Minister of Sport and Youth Affairs Shamfa Cudjoe has given the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) until noon on Monday to submit a formal proposal seeking financial assistance for the Women’s National Senior Team, after the football body admitted to mangling its application for government funding.
On Tuesday, Women Soca Warriors manager Jinelle James contacted Sports Ministry Director of Physical Education and Sport, Patrice Charles, to request TT$159,360 to cover the cost or airfare for 28 players to Trinidad for training and preparation.
However, according to a release from the Sport Ministry, the request was done informally by email and not sent—as Charles specifically instructed—on a TTFA letterhead.
And, as it transpired, TTFA general secretary Justin Latapy-George and the TTFA board allegedly knew nothing about James’ proposal.
“At today’s meeting, [Latapy-George] claimed that neither he, nor the executive of TTFA were aware of the proposal being made by Ms James,” stated the MSYA release, “and he requested that Ms James’ proposal be withdrawn with immediate effect.
“Mr Latapy-George further stated that the executive of [the] TTFA is in the process of considering other options—contrary to what Ms James proposed—to facilitate the preparation of the players, that may consist of having the locally based players travel to the USA to train with the foreign based players, rather than have the USA based players fly to Trinidad.”
Cudjoe gave the local football body roughly 60 hours to get its business together for the sake of the Women Soca Warriors.
Incidentally, the Trinidad and Tobago Women’s National Under-15 Team were forced to forfeit their own Concacaf tournament in July, after the football body’s late application for US visas. Latapy-George subsequently met with the US Embassy to smoothen over relations, after TTFA president David John-Williams called Embassy Chargé d’Affaires John McIntyre a liar.
John-Williams did not attend the follow-up meeting with McIntyre; and he did not meet Cudjoe today either, as the Sport Minister tried to get to the bottom of cries for help from the Women Warriors.
The Women’s Senior Team does not have a head coach at present and John-Williams cannot legally appoint one without the support of his board. However, the football president has so far resisted requests to have a board meeting.
Today, six TTFA board members formally invoked article 35 of the constitution to force John-Williams to meet to discuss: the appointment of a technical staff to the Women’s National Team, the status of the Men’s Under-17 and Under-20 teams, and refereeing issues previously tabled by the TTFRA.
Article 35 states:
“The President shall convene the meetings of the Board of Directors at least once every two months. Moreover, if 50% of the members of the Board of Directors request a meeting in writing, the President shall convene it within ten days.
“If the President does not convene the requested meeting by the aforementioned period of time, the other members of the Board of Directors may convene it themselves.”
However, the deadline set by the constitution gives John-Williams until 24 September to call the board meeting. If he does not choose to meet the board earlier, the women could potentially have as little as 10 days with their new coach before they face Panama in the 2018 Concacaf Championship, which serves as a qualifying series for the France 2019 World Cup.
The board members who demanded that John-Williams 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: John-Williams (president), Joanne Salazar and Ewing Davis (vice-presidents), Richard Quan Chan (Southern FA), Anthony Moore (Tobago FA) and Wayne Cunningham (Eastern FA).
The following is the full release from the Ministry of Sport and Youth Affairs on today’s meeting with the TTFA, which was attended by Latapy-George and James:
The Honourable Shamfa Cudjoe, Minister of Sport and Youth Affairs along with senior officials of the Ministry met today with General Secretary of the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA), Mr Justin Latapy-George and Ms Jinelle James, Manager of the Women’s National Football Team, in light of the recent claims circulating on Social Media in relation to the lack of support shown to the Trinidad and Tobago Senior Women’s Football Team.
The Ministry of Sport and Youth Affairs advises the public that no formal request was made to the Ministry by TTFA for assistance for the CONCACAF qualifiers for the FIFA women’s World Cup, or any other activities this year.
Last week, a request was made for assistance with transportation for the locally based players to be transported to and from training at the Ato Boldon and Mannie Ramjohn Stadia in Trinidad. To this end, the Ministry has provided its buses to be used by the team.
On Monday September 10, 2018, Ms Janelle James contacted Mr Patrice Charles, Director of Physical Education and Sport, MSYA to inquire about assistance for the team, in its efforts to have the foreign based players travel to Trinidad to join the locally based players for training. Mr Patrice Charles provided the necessary guidance to Ms James and informed her that a formal detailed request must be submitted by the TTFA, on its letterhead, to the Ministry, since the TTFA is the National Governing Body that has remit over the national team.
However, on Tuesday 11th September 2018, the MSYA through Mr Patrice Charles received an informal email from Ms Jinelle James, Women’s National Team Manager requesting a total of $159,360 to cover the cost of airfare for 28 persons, in the effort to have all foreign based players travel to Trinidad for training and preparation.
Following the developments in the media relating to the issue, Minister Shamfa Cudjoe called the management of TTFA to a meeting to discuss and attempt to resolve the matter.
At today’s meeting, Mr Justin Latapy-George, General Secretary of TTFA, claimed that neither he, nor the executive of TTFA were aware of the proposal being made by Ms James and he requested that Ms James’ proposal be withdrawn with immediate effect.
Mr Latapy-George further stated that the executive of TTFA is in the process of considering other options, contrary to what Ms James proposed, to facilitate the preparation of the players, that may consist of having the locally based players travel to the USA to train with the foreign based players, rather than have the USA based players fly to Trinidad. He also stated that the TTFA executive is also in the process of finalizing arrangements for a coach and other technical support for the team.
Mr Latapy-George stated that the executive would like the opportunity to meet and reason with the team’s management in order to properly discuss the matter at hand, and subsequently produce a detailed proposal along with a formal request for funding to the Ministry.
Minister Cudjoe reminded the TTFA officials that time is of the essence, and that the team is depending on the TTFA management to work diligently and harmoniously in the best interest of dedicated players, and football by extension.
Minister Cudjoe gave the officials a deadline of Monday September 17, 2018, no later than 12:00 pm, to submit the relevant proposal for consideration by the Ministry of Sport and Youth Affairs.
Given the fact that the end of fiscal year 2017/2018 is upon us, the Ministry will explore all possible means in order to provide the necessary assistance to the team, once the required documents are submitted.
The Ministry of Sport and Youth Affairs remains committed to providing the relevant support in ensuring that T&T attains the highest standard of athletes at the international level. Further, the future of sport in Trinidad and Tobago is in good hands under the leadership and guidance of the Ministry of Sport and Youth Affairs.