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‘Soca Princesses’ had a slim chance

by Alvin Corneal

Our national women’s football team, the ‘Soca Princesses’, has not been able to achieve their goal at the Concacaf leg of the World Cup qualifying series.

In a group which consists of USA, Panama, and Mexico, the picture seemed tough, knowing that the USA is the highest ranked women’s team in the world by FIFA.

T&T still appeared to be in with a chance to qualify, if they could get the second spot in the group. But defeat to Panama (3-0) in their first match on October 4, and then to Mexico (4-1) on October 7 reduced their chance, even before they had played their final match against USA last Wednesday (no result available up to press time).

Off the field, there was nothing which implied that the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association had been putting things in place for on the field play.

The question of funding for the players, their transport, their hotel, and even their pocket money was tardy, while there was juggling to replace their head coach in the last 14 days leading to the first encounter against Panama in Cary, North Carolina.

How could any player prepare well with these numerous financial issues in mind and the uncertainty as to who will be the coach of the team?

While the relevant committee was playing hide and seek since the resignation of former coach Jamaal Shabazz, there was never an organised training programme which would lead the fans to believe that our team was improving.

Then, there was the question of the players expressing their views mainly through social media, an activity which should not be allowed.

Yes, there are times when disappointment presents itself leading up to international tournaments, but there should be some form of dialogue between the players and the executive committee.

I suppose that the policy of having the players sign written contracts could include a violation clause regarding players speaking to the media; it could start at a particular date prior to the beginning of team preparation until some weeks after the end of the competition.

It is time that a strong effort be made for professional behaviour by all players who are selected on national teams. It is also high time coaches in every sport ensure that their players understand the value of operating within a collective where matured minds dictate the direction for a well-trained unit.

Judging from what has been published in the media, a level of individualism among the players may have been their greatest deterrent. Team sports must be void of single-minded attitudes, simply because it takes cohesion among the players on the field to earn success.

This lesson may well have come at a time to restart the girls’ soccer programmes and other team sporting disciplines.

Why do the technocrats in the various sports not insist upon that type of training with the physical, technical and tactical processes of team preparation?

Funnily enough, why should I hope that this practice will prevail when the principles of team play have been the leading deficiencies at most times?

This brings us to the need for educating our coaches and teachers of the methodology which can change the pattern of activity in our team sports. That’s a topic for another day.