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“Nero is fiddling while Rome burns!” T&T women beg for TTFA support while board urges DJW to act

The Trinidad and Tobago Women’s National Senior Team players have taken to social media to beg for support, as their preparation for the France 2019 World Cup remains hamstrung by the uncooperative Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA).

“[Twenty one] days away from our final stage of World Cup qualifier with NO CAMP & NO OFFICIAL COACH!!!!” stated Canada-based defender Arin King, on her Instagram page. “This is madness & we’ve had enough. Help us make a change for Women’s Football and to inspire Trinidad and Tobago! #ISTANDWITHTTWSW”

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago player Jonelle Cato uses Instagram to urge the TTFA to support the Women’s National Team.

The cry was mirrored on the social media pages of several other national players including Kennya “Yaya” Cordner, Liana Hinds, Karyn Forbes, Rhea Belgrave, Saundra Baron, Jonelle Cato and her husband Cordell Cato, who is a Men’s National Senior Team player. And defender Lauryn Hutchinson posted a video imploring well wishers to donate money to bring the team together in the United States.

“Four years ago, this was the same story, the same narrative,” said Hutchinson. “But it is even worse this time.”

In 2014, the Women Soca Warriors were infamously sent to Texas for the pre-tournament camp with just US$500, which was spent in a matter of hours to clear baggage and transport the team to their training base. And it prompted then coach Randy Waldrum to beg for donations to feed his players.

This time, the Trinidad and Tobago women’s team are not only short of money; they have no camp or coach either. And their chances of building on their fairytale 2014 run—which saw Trinidad and Tobago come within a whisker of the Canada 2015 World Cup and featured on ESPN—is already declining.

The Women Warriors returned from the Caribbean Championship two weeks ago. However, their attempts to prepare for next month’s Concacaf competition, which kicks on Thursday 4 October in North Carolina, USA, were dealt two gut punches.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago defender Lauryn Hutchinson (centre) screams for joy after scoring against Costa Rica in the 2014 Women’s CONCACAF Championship semifinal.
At right is defender Rhea Belgrave.
(Courtesy CONCACAF)

First, technical director and popular caretaker coach and Anton Corneal was ruled out of the job, after he pleaded with the football body to make a significant contribution towards his debt. The TTFA had not paid Corneal his salary in three months while the football body also owes him eight monthly payments towards a pre-existing debt.

Then came the issue of appointing a new women’s coach. Richard Quan Chan recommended Corneal’s assistant, Shawn Cooper, for the job via email to fellow board members.

However, half of the board insisted that TTFA president David John-Williams act according to the constitution and call a meeting for the task.

Four days later, John-Williams still refuses to budge.

“Six members of the TTFA Board—half of its members—have requested a meeting to address the appointment of a coach to the helm of our women’s team, which is now in a dire state,” stated board member Keith Look Loy, in an email to general secretary Justin Latapy-George. “Please speak with the TTFA President to call a meeting urgently.”

Fellow board member Collin Partap urged John-Williams to consider the welfare of the women’s players and put his ego aside for their sakes.

Photo: TTFA president David John-Williams (right) performs a duet with former Calypso Monarch, Cro Cro, at the launch of the National Elite Youth Development Program at the Trinidad Hilton on 14 October 2016.

“I share the sentiment of KLL, please let us have a board meeting to discuss the current state of affairs of the women’s national team,” said Partap. “For those who have their heads in the sand, the recent Facebook posts and and comments from sport reporters have [the] current administration looking like Nero, fiddling while Rome burns.

“Someone will have to give answers. I am again begging the president to call a board meeting to address the immediate issues.”

The Trinidad and Tobago Men’s National Under-20 Team would empathise with the Women Warriors. Today, coach Russell Latapy’s team were drawn with hosts USA, Puerto Rico, Suriname, the US Virgin Islands and St Vincent and the Grenadines for their Concacaf Championship, which kicks off on 1 November and serves as the qualifying series for the Poland 2019 Under-20 World Cup.

However, the Under-20s have not trained in two months, after Latapy complained that staff had grown demotivated by unpaid salaries and John-Williams’ supposedly discourteous and unprofessional treatment.

The Men’s National Under-17 Team have been off the boil for even longer, as they have not trained since April and also do not have a head coach, with their own qualifying series roughly six months away.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago defender Arin King voices her frustrations on Instagram and urges the TTFA to support the team for their Women’s World Cup qualifying series next month.

The Trinidad and Tobago women face action first and must defeat Panama and either Mexico or the United States, or face early elimination from the 2018 Concacaf Championship.

The top three nations in the Concacaf tournament will advance to the France 2019 Women’s World Cup, while the fourth placed team head into a play off with South America’s third place finisher.

The six TTFA board members urging John-Williams to follow the constitution and call a meeting to address the Women’s National Senior Team are: Karanjabari Williams (Northern FA), Joseph Taylor (Trinidad and Tobago Football Referees Association), Sharon Warrick (Women’s League Football), Julia Baptiste (TT Pro League), Collin Partap (Central Football Association) and Keith Look Loy (TTSL).

The remaining board members are: David John-Williams (president), Joanne Salazar and Ewing Davis (vice-presidents), Richard Quan Chan (Southern FA), Anthony Moore (Tobago FA) and Wayne Cunningham (Eastern FA).

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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One comment

  1. Hannibal Najjar

    ISWIS – It Is What It Is! I am no profit, no pundit, no guru; neither is everyone else who have for decades stated that there is no hope if there is seismic change to all of the pillars of, in this case, the governing football body. The journey has been long and the end is as the horizon.