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Trinidad and Tobago: Against All Odds

Trinidad and Tobago: Against All Odds

Posted by Shanelle Weir on November 28, 2014

One game is all that stands between the Trinidad and Tobago Women’s National Team and an improbable spot in the 2015 Women’s World Cup. A victory on December 2nd in Port of Spain would make the country the first Caribbean nation to ever qualify for the Women’s World Cup. For a group that is generally underfunded, reaching the World Cup would mark an amazing achievement when so often survival has been the order of the day.

Survive is exactly what the team, which has earned the shift in nickname from Soca Princesses to Soca Warriors, did in the first leg of their World Cup playoff against Ecuador on November 8th in Quito. Playing at an altitude of 9,127 feet, the Trinidadian side fought, clawed and gasped its way to a 0-0 draw, a result that was pleasing for head coach Randy Waldrum. “It was a really good result for us. I’m really proud of the group. To go in there and now have a chance to go back and play again at home will be a really exciting game on the 2nd.”

The impact of the high altitude was fully felt by the team, however, with two players having to be taken to the hospital after the game with altitude sickness; one coming off at the end of the game while the other collapsed in the locker room afterwards.

“In South Bend, you play in the snow and the cold, and you know I’ve played in extreme heat before. I don’t think I can ever think of a condition that is more difficult than the altitude there. It was unbelieveable. I was telling some people back home that when I would literally step off the bench to walk out on the track to go try and yell some instructions to the field; you’d get light headed just in that walk. I can only imagine trying to play a game,” said Waldrum of the conditions.

Trinidad and Tobago spent seven days training in Mexico City ahead of the match in Quito preparing for the altitude. According to Waldrum, “I don’t think we would have made it had we not been able to go do that training. I’ve just never felt anything like it.”

The barriers that Trinidad and Tobago has overcome to reach this stage do not start with a game at altitude, however. The financial support and the facilities the team has had to work with are well documented. Less well documented are the other challenges the team has faced in preparing for its matches starting from the availability of players for training and going through its preparation matches ahead of World Cup qualifying.

Following the first leg of the playoff, the team went off in different directions – the college kids back to school and those who did not have club commitments back to Trinidad and Tobago to work with the strength coach on fitness. Waldrum returned to Houston for Houston Dash related business. He headed back down to T&T on November 24th for a training camp ahead of the second leg. The Thanksgiving holiday has meant the availability of the college kids to train with the full squad, the first time that has happened.

“We’ll have about 8 or 9 days to get ready. It will actually be the first time since I’ve had the team that we’ll have the entire team together for any kind of training. Every other camp we’ve never had the entire team. We’ve never had the college kids, the foreign based kids. It’s shocking, I mean here we are at the end and still with a chance and it will be the first time we have them together.”

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