Trinidad and Tobago Women’s National Senior Team head coach Stephan De Four named 18 overseas-based players in his 29-member squad for a residential camp, as they prepare for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic qualifying series.
The team will be led by Iceland-based midfielder Karyn ‘Baby’ Forbes and lists her sister and goalkeeper Kimika Forbes, midfielder Janine Francois and defenders Liana Hinds and Khadisha Debesette among its veteran players.
There is no shortage of young blood though with attackers Aaliyah Prince, Laurel Theodore, Alexcia Ali and Shanelle Arjoon and defenders Amaya Ellis, Maria-Frances Serrant involved, alongside a host of new inclusions from Trinidad and Tobago’s diaspora in North America.
“I think preparations have been good,” Forbes (Ka) told the TTFA Media. “It’s a new squad. At any point in life you have to have transition. With some of the new players coming in, we’ll be able to utilise them and have some fresh blood and help them to grow.
“I think right now a lot is at stake especially where women’s football is concerned. I hope we can use this competition as an opportunity to make a statement and bring back the fun and bring back people out to watch women’s football.”
The Woman Soca Warriors kick off their Caribbean qualifying campaign for the 2020 Olympics against Aruba from 5pm next Monday in the second game of a double header at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva.
Trinidad and Tobago and Aruba will also battle with St Kitts and Nevis, Antigua and Barbuda and the Dominican Republic in a round robin format over the next two weeks with only the group winner advancing to the Concacaf leg.
De Four has less than a week to select his final team and get them ready for competitive action. But there is no question that he cast his net far and wide for talent—despite there being notable omissions like Kennya ‘Yaya’ Cordner, Kayla Taylor, Arin King, Rhea Belgrave, former captains Natasha St Louis and Maylee Attin-Johnson and veteran attacker Ahkeela Mollon, who is the WoLF top scorer at present.
Goalkeeper Saundra Baron, who was critical of current president David John-Williams in a three-part blog on Wired868, is injured.
There is no shortage of bodies in the technical area either. De Four has four assistant coaches in Andy Salandy, Darrel Marcelle, Corbin Cooper and Desiree Sarjeant while former Strike Squad legend Earl ‘Spiderman’ Carter serves as his goalkeeping coach with Natalie Harper as equipment manager and Kern Meloney and Shenice Gittens as therapists.
“Every coach is different but Stephan is very serious,” said Forbes (Ka), “and we need someone who is serious. I’m elated to work under him.”
Although TTFA president David John-Williams still has been unable complete the Home of Football—three years after starting the initiative—the Women Soca Warriors were given a tour of the facilities and offered the usual complimentary remarks to their press officer.
“I think the initiative of having the Home of football is very good because it could really help the TTFA and help bring in funds to help the teams in the future,” said Forbes (Ka). “I know everything takes time so we have to be able to let everything take its due time and process. I am hoping as time goes on we will be able to utilise the hotel and gain some income from this hotel.
“It’s really good as having this facility will help us a lot. I have been traveling back and forth between Trinidad and Tobago. It’s really important that we have accommodation.”
Forbes will be hoping to spur her side on with an opening win against Aruba next Monday in Couva.
Trinidad and Tobago Women’s National Senior Team
Goalkeepers: Malaika Dedier (St Augustine Secondary), Kimika Forbes (Millionarios FC—Colombia), Tenesha Palmer (Police FC);
Defenders: Sydney Boisselle (York University—Canada), Khadisha Debesette (Club Sando), Amaya Ellis (University of Illinois—US), Nathifa Hackshaw (St Augustine Secondary), Liana Hinds (Sundsvall DFF—Sweden), Renasha Jones (Tobago Chicas), Janelle McGee (California Storm—US), Aaliyah Pascall (Club Sando), Tori Paul (Olympic High—US), Meyah Romeo (Monroe College—US), Maria-Frances Serrant (St Augustine Secondary);
Midfielders: Agape Alexander (Liu Brooklyn—US), Shanelle Arjoon (West Texas A&M—US), Karyn Forbes (Fjaroabyggo—Iceland), Janine Francois (QPCC), Asha James (Florida International University—US), Jasandra Joseph (Trincity National), Maya Matouk (University of Tampa—US), Nia Walcott (University of Maryland—US);
Forwards: Faith Alexander (Pride Soan Club—US), Alexcia Ali (Pleasantville Secondary), Afiyah Cornwall (QPCC), Cayla McFarlane (Patdadores—US), Aaliyah Prince (North Texas State—US), Makayla Prince (Club Sando), Laurel Theodore (Roger State University—US).
Olympic Team Staff: Stephan De Four (head coach), Andy Salandy (assistant coach), Darrel Marcelle (assistant coach), Corbin Cooper (assistant coach), Desiree Sarjeant (assistant coach), Earl Carter (goalkeeper coach), Natalie Harper (equipment manager), Kern Meloney (therapist), Shenice Gittens (therapist).
Concacaf Women’s Olympic Qualifying
(Monday 30 September)
St Kitts & Nevis vs Dominican Republic, 2.30pm, Ato Boldon Stadium;
Aruba vs Trinidad & Tobago, 5pm, Ato Boldon Stadium;
(Wednesday 2 October)
Dominican Republic vs Aruba, 2.30pm, Ato Boldon Stadium;
Trinidad and Tobago vs Antigua and Barbuda, 5pm, Ato Boldon Stadium;
(Friday 4 October)
Antigua & Barbuda vs Dominican Republic, 2.30pm, Ato Boldon Stadium;
Aruba vs St Kitts & Nevis, 5pm, Ato Boldon Stadium;
(Sunday 6 October)
Antigua & Barbuda vs Aruba, 2.30pm, Ato Boldon Stadium;
Trinidad & Tobago vs St Kitts & Nevis, 5pm, Ato Boldon Stadium;
Tuesday 8 October)
St Kitts & Nevis vs Antigua & Barbuda, 2.30pm, Ato Boldon Stadium;
Trinidad & Tobago vs Dominican Republic, 5pm, Ato Boldon Stadium.