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U-17 women’s coach quits, returns to Italy; Carolina continues with half her foreign staff
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Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) president David John-Williams restarted the Women’s National Team programme with a bang on 1 February 2017, as he unveiled respected Italian coach Carolina Morace and her foreign aides, Nicola Williams, Elisabetta Bavagnoli and Manuela Tesse, as assistants.

Morace, a former Canada head coach, was enlisted to head the programme and operate as Women’s National Senior Team coach with Williams as her assistant and Under-20 head coach, Tesse as Under-17 coach and Bavagnoli serving as assistant to all three coaches.

Four months on and only Morace and Williams, an Australian, remain though, as Wired868 was reliably informed that Tesse quit her post while it is uncertain whether Bavagnoli ever returned since her first visit to Trinidad. Tesse and Bavagnoli are both Italians.

John-Williams and National Under-17 Team manager Ricarda Nelson could not be reached for comment while the TTFA is yet to issue a release on Tesse’s departure.

Suggestions differ as to why Tesse’s quit the programme although most agreed that she was unenthused by the low-key operation of the youth team, which has no scheduled international games and is supposedly less resourced than the senior set up.

However, the senior Women Soca Warriors have not exactly been buzzing either. Their only two international outings so far ended in a goalless draw and 3-1 loss to a mediocre Venezuelan team while Morace fell out early with former senior team captain Maylee Attin-Johnson, veteran winger Ahkeela Mollon and gifted attacker Kennya “Yaya” Corder as well as equipment manager Steve Fredericks.

Morace’s time in Trinidad and Tobago so far has divided opinion with some hailing her as brave, knowledgeable and no-nonsense while detractors described her as abusive, divisive and dictatorial.

Regardless, the fiery Italian remains and, according to informed sources, has described her will to finish the job in Trinidad as absolute. Her contract with the TTFA takes her up until the France 2019 Women’s World Cup when, hopefully, the Women Warriors will qualify for a FIFA tournament for the first time.

Trinidad and Tobago’s only previous involvement at a Women’s World Cup came as host nation for the 2010 Under-17 tournament.

The senior women continue to train three times a week under Morace, who has widened her pool with an influx of United States-based players who are home on school vacation.

Some of the overseas-based players in the current training squad are: Victoria Swift, Maya Matouk, Jenelle Cunningham, Naomie Guerra, Chevonne John and Khadisha Debesette.

Morace told the TTFA Media that she has scheduled matches with local boys teams to get some playing time for her current squad.

“The matches are to get the players into the rhythm of the game and we have seized this opportunity to have them active,” said Morace. “The summer period goes until the end of July so we are hoping to be able to see more players and to finish this period with International matches.

“I have seen some new players that now add to the pool of players that are able to be selected and there are more players that I am still waiting to see which is necessary for us to have a better idea of what our best selection can be for international football.

“What is important is the players overseas have to realise what the international level is like and they have to prepare themselves physically to be ready to compete when called to duty.”

The 2017 Women’s League of Football (WOLF) competition is due to kick off on 10 June and runs until August. Morace has agreed to release all national players to train twice a day with their respective clubs and to play competitive matches on the weekend.

Once more, TTFA employee Sharon O’Brien will oversee the competition after being returned to the post of women’s football president at last Wednesday’s election but it was a fractious affair. The first vote ended seven-seven between O’Brien and challenger Vernetta Flanders, who was the body’s former general secretary. However, O’Brien prevailed eight-six in a second vote.

The electoral committee compromised of TTFA vice-presidents Ewing Davis and Joanne Salazar as well as Jamiyla Muhammad, which, Flanders suggested, was hardly an independent trio.

As a TTFA employee, O’Brien is, arguably, beholden to Davis and Salazar. And she is believed to have ingratiated herself to president John-Williams—not least by taking his daughter and W Connection boss, Renee John-Williams, to Costa Rica, as the sole Pro League representative to a FIFA TMS workshop, and voting along with the TTFA president to remove former men’s head coach Stephen Hart.

Notably, O’Brien’s first order of business, once re-elected, was to name the third member of the electoral committee, Muhammad, as her new general secretary.

The women’s body had also failed to adhere to article 27.3 of its constitution, which stipulated that all members should receive, among other documents, the Financial Statements and Independent External Auditors’ Report as well as the Budget at least 14 days before the AGM.

Instead, a balance sheet purporting to be a financial statement was issued to clubs on the day of the election with no accompanying independent report.

Flanders, a former Women Warriors team manager, said that, despite her dissatisfaction with the process, she will not contest the election result.