Aftermath of failed World Cup campaign…
TWO MEMBERS of the TT women football team have thrown their support behind American-born Randy Waldrum, who recently expressed his desire to return as the team coach for the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup qualifiers.
The pair, who spoke under condition of anonymity, were scathing in their views of the failed 2019 World Cup campaign, which featured three persons (Jamaal Shabazz, Anton Corneal and Shawn Cooper) holding the positions as team coach during this calendar year.
They also condemned the lack of support from the local governing body TTFA (TT Football Association) in the lead-up to the CONCACAF Women’s Championship in the United States in October.
Defenders Lauryn Hutchinson and Arin King took to social media to call for support for the T&T women programme, as well as assistance for a pre-tournament camp in Richmond, Virginia.
In September, Waldrum sent an email to the TTFA hierarchy in which he wrote, “I love your country and more importantly the players in the programme, so I would certainly entertain the possibility of returning to coach the team again.”
Waldrum noted, “I’m not so concerned about my personal financial compensation. However, I would expect a stipend while working for the team.”
Waldrum, with his son Ben as his assistant, coached the T&T women team to within one win of reaching the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Canada.
According to one T&T player, “Randy Waldrum and Ben Waldrum speak for themselves. I have nothing but the utmost respect for those men. They entered a foreign territory and culture and took upon themselves and their hearts to do anything for the women of TT.”
The player added, “Randy sacrificed everything for us, showed us a level of professionalism and, if he had the chance to implement his plan, we would not be a national embarrassment. And the (team) from the U-15s up, would have a stable pool.”
Another T&T stand-out noted, “We have barely any talent from our youth in Trinidad, but if Randy came back, the programme would be revived. I want Randy and Ben.
“Foreign-based players who are good would come back, he would cast a wider net and he would develop our youth. Just let Randy do his thing and we will get back to where we should be.
“Randy and Ben have had nothing but positive things to say about the Trini girls they have coached, they have helped girls go pro and play in the States.”
A lack of marketing and a lack of concern from the TTFA have been blamed for the shortage of players getting professional contracts abroad.
“Ask yourself why do national team members not have pro contracts?” one player asked. “No one markets us and no one cares.”
The players were critical of the technical staff during their disastrous CONCACAF Championships stint. T&T were beaten 3-0 by Panama (October 4), 4-1 by Mexico (October 7) and 7-0 to the hosts US (October 10).
“We did not practice at a field with goal (posts) (during) the last two practices when CONCACAF provides fields,” one player revealed. “Didn’t do set pieces until the day before the USA game on a field with no goals.”
The players added they've yet to get any payment – or even encouragement – from the TTFA, which is led by president David John-Williams.
“If you can’t sustain a women’s programme, (you) don’t have one,” one player declared. “We get no stipend, no match fee, no food money. I took a loss playing for the national team.”
The other player commented, “We were not good in CAC Games, we were not good in Jamaica (for the Caribbean Football Union final round), so how were we ever going to be good for the most important tournament we had, for (the) CONCACAF Championships.
“Over the course of April-October the team did not get better, but how did you expect to get better with three different coaches, players struggling to get to practice, and players foreign-based expected to drop everything and go into a mess of a situation in Trinidad.
“But we still sacrificed to go play for the national team because we cared.”
Italian-born Carolina Morace was named as T&T women coach in January 2017, but she resigned in June of that year, owing to unpaid salaries and differences with the TTFA.
One player pointed out, “I never had Carolina as a coach but everyone said she had a plan in place before practice, was out there early to set up, and was professional in every set of the way and players saw improvement.
“Randy Waldrum got the most out of players, had organised structure and professionalism. He always had a plan in place and could get more out of the girls than any coach in Trinidad could because he demanded respect in a professional manner.”
An issue that is prevalent they concurred was the lack of respect for foreign-based players by coaches and the local governing body.
“There has been this thing where foreign-based players get treated weirdly because they think (the players are) spoiled and entitled. No, we just see how things at home are run, and when we come to Trinidad it’s always one thing after another in how bad sessions are run, barely having treatment, paying for everything out of pocket to be on a national team I’m sorry, the women’s programme deserves more.”