Minister of Sport Brent Sancho says the threat by some T&T senior women's team players not to board a flight bound for Canada yesterday would have been realised had it not been for his intervention.
In a telephone interview, Sancho said he convinced the players to take the flight after giving them the assurance that he would look into issues, some of which were made public by one of the players, Kennya Cordner, who took to social media over the weekend in a critical post directed to the T&T Football Association (TTFA).
On Saturday, Cordner posted the following on Facebook: "So on Monday 6th of July I would not be going to Canada without any stipend this is ridiculous now I would let ppl know wat alyuh about TTFA because this is not fair to us, why must the men be in comfort while we suffer not any more I'm so fed up of you all treating us like this no more."
Then, on Sunday, a day before the team was scheduled to depart for Canada, Cordner posted on the same forum: "As I lay in my bed and think back! You know it was never about the money when coming to play for our country, we always used to go and play and fight for the, but is the Constance (sic) disrespect from the TTFA I cannot take. Few months ago we brought this country together, we change the face of women's football but yet still we are treated like we are no-body why must that be?
It's unfair to us look we have pan am games not even a practice game why because we not worth it? Am asking you TTFA. Going back to wen Coach Randy put up the Twitter post and you all said things would be better for the women's but yet still the lies keep coming smh. Ladies it's about time we stop take the disrespect because we are human not robots. I would always b happy to represent my country, but wen we are being disrespected I would let ppl know.
With these concerns, some players threatened to boycott the event.Sancho said he received a call the night before from one of the players, which brought some of the issues to his attention.He said he wants the TTFA to be "transparent and open." "They have to let us know what happened."
Sancho said he could not understand what the issues were in terms of match fees and preparation for the Pan Am Games since the TTFA recently received "Gold Cup money" from Concacaf. "The federation got money from Concacaf for preparation for the Gold Cup and airfare but we (Government) are paying for airfare," Sancho said.
However, in a subsequent interview, TTFA general secretary Sheldon Phillips said the Minister may have been mistaken when it came to the figures. "We did not receive $100,000 from Concacaf (for the Gold Cup). We received around $33,000, which did go towards the two Pan Am teams."He said the association "received an advance" from Concacaf in the absence of Ministry subventions which would have gone toward the Pan American Games.
In terms of the women team's preparation for the Games, Phillips noted that the ongoing Women's Premier League (WPL) featured all national women players and allowed them to prepare through a number of friendly matches, including one against a WPL XI.
The women's team is scheduled to kick off the account at the Pan American Games on Saturday with a clash against Argentina and will play Colombia and Mexico on July 14 and 18, respectively, at the preliminary stage. The men will face Uruguay (July 13), Paraguay (July 17) and Mexico (July 21).