N Touch
Friday 19 April 2019
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Football madness

IT HAS happened again. Not a bad pass, not a hand ball, but a downright foul against our Women Soca Warriors.

We join with the national community in expressing outrage over the shameful treatment of our women’s national football team. One month ago they lost their couch. And this week frustrated footballers Arin King and Lauryn Hutchinson took to social media to beg for help to ensure the team has a chance to qualify for the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup in France.

“This is madness,” King said on her social media. She is right.

One of the indicators of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. To say this is a repeat of history is to understate the humiliating nature of the situation.

It was only in 2014 that the Women Soca Warriors garnered international attention when, having been sent to a camp in Dallas, Texas, coach Randy Waldrum took to Twitter to appeal for cash, equipment, transport and housing to help the team.

Those tweets sparked off a frenzy on social media, with offers made to assist the team, both in terms of financial support and meals. Haiti, the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere, agreed to donate some of their funds to help the beleaguered TT team.

Waldrum later apologised but the TTFA came under heavy criticism for the fiasco. Now it is the players themselves who have to do the begging. And at the most critical phase in their campaign.

Whatever has led us to this situation, the plight of our women’s footballers is a symptom of the craziness of our society and our disdain for women. It is an ugly reminder of the challenges females still face. It shows, and shows embarrassingly, the failure of our society to achieve true gender parity. Something like this would be unimaginable for any of our national-level male squads.

It was only this week that Sports Minister Shamfa Cudjoe launched the National Policy for Sport, described by our reporter Andrew Gioannetti as “an elaborate 64-page document intended to position sport as a viable alternative for economic diversity.”

Approved by Cabinet in January, the policy laments the lack of clarity, organisational responsibility, governance, funding and good financial management in sport, and mandates the ministry to take action. Now would be a good moment for the ministry, and perhaps the inter-ministerial funding committee, to address the problems facing women’s football.

It is demoralising for our footballers to witness the Sport Minister handing out cheques this week at a flashy ceremony while they turn to social media to beg for resources. But it is not the minister who manages day-to-day football affairs. The TTFA has really scored an own goal here.

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