Lauren Gregg: NFF Found Me Intimidating
Finally coming out to give her side of the story after being allegedly banned from Nigeria's World Cup party by the NFF, Lauren Gregg (Coach Waldrum's right-hand woman) has a lot to say, according to an article I read in the Equalizer magazine.
“What they don’t understand [is that] a great leader wants strong people around them," said Lauren Gregg to media outlet Equalizer.
She went on to say: "Culturally, though, that’s not normal for them [in Nigeria]. I was seen as too opinionated for them. They saw me as having too much influence."
"It became an issue for them. They wanted their Nigerian coaches to be more prominent."
"We all play different roles. That’s how teams and the ‘team around the team’ are built.'
"When I was there, the Nigerian coaches felt sublimated and less important. They had to understand two things: I do have more experience. And two, almost everything I did, they had just as much opportunity to offer an opinion." Added Gregg.
All these came on the backdrop of the vibes she got as Waldrum's assistant in the Women's Afcon last year. Gregg said that Waldrum has made it clear that he welcomes critique, questions and opinions but the NFF officials who witnessed their interactions didn't particularly like her style.
“Because I’m willing to challenge him, willing to put my opinion out there, willing to speak my mind, it’s seen as threatening,” Gregg said.
“They don’t understand that Randy is fully capable and will filter any advice from me or anyone else and make his own decisions. He’s his own man, he’s his own coach, but I have an obligation to point out whatever I can to make us better," said Gregg.
It was a very long article I read with much interest. Gregg would go on to suggest that she used her own time and money to support the team in recent times despite NFF not footing the bill.
She claimed was not allowed to join the team for the Revelations Cup in Mexico in February. However, she went on her own dime to help the team, she claimed.
Although she couldn't join the team in Turkey for the Revelations Cup in April, Gregg said: “I had to do this remotely due to cost but stayed in touch with Randy and provided scouting and match analysis,” she said. “I want to help Randy and this team. I have been dedicated and committed to their success at every step for over two years.”
Yewande or Gregg, Pick One
Now, coming to the circumstances around her axing from the World Cup roster, Gregg said Waldrum was in effect asked to pick between her and goalkeeper Yewande Balogun.
She said, after the NFF had canceled the 2 week training session in Nigeria (before jetting off to Australia) her and Waldrum recommended, the Federation still wanted them to take a local goalkeeper that they (NFF) had been raving about - a goalkeeper whom her and Waldrum couldn't vouch for her technical capabilities.
"It’s not that we have anything against her — we just haven’t worked with her,” she said of the young goalkeeper. When Randy stood to his guns of picking Yewande Balogun in place of the homebased goalkeeper according to the terms of his contract, the NFF then allegedly chose to punish him by axing most trusted assistant Lauren from the World Cup.
Gregg supplied a text message to the media outlet from an unnamed source from NFF about her exclusion from the World Cup. It stated, “This is on Randy, who chose who to take to the [World Cup]. Apparently, he found Yewande a more valuable asset to the team than you are. That is why Yewande is in the team, and you are not. This is all Randy now.”
Gregg still keeps World Cup hopes alive
"I want to stick with them. I love this team, and I would do anything to help them be successful,” Gregg said.
“I care deeply about them. To be this target of discrimination and retaliation is shocking to us. Randy tried multiple times with texts, emails and phone calls, and in the last three weeks, hasn’t had any responded to directly. How do we communicate as adults, for the betterment of the team, if we can’t talk to each other?”
“That’s one thing I implore [the federation]: Let’s have a dialogue,” Gregg continued. “Let’s figure out what’s missing here. How can we come to a point where we can accomplish what we both want: the success of the team."
"For me, it has great consequences. I can’t help the team as much. I can certainly help from afar, and I can do what I’ve done for Randy. But we could be splitting up training; I could take sessions. It’s a huge loss for Randy and the team for no explained reason.”
"It makes no sense not to include someone who has the most World Cup experience," she added (Lauren has World Cup and Olympics winners medals with the United States women's football team).
As the World Cup inches closer, Gregg continues to wait and see whether she’ll get to go.
“If the NFF truly does want this team to succeed and maximize their performance, then they will support the players in all respects, carrying out Randy’s vision, and I will be there coaching with him and our staff at the World Cup,” she said.
“And if I can’t go, I will do everything I can to help him from here.”
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