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TTFA neglects Elite Girls; administrators struggle to explain why U-15 Girls inactive for five months

Five months after Trinidad and Tobago was controversially forfeited from the Concacaf Girls’ Under-15 Championship in the United States, the local Girls’ National Under-15 Team have not held a single training session and have no idea when next they will meet on the football field.

Team manager Vernetta Flanders confirmed that the girls programme is dormant at present.

Photo: The Trinidad and Tobago Women’s U-15 Team warm down after their 4-0 win over the Dominican Republic on 10 August 2016 in the Concacaf Championship.
The Women’s U-15 Team were forced to miss the 2018 Concacaf Championship due to the TTFA’s late application for visas.
(Courtesy CONCACAF)

“Our last training session was in the first week of August last year,” Flanders told Wired868. “I’ve asked the programme director and he said information should be coming to me shortly. The parents and the players have been asking when the programme will be restarted but I just can’t answer their questions. That is where we are at this point.”

Remarkably, the Girls Under-15 Team should be benefitting from a TT$10 million cash injection—with TT$8 million from the National Lotteries Control Board (NLCB) and TT$2 million from the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA)—split over four years for the National Elite Youth Programme, which includes a boys team for the same age group.

There was nothing in the pact between the TTFA and NLCB suggesting that one sex deserved a bigger slice of the pie than the other; but the difference in how either team is faring is unmistakable.

Last July, as both elite teams neared their first overseas excursions, the football body creaked into action.

Late visa applications meant that the Girls Team never made it to their Concacaf tournament in Florida. At the time, US Chargé d’Affaires John McIntyre memorably accused TTFA president David John-Williams of hurting talented young players by his “failure to plan.”

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago National U-14 players (from left) Dantaye Gilbert, Jaheim Faustin and Jaheim Marshall pose after scoring a goal each in their 3-1 win over Aruba on 10 August 2018.
(Copyright TTFA Media)

The Boys Team were also scheduled for a Caribbean Challenge Series competition in Curaçao at around the same time but found that the flights were booked. So, the local football body chartered them a plane.

Since then, the boys have continued their development with as many as four training sessions per week, while the girls have floundered.

“As we speak we are on a break [from the Christmas period] but we are supposed to recommence training on the 20th of January,” Boys National U-15 manager Wesley Webb told Wired868, “and then it would be twice during the week and twice on the weekend in preparation for the [Concacaf] tournament, which will be in the summer.”

TTFA National Elite Youth Programme coordinator Gary St Rose could not be reached for comment on the inactivity of the girls team or the apparent disparity in treatment between the two sexes.

John-Williams, who is the owner of Pro League team W Connection, was criticised in the past about the abundance of current and past Connection employees within the TT$10 million Elite Programme.

St Rose as well National Under-15 Boys Team head coach, Stuart Charles-Février, assistant coaches, Clyde Leon and Leonson Lewis, and Webb are all linked to Connection, which does not have a women’s team.

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.

Women’s National Senior Team manager Jinelle James and goalkeeper Saundra Baron both accused John-Williams of misogyny last year while lashing out at his treatment of the Women Soca Warriors.

Women’s League Football (WoLF) president Sharon O’Brien, who is also a TTFA employee, declined the chance to comment and stated that her brief was to preside over local women’s football rather than the international game.

“TT Wolf has nothing to do with any national team,” said O’Brien. “The football association is in charge of the national teams; our job is just to give them the experience of playing football locally.”

TTFA technical director Anton Corneal could not say for certain why the Girls Under-15 Team was inactive but he did reveal that there had been financial issues.

“The administrative side is under Gary St Rose but he reports directly to me—and I met this scenario in place [when I was appointed technical director] with the coaches already under contract,” said Corneal. “Last May, the coaches—and this was the men’s and women’s at the time—asked me about payments and I did ask the TTFA; but I have no control over that.”

Nobody was able or willing to confirm whether the technical staff members for either team were fully paid. However, a source—who spoke on condition of anonymity—said Under-15 technical staff members received just one month’s salary since June 2018.

Photo: Attacking midfielder Abdul-Quddoos Hypolite (right) in action during the NLCB Elite Youth Programme zonal competition.
(Courtesy TTFA Media)

The head coach and manager of either team are under contract until June 2019 while the support staff allegedly receive payment without a written agreement.

Corneal has not been paid as technical director since June 2018 either and described himself as ‘close to breaking point’. He said local football coaches are thoroughly frustrated with the current situation.

“I have to ask myself what precedent do I set for other technical directors if I continue like this,” said Corneal. “The Under-15 coaches are being owed and it is similar to the grassroots programme where half were paid but the others were not.

“[…] It is difficult for me to ask them why they are not training under those circumstances.”

