Dr Rajendra S Rampaul
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TTFA president: Princesses have done us proud
In spite of a lack of time to prepare as a unit and without the luxury of optimal resources, T&T’s senior women’s team exceeded expectations and made this country proud when they captured the inaugural Caribbean Football Union (CFU) Women’s Caribbean Cup, on Tuesday, with a 1-0 win over Jamaica in the final.
“They played with heart, determination and spirit. They had that drive,” said Sharon O’Brien, president of football at the T&T Football Association (TTFA). The team entered the tournament rated highly, perhaps even as the best, but scoring 21 goals in four matches without conceding one to ease into the Concacaf round of World Cup qualifiers showed a few things that, quite frankly, more corporate sponsors ought to look at and take notice, according to O’Brien.
O’Brien, who prides herself in the administrative aspect in women’s football at the TTFA, was a member of the Local Organising Committee (LOC), which had been given from May to put together the first ever Women’s Caribbean Cup. She admitted that the logistics of the event was far from simple, or inexpensive, but deemed it a success after a week of brilliant football, especially from the two finalists.
The host team also endured its own financial difficulties, but O’Brien said there was never a better time than now for potential corporate sponsors to get on board.
Making a point on the team’s marketability, O’Brien rhetorically asked, “So you watched the games...Were you impressed?
“It was just tremendous. Yes, I would think, if not before, now is the time for corporate T&T to stand up and take notice. These girls played with everything for their country. But sometimes the difference between success (and failure) is a matter of minutes, and that can be rectified by the external efforts of those who sit up and notice the efforts of these athletes.”
O’Brien referred to the national women’s U-20 team which was moments away from sealing a 3-2 win over Costa Rica at the Fifa Under-20 World Cup qualifying tournament, in January, but for a late equalising goal by the Central American team. Had T&T held on to the advantage, qualification for a historic World Cup would have been assured.
Apart from the heroic efforts of the players, namely leading goalscorer Tasha St Louis (seven goals in four matches including two hat-tricks); tournament MVP Mariah Shade, who scored in every match; goalkeeper Kimika Forbes, who kept clean sheets in all four matches; Arin King, who subsequently received resounding plaudits for her dominance, control and comfort in defence; captain Maylee Attin-Johnson; and all other players, a great deal of credit was offered to the technical and management staff.
Head coach Randy Waldrum was only announced as head coach early last month, got a welcomed introduction to the team with the help of assistant coaches Marlon Charles, Desiree Sarjeant and Jason Spence; Vernetta Flanders (manager); Michael Taylor (physiotherapist); Dexter Thomas (trainer); Claire George (equipment manager); and those who volunteered their efforts.
O’Brien said when the team returns to training following the draw for the Concacaf Women’s Championship on September 5, the TTFA will do everything it can to seek out the best possible opponents in preparation.
Ideally, she said Central American opponents such as Panama and Costa Rica are at the pace the T&T players should further test themselves against.
Yesterday, in a media release from the TTFA, Tim Kee also congratulated the women’s team. “It was such a splendid display of pride, honour and true representation by our national women’s team during the one-week tournament here in our country,” he stated.
“What we saw from the team, coached by Randy Waldrum and captained by Maylee Attin-Johnson, was an indication of what true belief and proper execution can do in terms of achieving positive results and we saw them being able to bring a kind of joy to our fans who followed the team from the opening game against St Kitts/Nevis to the final against the never-say-die Jamaicans.”
Tim Kee said with six weeks remaining before the Concacaf final round of qualifiers in the US, and with limited resources, the association will do whatever possible to have the team engage in the best preparations.
He thanked sponsors and volunteers that assisted the TTFA and CFU, including: Ministry of Sport, SporTT, Coca Cola, Subway, Lifestyle Motors, Miscellaneous Marketing, Matrix and Fully Loaded, Sound System, the Protective Services, the LOC, the ball attendants and the management and staff of the Hasely Crawford Stadium.
While T&T is said to have its best chance to qualify for the Women’s World Cup, they were far from disgraced at the qualification event for the World Cup in 2011. At the final hurdle, the Concacaf Gold Cup, the team finished third in its group, after defeating Guyana 4-1 but losing narrowly to tournament host Mexico (1-0) and Canada (2-0).
At the rebranded Concacaf Championships, the top three teams will qualify directly for next year’s Fifa Women’s World Cup in Canada, while the fourth-placed team will remain with a chance via a play-off spot against a Comnebol (South America) team. As host nation, Canada has already qualified, while one of the eight teams participating in the Concacaf Championships, Martinique, cannot qualify for the World Cup as it is not a Fifa member.
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