The Ministry of Sport and Youth Affairs agreed to fund 100 percent of the expenses for the Trinidad and Tobago Women’s National Senior Team, as they prepare for the Concacaf Women’s Championship, which kicks off in North Carolina on 4 October 2018.
The government’s decision—which is worth TT$430,000—was relayed to the media this evening, after a fractious week which saw the Women Soca Warriors players publicly criticise the Trinidad and Tobago Football Administration (TTFA) while team manager Jinelle James, general secretary Justin Latapy-George and president David John-Williams pointed fingers at each other.
Sport Minister Shamfa Cudjoe, in a press release, advised that the players should be “treated with dignity, compassion and respect” and urged the football officials to do better in the future.
“The welfare of these players is of paramount importance to the government and people of Trinidad and Tobago,” stated Cudjoe. “They are our flag bearers and we have a duty to ensure that they are treated with dignity, compassion and respect. It is in this light, that the Ministry extends the necessary support.
“[…] This national embarrassment could have been avoided, and must never be allowed to happen again.”
Ironically, John-Williams initially criticised James for approaching the Sport Ministry and publicly vowed to discipline her for it.
“No approach was made for an overseas camp to the TTFA’s General Secretariat nor President […] prior to nor at the time of postings made on social media by players on Wednesday 12th September 2018,” stated the release, issued by John-Williams. “[…] Given the current economic climate, the TTFA did not initially approach government for funding for the women’s team for upcoming qualifiers, as it is currently seeking alternative financial support.
“However, without the consent and knowledge of the TTFA secretariat, a member of the technical staff approached the Government directly via email for financial support and we have since been treating with this matter.”
James responded with her own missive and explained that she felt it imperative to be pro-active. She insisted—and provided an email as proof—that she informed the TTFA president and general secretary before approaching the government.
“I insisted that we cannot sit there and not try to find funding; to which [Latapy-George] responded that I can go ahead and reach out to the Ministry to see what is possible,” said James. “I made a call to the Ministry, I explained that we needed to get the team together and hence the email was sent to get a gauge of if and how much support can be received for the team.”
By today, John-Williams was sitting in the Ministry of Sport and Youth Affairs where Cudjoe revealed that the government accepted a budget drawn up by Latapy-George and James. And the Women Warriors were promised TT$430,000 towards their Concacaf campaign, which serves as a qualifying series for the 2019 France World Cup competition.
This financial assistance, according to the MYSA, is intended to cover the costs of airfare, hotel accommodation, food and beverage, pre-training camp, medical and baggage fees, and other items, for the team and the technical staff.
Cudjoe also raised the issue of outstanding retainer fees owed to players and, according to the release, “the TTFA has committed to pay retainers fees to the players before their departure on 25 September 2018.”
The local football body was also asked to sign a Service Level Agreement (SLA) to ensure funds are properly disbursed and utilised.
The matter of funding was only one of several issues related to the Women’s Team, as board members also complained about the illegality of John-Williams’ appointment of Shawn Cooper as head coach.
Seven board members have called a meeting on 24 September to discuss the issue of the women’s coaching appointment as well as the state the men’s national under-17 and under-20 teams and local refereeing, as is their constitutional right. However, it is uncertain whether John-Williams will recognise the gathering.
The seven board members are: Keith Look Loy (TTSL), Collin Partap (Central Football Association), Joseph Taylor (Trinidad and Tobago Football Referees Association), Sharon Warrick (Women’s League Football), Julia Baptiste (TT Pro League), Karanjabari Williams (Northern FA) and Wayne Cunningham (Eastern FA).
Cudjoe, according to the MYSA statement, reminded John-Williams and Latapy-George of “the importance of proper planning, management, and leadership in the execution of its affairs, and further encouraged the TTFA to comply with the Ministry’s guidelines regarding the timely submission of financials, proposals, calendars and other relevant documents.”