At TT$10 million over four years for the TTFA’s Elite Programme, the Girls Under-15 Team should, in theory, receive TT$1.25 million per year—less any administrative expenses. (In John-Williams’ first year in office, the local football body spent TT$1.26 million on legal fees, without winning a case).

Wired868 asked John-Williams to confirm the status of the Girls National Under-15 Team and whether staff members from either elite team were still owed money. He did not respond up to the time of publication.

However, TTFA general secretary Justin Latapy-George insisted that the girls are important to the local football body.

Photo: The Trinidad and Tobago Women’s National Under-20 Team train at the Hasely Crawford Stadium on 9 January 2018.
(Courtesy Sean Morrison/Wired868)

“The Under-15/Under-16 Girls represent a significant percentage of the TTFA’s continued investment into the future of football in Trinidad and Tobago,” stated Latapy-George, via What’s App. “As such, under the direction of the Technical Director and Technical Committee, the plans for the Team into 2019—as well as the age group under these young ladies—will be communicated to the Board of Directors to formalise the necessary implementation plan.

“In this way it will be assured that resources are adequately allocated to support the programme(s).”

Latapy-George could not say why the Girls Team needed to have a plan ‘formalised’ by the TTFA board while the Boys Team can apparently move seamlessly into 2019.

“I am unaware of any plan to start the boys programme any different to the position articulated for the girls,” said Latapy-George.

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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24 comments

  1. Women are getting closer to equality in Football in other parts of the world. T&T is going backward. Why is the Minister sitting on her hands?

  2. The women are blatantly being punished by this president and members of the TTFA and it’s sad. You don’t put any money, resources, or effort into the youth women’s national teams because you don’t value them as “money making” entity for your business.. You are destroying the development of grassroots football, and elite female talent which in turn diminishes the future of women’s football. I think it’s thoroughly embarrassing those U-15 girls did not get to compete in their tournament. But what do you expect the TTFA released a 2019 New Year press release and NOT ONCE MENTIONED WOMENS FOOTBALL. Women in Trinidad and Tobago Football are being done a disservice by this current TTFA regime and it breaks my heart. I wish I could go to CONCACAF or FIFA, and display this inequality. Last point… I know for a fact the women’s national team must be still be getting blackballed by the social media videos and graphics we released campaigning for equality, camp funding, and overall respect for us as a national team. I know for a fact we are being shown up for asking for what we deserved. That is truly wrong. I pray one day change will come.

  3. Some crocodile tears and the minister of sports will release some money to TTFA – “in the interest of the girls representing TnT”. And how many more times will this continue! You cannot send an unprepared team to a football tournament. But TTFA not on the “boo boo” list?

  4. Lasana Liburd who is actually in charge of preparations of National Teams?Is it the TD?

  5. Mike King No one will ever resign because as the saying goes ” We like it so ” Them really good yes

  6. I didn’t see my question answered the last time I asked it so here it goes again.
    What would happen if all board members as well as all head of all associations resigned.
    Would Concacaf and Fifa be forced to intercede

    • Mike King No. Under the Constitution the members that elect these officials would simply be required to replace them. In any event, that ain’t happening. Too many people holding on to office like their life depends on it..

  7. Next time they do meet, half of the team may no longer meet the age requirement for the team. So they will not be part of this. Problem solved, according to the logic of King David!!!

  8. Has there been a time in the TTFA’s history that all these teams have been functioning and supported as they should be?

    • There’d be a difference between functioning and ‘supported as they should be’. Lol. But sure. The only time before now that I could think of when we didn’t have multiple teams training might have been under Lennox Watson, which was just after Jack Warner left and the programme was flat broke.
      Otherwise we have generally always had multiple teams active.
      At present, I think the senior men’s team and the under-15 boys team might be the only outfits that get together with any regularity. I don’t think there is a single women’s team in training.
      Kester Lendor do you know?

    • Well it is alleged that one of his top of the line Coaches said that the women football isn’t to get anywhere in our sweet country, so. I guess thst the monies for the girls is going to the Home of Football Them really good yes

    • Lasana Liburd I have not a clue. I no longer traverse the hwy so won’t see teams in training and stop off.

  9. ..Incompetence x misogyny x favouritism = structural collapse. The Big Boss and his minions treat the met like shit and the women like REAL shit. The men’s U17, which plays in March, has not trained since March 2018 – ONE YEAR AGO.

    Yet still, his lick spittle minions, drawn fron all over TTFA, hold on to his coat tails and prop up the Big Boss.

    We like it so. But the social history of Trini will record the consistent effort of Wired to expose this debacle, even as the mainstream media largely ignore it, or worse, try to provide the Big Boss with PR cover..