TECHNICAL Director of Trinidad and Tobago football Anton Corneal, who was part of the coaching staff for the TT Women’s team at the recent CONCACAF Under-20 World Cup Qualifier said yesterday that the performance of the team showed that the gap between this country and the top teams in the CONCACAF region has closed.
At a luncheon to welcome the team on their return home following their disastrous 7-3 defeat by Costa Rica in the Cayman Islands, Corneal said “I know it would have been a challenge but you guys have closed the gap on the top teams in CONCACAF in a very short space of time and you must be commended for it. The results showed we did not go the distance but it also showed that for 85 minutes we were at our first ever world cup.”
He added “Yes we are disappointed. But you know what, we have got something to work towards now.”
“We are happy and thankful for the support that we are getting but we wanted to qualify for the World Cup. I can assure you every girl, every and staff member wanted it. We wanted to give women’s football that opportunity but nothing happens before it’s time.”
The former national player praised the Ministry of Sports and minister Anil Roberts for their support of the team.
“With the support of the Ministry the players have done a wonderful job. It is impossible for us to compete without that support. We appreciate the support, the Ministry of Sports, the Sports Company as well as money from corporate Trinidad and Tobago” Corneal said.
The ex national senior team coach explained that the focus was on getting the national women’s senior team to qualify for the 2015 World Cup in Canada. “Right behind the under 20 girls is the senior team. As a matter of fact, the CFU qualify leg will begin in two months. We have a plan that has to be put in place. We have half our team here and the other half in the US so we have to plan for it. We have to get through the first round.”
Multiple Commonwealth and Pan American medallist Cleopatra Borel has advised the country’s under 20 team to use the pain of failing to qualifying for this year’s FIFA Under 20 Women’s World Cup in August later this year as a catalyst for achieving excellence. Speaking at the reception Borel said she had use her disappointment at the 2008 Olympics Games to inspire her.
“Today I would like to pass on some of the knowledge I have gain over my ten year career in track and field. I want to share a story with the team that I hope will inspire you. After the Beijing Olympics (in 2008) I didn’t have a good campaign and I was riding on a train and I started to replay my event.
And like that I burst into tears. And that moment I knew that I was in it for the long run. Your greatest disappointment in sports, your greatest disappointment in life sometimes turn out to be your greatest source of motivation.”
Borel also told the team members that the void left by the failure must be filled. “There is a space you girls feel right now and it is an empty space that should have been your trip to the World Cup. You have to fill that space with something. You can’t fill it with fear. You can’t be afraid to keep going. What you have to do is to push yourself” Borel said.
The three-time Olympian also encouraged the girls to give more in training to do better in the future. “The media said the team was not fit and therefore suffered in the last five minutes. Everytime you come to the end of practice you have to remember that.
Your coaches’ job now is to tell you that’s enough. It is time to go home. It is time to leave. Because you are out there so motivated by this event that you are going to push yourself. Eventually you are going to be on the national team and think how amazing that team will be at point time because of this experience.”
The national team missed out one qualifying for the FIFA Under 20 women’s World Cup after losing to Costa Rica by 7-3 in the third place play-off of the CONCACAF Championships in the Cayman Islands on Sunday.