FORMER Strike Squad coach Everald “Gally” Cummings remembered behavioural psychologist Shirley Rudd-Ottley as the mother of the Strike Squad team and a woman who was always respected by TT footballers.
Rudd-Ottley, who was the psychologist for both the 1973 and 1989 national teams, which both fell just short of qualifying for the FIFA World Cup, died on Thursday. Details of her death are not clear at this time.
“She was the mother of the Strike Squad,” Cummings told Newsday in an interview.
But, he said, the former TT footballers will not be able to gather to reflect on the life of Rudd-Ottley because of the covid19 pandemic.
Cummings said Rudd-Ottley brought positivity to the national teams she worked with and was willing to make tough decisions.
Cummings recalled a moment when Rudd-Ottley identified a player who was excelling on the field, but because he was not mentally ready, told Cummings he should not play in one of the matches.
Cummings also described her as a motivator who was also able to pinpoint players who were creating disunity within the squad.
The former TT coach said often the job of the head coach is the main focus, but Rudd-Ottley’s role was pivotal.
“In building the Strike Squad, motivation is always the key, and she built the fellas up to a standard where they could have dealt with anything that other teams had to offer. She dealt with the entire technical staff and players, and then she worked with them individually as well as collectively.”
On the respect she earned, Cummings said, “She was well respected by everybody – technical staff as well as players.
“She was a fantastic human being.”
Cummings said when Rudd-Ottley’s expertise was used during the 1974 World Cup campaign it was the first time, to his knowledge, that a psychologist had worked with for a national football team.
“On behalf of my family to her family, (I want to) express deepest condolences, and may her soul rest in peace.”