Members of the Trinidad and Tobago's women senior and under 19 teams were a thankful bunch on Tuesday evening after they received a late Christmas presents courtesy of FIFA.
FIFA Vice President Jack Warner was on hand to present over $30,000 worth of Adidas uniforms and equipment to the players to assist in their preparation for upcoming 2004 Olympic qualifying matches and World Under 19 qualifiers. According to Richard Braithwaite, CONCACAF Director of Development, the gear was a contribution from the FIFA Women's Division after they conducted a course for women coaches at the CONCACAF Centre of Excellence last year. The course was conducted by Tatjana Haenni of the FIFA Women's Division and Hope Powell, FIFA instructor and England coach who also held sessions with the T&T side.
Warner was most pleased on the kind gesture of the FIFA which he admitted that he had some input in and promised the players that this "was just the beginning of things to come" after he also agreed to cover the out of pocket expenses for the entire team.
"Never before have I seen a bunch of players as dedicated and committed as you are and also as neglected as you are," Warner told the members of the team.
He spoke of how he was simply giving a helping hand and revealed how on request of the Canadian Association to hold meetings with their Government officials for the construction of a stadium, the result was the completion of a 30,000 seater venue which officials there thanked him for. Warner said in return he requested some friendly matches between the Canadians and T&T and the result is three friendlies here later this month with all expenses covered by the visitors. Canadian coach Ian Bridge also held a session with the T&T side and was all for the friendlies.
"When President Blatter said that the future of football of feminine he was in fact correct because it is easier for you to raise the flag of this country in football than it is for the men," said Warner.
When T&T coach Jamal Shabaaz revealed that he was "it would bring a lot of joy to their hearts" referring to Warner's agreement to cover all traveling allowances for the team, the Ken Galt Room at the Centre was filled with cheers and smiles from the enthusiastic Soca Princess'. Warner will also present another $30,000 worth of equipment to the teams in due course.
The Women's senior team is preparing for the final round of 2004 Olympic qualifying action in Costa Rica next month and will play two games against the visiting Canadian Under 19 team on January 17 and 19 at the Marvin Lee Stadium and Larry Gomes Stadium respectively . T&T's Under 19 team will also face the same Canadians in one game on January 15 at the Marvin Lee Stadium.