THERE IS a new coach at the helm of the TT Under-19 women’s cricket team as Kelvin Williams, who previously worked with the TT Red Force outfit, replaced Gerald Garcia, who was dismissed from his post on February 8 for an alleged inappropriate comment on Whatsapp towards a player after coaching the team for two years.
According to Gayle Daniel-Worrell, president of the TT Women’s Cricket Association (TTWCA), “The coach was dismissed because we felt that several texts that he sent to a player (were) inappropriate. We have a zero-tolerance policy for anything of that sort.”
Daniel-Worrell said yesterday the TTWCA found out about the matter on February 6 and met with the 18-year-old player that same day. They held a meeting with Garcia on February 7 and removed him as coach a day later.
But Garcia, who has over 30 years of coaching experience, admitted he simply commented on a headshot sent to him by the player, via Whatsapp, in October. Garcia pointed out that the player and/or her family may have a grievance with him due to her inability to regain full fitness following an appendix surgery. He is pondering legal action against the TTWCA for wrongful dismissal and is eager to have his name cleared.
“It’s an issue I still have to deal (with) from a legal standpoint because it’s something that could affect my career,” said Garcia yesterday. “I simply complimented a picture that a player sent to me, a headshot. I believe there is more to it than just that particular incident because the family and I, and the player in question, get along very well and this whole thing was done without a proper investigation.”
He continued, “There is a lot of perception involved in this already and my name is the only thing that I have left. I don’t want back the job, all I want back is my name.”
Garcia said he has been receiving support from numerous parents over this scenario. “Everybody has been expressing their disappointment over how this matter was handled. They never gave me a chance to explain everything in detail.” Garcia said the player in question was complaining from complications due to a recent appendix surgery. “I gave (her) time off because it’s wrong to have players training who are complaining about pain. I spoke to her mother and father and advised them that she should see a specialist in St Clair (Medical Complex). I asked her not to come to training until this thing was cleared up.”
He continued, “(Her) mother told me that (the player) said I dumped her but I said ‘once she can get clearance from you let her come’. She never did because she said she got the virus. After that, she said she wanted me to do some sessions with her, which her mother and father was aware about.
“I did the sessions to show her some things on her own. I showed her some exercises, both physical and practical, with her sister and mother (in attendance). That was in January. We were communicating for a long time. Anywhere she go, she would send (photos) of her family.
“When she sent the particular (picture) was in October,” Garcia added. “In February I had a fitness test with the senior players and they had to pass the test to be considered for selection.”
Garcia said the player was unable to get time-off from school to attend that specific session. “I told her okay and she Whatsapped me that particular morning and asked if I’m vex with her and I said ‘no’.
“The reason that she said she wasn’t coming training because I complimented the pic and she wasn’t comfortable to come training, but in January she was asking me to do private sessions.”
Garcia hinted that his dismissal may be due to concerns over his coaching methods. “I think the (TTWCA) did this thing because some of the principles that I brought in (offended) some of the players who were there for a while. I feel it is an excuse to remove me. I never said anything disrespectful to her, it was always day-to-day talk about life and how she (took) care of herself.”
Daniel-Worrell confirmed the player is still a part of the TT Under-19 women’s team. “We are there for the players. The players are why we exist. We are there to protect players and any sort of impropriety, even a hint, is not acceptable.”
Referring to the appointment of Williams (who stepped down as Red Force coach in January), Daniel-Worrell said, “We’ve gotten a coach who’s working with the young people. That coach is in place and the team is doing quite well.”