The Women Soca Warriors could kick off their France 2019 Women’s World Cup preparation with a rematch against Ecuador next month while the national players should also be offered retainer contracts soon.
Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) president David John-Williams made both revelations at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva yesterday during the unveiling of the Women’s National Senior Team head coach Carolina Morace.
John-Williams explained that his association has asked FIFA to play the potential grudge match as the second game of a potential double header for either of the Men’s National Senior Team’s World Cup qualifiers against Panama and Mexico on 24 and 28 March 2017 respectively.
FIFA rules do not permit any match to be played before a World Cup fixture.
The Ecuador women snatched a late 1-0 win on their last visit to Port of Spain in a FIFA Play Off contest on 2 December 2014 to edge Trinidad and Tobago to a spot in the Canada 2015 World Cup.
John-Williams did not say when the women players would be offered contracts but suggested that Morace was already charged with creating a shortlist.
“The sooner the better for us,” said John-Williams. “Carolina [Morace] is evaluating the players right now and maybe she will shortlist about 25 to 26 players. As soon as we get that shortlist, we will put things in motion for that.
“We need to work out the logistics of it, and added to that there is going to be a code of conduct that is going to be tied into the women’s programme as well.”
Morace, who officially began training the senior squad at the start of this week, is a former Italian national player and coach while she also coached Canada at the 2015 World Cup.
She will work in tandem with compatriots Elisabetta Bavagnoli and Manuela Tesse and Australian Nicola Williams. Williams will be her first assistant on the senior team as well as the National Under-20 Team head coach. Tesse will lead the National Under-17 Team while Bavagnoli will assist all three squads.
“All the teams will be related,” said Morace. “It does not mean that all the teams have to play the same system, which for us is wrong. But it will help the younger players be ready when they reach the senior team.”
TTFA technical committee member and ex-national player Jinelle James will operate as team manager.
Morace also has an Italian fitness trainer and goalkeeping coach in Trinidad although both are expected to leave by weekend. The new Women Warriors coach, according to a source, should eventually select a local goalkeeping coach.
But how will the TTFA pay for all of this?
John-Williams suggested that the TTFA will utilise a CONCACAF subvention of US$125,000 per year.
“There are certain revenues that are available to the TTFA that you’re not allowed [to use] to pay debts,” said the TTFA president. “I’m happy to say that the CONCACAF programme is going to finance the women’s programme.
“Don’t get the misconception that we’re contracting coaches and we can’t pay them—we have specific allocations. So therefore the US$125,000 that we get a year from CONCACAF is going to go into the women’s programme.”
No figure was given for the cost of the Women Warriors’ coaching staff but one insider gave an estimate of US$25,000 per month.
If accurate, it would mean that the TTFA could spend in the range of US$300,000 annually just on coaching salaries, before factoring in the cost for running the programme or offering player contracts. If John-Williams does have an alternative source of funding, he did not reveal it to the media.
At present, the TTFA is roughly US$2 million in debt—exclusive of the cost of former head coach Stephen Hart’s contract, which is worth close to US$500,000.
Morace said she was convinced to come to Trinidad and Tobago by the scale of John-Williams’ proposed project.
“He showed me that he wants to develop the women’s programme and he believes in the women’s programme,” said Morace, who held physical tests for her senior player pool. “In this country, there is a lot of potential. There are many [players] who are fit and that’s really important in football…
“We are surprised because some of them are already at a very good level, so they can just improve on where they are. This year we would not have any official competition so it will force us to get experience, to organise a lot of friendly matches, and to participate in some tournaments.”
Ecuador, hopefully, will be the Women Warriors’ first opponent.
Morace’s current player pool includes household names like Maylee Attin-Johnson, Kennya “Yaya” Cordner, Arin King, Karyn Forbes and her sister, Kimika Forbes, who recently signed for Colombia professional outfit, Independiente Santa Fe.
“[Morace’s decision to come here] is a huge boost for the women’s programme,” said John-Williams. “I think the opportunity presents itself now for Trinidad and Tobago to support the women’s programme.
“Carolina’s stay here goes beyond the national team, she’s going to be involved in grassroots programmes [and] coach education for women programmes. So it’s going to be a very holistic approach.”