Amira Walcott, Liana Hinds, Danielle Blair, Brianna Ryce, Janice Johnson, Nia Walcott, Tasha St Louis and Kennya Cordner.
Staff: Randy Waldrum (head coach) and Ben Waldrum (assistant coach).