Mon, Aug

WPL secrets: Good idea, bad execution.

Government funds to the tune of $1.7-million have already been committed to a hastily arranged Women Premier League (WPL). But just try getting any information about the new professional female football competition, carded to begin soon. Everything about the WPL is seemingly a secret.

The free of charge six-team WPL tournament is due to kick off on Thursday, with a double header at the St James Police Barracks. Yet, there were no named teams named until last Friday, when a draft was announced. Even then, only just two marquee players were named per team.

Players like T&T’s Arin King, Kennya Cordner and Ahkeela Mollon, Jamaicans Jodi McGregor and Shakira Duncan were announced as marquee players, but no one knew the other players comprising each team. No one has seen a match fixture, and even when the teams are finally organised, it gives them but a few days to prepare for what is supposed to be a professional competition. Even teams from the amateur Women League Football (WoLF) competition take a few months to prepare.

The only confirmed WPL Board members are two employees of the Sport Company of Trinidad and Tobago and the acting permanent secretary in the Ministry of Sport. So, should the Sport Ministry be promoters of football, as in the case of WPL, or remain facilitators of sport, while leaving promotion to the traditional sporting bodies?

Minister of Sport Brent Sancho is not a Board member, but has taken credit for its creation. It begs the question, should the Sport Ministry be “pushing” a women’s league of which its employees are the Board, and the Sport Minister is its intellectual creator?

And, is there a conflict of interest, given that both (Sport Minister) Sancho and his “special adviser” and business partner, Englishman Kevin Harrison, who have close association with Central FC, which has a women’s football team.

Central FC’s website still list Minister Sancho as managing director, and Harrison as operations manager -– not that either are contractually linked with the WPL.

WPL may turn out to be a great opportunity for local women footballers to play a higher standard of the game. But it all seem rushed.

The WPL has been shrouded in the same secrecy indicative of the infamous and now stagnanted Life Sport programme in its early days. No one, it seems, knew what the new WPL was about, or who are really behind it. At least, no one is willing to talk.

The one thing for sure is that they have a gmail address:

Since announcing the competition, Minister Sancho is most times unreachable. Most communication comes from Natasha Nunez, who denies that she is the voice of the WPL.

“I am the public relations officer of the Sports Company, but because some of the principals of the WPL work at the Sports Company, I am assisting in some regard,” said Nunez, who pledged to e-mail some information in the composition of the Board and the impending competition.

Two dates later, and after another request, Nunez provided the Board members in a brief text: “The Board of Directors of the registered non-profit organisation Womens Premier League Trinidad and Tobago are: Camara David, Kairon Serrette, Richard Oliver, and one representative each of the TTFA and WoLF, who are to be confirmed later this month,” Nunez’s text stated.

Telephone enquiries to Oliver, acting deputy secretary in the Ministry of Sport, never got past his secretary, who said he was in a conference call with the Minister. “He said you could speak to Kairon (Serrette) or Kamara (David) at the Sport Company for further information,” she said.

Several calls to David and Serrette at the Sport Company went unanswered, the last response from the operator at the Sports Company 623-1954) being: “I transferred the call, but he (Kairon Serrette) was not at his desk.

So the rushed, disorganised, WPL appears destined to get off the ground. But, will it be only a one-hit wonder, should its “creator” not be in a position of influence after the September 7 general election.