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T&T women fly out to Pan Am games; Sancho’s intervention saves day for footballers.

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).


Funding woe$ again
By Joel Bailey (Newsday).

IN A near-virtual repeat of the issue which gained nationwide, and even global condemnation last October, members of the national women football team, dubbed the “Women Soca Warriors”, yesterday threatened to boycott their flight, and henceforth miss the Pan American Games in Toronto, Canada due to lack of stipends and per diems for the 18-member squad.

Nearly a year ago, then team coach Randy Waldrum highlighted the fact that the players arrived in Houston, Texas, United States, for the CONCACAF Women’s Championships, with only US$500 as spending money.

Over the weekend, veteran striker Kennya Cordner took to Facebook to lament the lack of financial assistance towards the team, particularly from the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA), as the respective players were each given US$600 as stipend for the July 10-26 Games.

Cordner, on her Facebook page, posted on Saturday, “so on Monday 6th of July I would not be going to Canada without any stipend .This is ridiculous. Now I would let people know what allyuh 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.”

On Sunday, Cordner, again on her Facebook page, commented, “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 red, white and black.

“But it is the constant disrespect from the TTFA I cannot take .A few months ago we brought this country together, we changed the face of women’s football but yet still we are treated like we are nobody why must that be? It’s unfair to us, look we have Pan Am Games and not even a practice game. Why because we not worth it? Ladies it’s about time we stop taking the disrespect because we are human not robots,” she declared.

Contacted for a comment, Sports Minister Brent Sancho stated that he was informed of the developments on Sunday night. “But I assured them that I would have discussions with the (TTFA) with relation to it,” he said. “So they eventually decided that they were going to play.”

The Sports Minister emphasised, “my main concern is that we didn’t have a second Houston scenario. I wanted to make sure I do everything in my power, to make sure that they got on the flight and represented the country. I must admit I am a bit disappointed that everything has come to (this).”

Most of the players on the current TT team were on the same squad who struggled last year to receive financial aid from the TTFA.

And Sancho pointed out, “the Ministry have gone above and beyond. We’ve been housing these players since the start of the WPL (Women’s Premier League). The question is what is happening with the TTFA. They keep finding themselves in this situation.”

Concerning the players’ threat to skip the Pan Am Games as a mark of protest, the Sports Minister noted, “a lot of them were frustrated that, despite all that happened the last time, they’ve come back to the same juncture - it’s really heart-wrenching. We’re hoping to have a conversation with the (TTFA) this week so they can explain what is really going on.

“I have met with them about five or six times over the past two months, and they have not once put in any sort of request for the women’s team.”

However, Sheldon Phillips, general secretary of the TTFA, described the entire episode as “a case of misinformation.”

He admitted, “we were able to resolve the issue. Currently, the situation is, the Ministry has told us that the funds they said were available, we didn’t have access to it. We had decided to call upon some emergency funding from CONCACAF in order to get partial payments of per diems to the players that were leaving for the Pan Am Games. We hope to get the funds that the Ministry said that were available for us several weeks ago.”

Asked how much funds were supplied to the players, Phillips replied, “the funding for that really comes from the TTOC (TT Olympic Committee).

“We are able to, from the TTFA funds, commit to US$600 per player, and the remaining money, what we have budgeted from the subvention, from the allocation from the Ministry of Sport.”

About the players’ proposed plan to boycott the Games, Phillips remarked, “we have heard that was an utterance and we got some phone calls from players alerting us to the sentiments of some of the players. It’s something we don’t want to see materialise so we took steps to resolve the matter.”