Former Women’s League of Football (WoLF) general secretary and Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) board member Jamiyla Muhammad has passed away from cancer. She is believed to have battled the disease for over a year.
Muhammad’s loss compounds a grief-laden year for WoLF, which lost competitions secretary Claire George to cancer in March while former president Susan Joseph-Warrick is currently recovering from a stroke that she suffered in April.
WoLF president Kenrick Hoyte described Muhammad as a childhood friend and said he was deeply hurt at her untimely passing.
“She was a firebrand,” Hoyte told Wired868. “She was very outspoken and very professional. She was a real asset to the organisation and one of our top lieutenants.
“It is a sad loss and it is the second one we have lost in a short space of time. There was Claire George, who was also stricken with cancer.”
Although Joseph-Warrick was unable to speak, her husband, Joel Warrick, made a brief statement on her behalf.
“Mrs Warrick is too distraught to speak about Jamiyla right now—even if she wanted to, the effects of her stroke would make it difficult to carry on a good conversation,” he said. “However, I know that Jamiyla’s passing has really hit her hard and she wants to offer her deepest sympathies to her family. They were very close in and outside of WoLF, perhaps because they (and Claire George) were the main persons behind everything that happened during her tenure.
“They spoke to each other regularly over the last five months, sharing each other’s pain while trying to motivate each other. The last time they spoke to each other was last Friday.
“They really had each other’s back. Our prayers are with Jamiyla’s family during this difficult time.”
Muhammad was employed by the Trinidad and Tobago Fire Service and also a member of the Chips Sports and Cultural Club and the Royalty Basketball Academy. She was a former netballer.
Former Trinidad and Tobago Women’s National Under-20 Team head coach Jason Spence met Muhammad in 2015, when she was assigned as his team manager. He remembers her as one of the most solution-oriented persons he ever met.
“Jamiyla was someone who had the strength of a leader, a real leader,” he said. “We were going through a tough time with resources from the FA and Jamiyla would find a way. I remember she was able to get us the Fire Service bus at times to take us to different locations when we had training, or to the airport.
“Every organisation that she had some relationship with, she was able to tap into to assist us with our programme. I really admired her for the way she was able to communicate and lead. She brought players together, she brought parents together. I thought she was invaluable to the group that we had.”
Spence said he remained in touch with Muhammad, although he was stunned by her passing.
“We became very good friends but the pandemic separated people a bit and we were not in touch with each other as we used to be,” he said. “When I heard the news this morning, I didn’t even know how to begin to feel. I am still recovering and I can tell you that I cried this morning.
“Jamiyla was a really fantastic person.”
Former TTFA president William Wallace first encountered Muhammad when he was Men’s National Senior Team manager, six years ago, and then during his short stint as local football president.
“From since the time I worked as a manager of the Men’s Senior Team, I recognised the passion Jamiyla had for the game and women’s football in particular,” said Wallace. “She served on the board for the short period that I was president and she was always positive and making a contribution.
“When she felt something wasn’t right, she would say so. But what was special is she would always try to come up with a solution. I would say that is what stood out about her.
“She had all the makings of a great administrator. She will be deeply missed.”
In 2019, Muhammad graduated with a diploma from the UWI/FIFA/CIES Sports Management Programme and was already pursuing her Masters. Programme director Sherlan Cabralis said she was impossible to overlook in class.
“Jamiyla was a very strong, independent woman,” said Cabralis. “She had a presence because she was tall and spoke with authority, so she could come off as intimidating—with her stature and confidence. Her gloves always seemed to be on.
“But once you got to know her, you realised she was a very caring person. She had one daughter and, when her sister died, she stepped up and took care of her children too, so she had three children.
“I would say she was soft, caring—and fun. She went to Peru with us when we took the CIES group there at the last PanAm Games in 2019 and we all had a very good time.”
Last year, Cabralis said Muhammad sent ‘a lovely video telling everyone how blessed she felt at the support’ she received, after she was diagnosed with cancer. It was another glimpse into her tender side.
Initially, Muhammad’s friends felt encouraged by her early progress against the disease. She bought herself time. But, today, she moved on.
Muhammad will be sorely missed.