MANAGER of the national women’s football team, Jinelle James, has refuted the claim by the TT Football Association (TTFA) that she made “no approach” to its president David John-Williams or general secretary Justin Latapy-George for an overseas camp prior to two TT footballers going on social media last week to beg for support to host one.
James, in a letter to the media, provided a copy of an email sent on September 10 to Latapy-George and copied to John-Williams, technical director Anton Corneal and chairman of the technical committee Richard Quan Chan. National football Lauryn Hutchinson posted a video online three days after that date, asking for food, water and people in Virigina to open their homes to accommodate our women footballers for a pre-tournament camp. Canadian-based TT defender Arin King called for equality and respect for the national women on Twitter.
The national women’s team are preparing for the CONCACAF Women’s Championship in the United States, from October 4-17. The CONCACAF Championship serves as the final round of qualifiers for the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup in France.
According to James, “the TTFA sent out a media release which is completely misleading and I have no choice but to respond and defend myself against this attempt to sully my reputation.”
She added, “On Monday 10 September, I sent an e-mail to the general secretary and copied president, technical director (Anton Corneal) and technical committee chair (Richard Quan Chan) that itemises all areas of concern for the team that included salaries for staff and players, US visas, US team camp and seeking assistance and fund-raisers. To date, no one has responded to that e-mail,” said James.
She also addressed the TTFA’s statement that she was never authorised to approach the Ministry of Sport to request funds for the team. “I had a conversation with (Latapy-George) that spoke to seeking assistance to the Ministry of Sport.”
James added, “He informed me that it is the end of (the) financial year and it wouldn’t be possible to get any support due to the timelines when all financials had to be submitted.”
When she informed Latapy-George about the urgent need for support, the TTFA general secretary, according to James, “responded that I can go ahead and reach to the Ministry to see what is possible. “I made a call to the Ministry, explained that we needed to get the team together and hence the e-mail was sent to get a gauge of if and how much support can be received for the team.”
On Friday, James and Latapy-George held a meeting with Minister of Sport and Youth Affairs Shamfa Cudjoe who gave the TTFA a Monday deadline to submit a proposal for financial assistance for the TT women’s team.
Cudjoe revealed last evening that her Ministry will provide over $400,000 towards the team’s preparation for the CONCACAF Championship. James, a long-standing team manager, admitted yesterday, “I am well aware that this release may jeopardise my position (on) the women’s team, but I must stand up for some measure of principle and my own values.”
Speaking to Newsday, James said she is uncertain now about the status of her relationship with the TTFA. “At this point, I really can’t say,” she acknowledged in a telephone interview. “It might be strained, it might be untenable, it might be business as usual.
“However, I think the whole situation looked pretty much like throwing me under the bus, publicly. I think it was dealt with poorly and I just had to defend myself.”
The TT manager has received an outpouring of support from national women footballers on social media for standing up for their rights.
James said it was a challenge to get the team to Jamaica for the CONCACAF Caribbean Finals last month and she did not wish to see it happen again.
According to James, three foreign-based players arrived in Jamaica on August 20, 12 persons (six players and six staff) on August 22, two persons on a separate flight, five players on August 24, two players on the morning of the first match on August 25 and two players afterwards.
“Am I expected to watch this happen again and do nothing, not try to get assistance for the team?” asked James. She also clarified a point made by the TTFA that the team participated in 19 international matches in the last 18 months.
“Out of these 19 matches, four were actual friendlies and (the rest) were all part of the calendar of events for women’s football in the region – CFU Challenge Series, CONCACAF Caribbean Preliminary, the CAC Games where the TT Olympic Committee covered the majority of expenses and the recently concluded CONCACAF Caribbean Finals.”
In her statement, James asked, “Are players and staff just supposed to step lightly and not enquire about their salaries when it is late? Are the players not supposed to get frustrated and have a voice as they realise nothing is being done to help the team?”
Contacted for a response, Latapy-George, who admitted that he saw James’ statement, was coy when asked if he was privy to the TTFA’s media release before it was issued on Monday afternoon.
“I want you to have a chat with the president,” said Latapy-George. “This (matter) has to be with the (TTFA) and the employee.”
However, he pointed out, “It is poor management practice to engage publicly in matters that appears to be a challenge being raised by an employee. Best management practice dictates that I am the representative of the employer, in this case the TTFA.
“It is my right and my responsibility to have a direct discussion with Ms James and not engage in any public discourse that can add any more noise to that particular situation. It is standard management practice that these matters are dealt with internally.”
Repeated calls to John-Williams went unanswered up to press time last evening.