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Thomas quits as T&T Women’s head coach for ‘UK opportunity’, just one month before Concacaf tourney

Trinidad and Tobago Women’s National Senior Team head coach James Thomas has resigned from the job just a month before the Women Soca Warriors are due to kick off their Concacaf W Championship campaign.

The Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) confirmed Thomas’ departure today for ‘a role at a club in the professional women’s league in the UK’. 

Photo: Then Trinidad and Tobago Women’s National Senior Team head coach James Thomas (centre) during a training session in Trinidad.
(via TTFA Media)

“This has been an incredibly tough decision to make,” said Thomas, via the TTFA Media. “It’s disappointing because you have a fantastic group of players here. This is an opportunity that came up for the third time and it was too difficult to turn down again.

“Stepping away, I know the Trinidad and Tobago team will go on and be successful and continue on the route that we have been working on over the last few months. I wish the normalisation committee, the Association’s staff, the team staff and the players the absolute best.”

The Women Soca Warriors were Thomas’ first assignment as a head coach. A former Wales Women’s National Senior Team assistant coach and performance analyst, he was hired by the normalisation committee on 29 April 2021.

In the end, his tenure lasted five months and ended before his team had played a single international game.

The Women Warriors, who held a training camp last month, are grouped with Guyana, Nicaragua, Dominica and the Turks and Caicos Islands in the Concacaf qualifying series. Their opening fixture is on 25 November against Nicaragua.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago winger Shanelle Arjoon (centre) prepares to shoot for goal while Suriname players Stephany Hanenberg (left) and Sulaika Kinsaini look on during CFU Challenge Series action at the Ato Boldon Stadium, Couva on 25 April 2018.
(Copyright Matthew Lee Kong/CA-Images/Wired868)

Only the group winners advance to the 2022 Concacaf W Championship, which will determine the Confederation’s representatives at the 2023 Women’s World Cup, co-hosted by Australia and New Zealand, and the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.

Thomas’ assistant and compatriot, Charlie Mitchell, has been appointed as interim head coach while the normalisation committee ‘explores its options’ for the role.

Mitchell has never worked as head coach before while he got his first assistant coach position just last year at Pafos FC in Cyprus, where he doubles up as a performance analyst. He previously worked exclusively as a performance analyst.

The TTFA, via a press statement, said it hopes to confirm two friendly matches this month at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva—after receiving permission from the Ministry of Health to host a team .

“These friendlies will provide welcome match preparation for the team in the build-up to the November qualifiers,” stated the TTFA.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Women’s National Senior Team assistant coach and performance analyst Charlie Mitchell.

The local football body wished Thomas well.

“While the TTFA is disappointed to lose Thomas, we thank him for the work he has done with the Senior Women’s programme,” stated the release, “and we will be building on that foundation into our CONCACAF W qualifying campaign, which begins in November 2021.”

Thomas was Trinidad and Tobago’s seventh national women’s coach in the last five years, after Stephan De Four, Shawn Cooper (interim), Anton Corneal (interim), Jamaal Shabazz, Carolina Morace, and Richard Hood.

Editor’s Note: Concacaf announced on 8 October that it has posted the Concacaf W Qualifiers from November 2021 to February 2022, due to ‘challenges associated with travel into and within certain countries in our region due to the Covid-19 pandemic’.

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