My first experiences with Trinidad and their women’s football programs was back in 2008 when I was appointed the U-17 WNT coach.
I found then that I loved my time in Trinidad and Tobago, and was really hopeful that someday I could return to coach the team again. Fast forward to two months ago, and that dream became a reality. I am currently the Head Women’s Football Coach for the senior team of Trinidad and Tobago.
Many of the players that I had back in 2008 are now with the senior team, but there are many new faces as well. We convened in Houston about two weeks ago for a training camp in preparation for the Caribbean Football Union tournament. From this tournament the top four teams will advance to the CONCACAF World Cup qualifiers in October. As of last nights 3-0 victory over Antiqua, we achieved that goal and have qualified. Now the task is to continue on in the tournament and try to win the CFU’s outright.
We face many of the same problems that I faced the first time in Trinidad and Tobago, in particular funding. There are not enough funds to prepare the team properly, as any coach will tell you that two weeks preparation for such an important qualifying event is simply not enough time. However, I am very grateful to the TTFA as they have never made such a commitment as this (2 weeks in Houston) to any of their women’s football teams. I truly believe the federation gets the importance of this cycle, and of our opportunity that lies before us to qualify for the World Cup in 2015.
Having said that, funding will remain an issue and will be the single most important factor in how we do at CONCACAF and possibly beyond. My hope is someone or the government will see the importance and help us along the way.
The part that inspires me are these players. Many have given almost ten years of their life to various women’s national teams in T&T, and never received a dime of compensation, never had training camps to prepare, never had simple things such as three meals a day, and have not had access to any type of physical conditioning or the science that goes along with it. Yet they have continued to fight for their dreams, and continue to believe that one day they will be rewarded for their efforts. Coming from the US, I can tell you that the American players have no idea how lucky they are. They have everything they need to train comfortably and properly. The Trinidadians showed up in Houston with 9 soccer balls and a plastic garbage bag that carried a few pennies!
There are some very good players here on the team including the likes of Maylee Attin-Johnson, Kennya Cordner, Karyn Forbes, Arin King, and Tasha St. Louis. There are some young players in camp like Khadisha DeBesette and twin Khadidra DeBesette and Mariah Shade who will have a major impact on our team as well. So we have some talent to work with, we just need time and financial resources to truly make this a journey of a lifetime.
We have a huge game on Sunday against Martinique to see who finishes at the top of our group. If we do so, we will play the winner of Jamaica – Haiti on Tuesday for the Caribbean championship! Having said that, with our two wins against St. Kitts (10-0) and Antiqua (3-0), we have already achieved our first step, qualifying for CONCACAF!