Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) technical director Anton Corneal called for the prioritising of the local football body’s development programmes after a second national youth team was forced to forfeit an international tournament in the space of two weeks.
Last month, the TTFA withdrew its Girls National Under-15 Team from the Concacaf Championship, which kicked off in Tampa, Florida on 31 July. And, on Tuesday, it was the turn of the Boys National Under-14 outfit.
Yesterday, the Caribbean Football Union (CFU) Boys Under-14 Challenge Series kicked off in the Dominican Republic without the twin island republic and Corneal told Wired868 it was the same problem: no funds.
“It is no different to the Girls Team,” said Corneal, “because of the cost of going to the Dominican Republic, the TTFA just doesn’t have the funding to do it.”
On Thursday, the TTFA revealed that its Men’s Team would travel to Thailand in October to participate in a four-nation tournament called the King’s Cup. The local football body did not provide any financial details but it is presumed that the Thailand FA would pick up the tab for the Soca Warriors.
In contrast, the TTFA, now steered by a Robert Hadad-led Fifa-appointed normalisation committee, needed to pay its own travel cost for its youth teams while accommodation and meals would be provided by the Concacaf or CFU respectively.
Fifa also provides an annual travel allowance to all FAs to help offset such bills. But, even then, the local football body said it could not afford to and a late plea to the Ministry of Sport and Community Development for financial assistance was unsuccessful.
“I am hoping that the money comes on stream to give these teams the necessary exposure to dream, to grow, and to see the international standards,” said Corneal, “and to get the experience of playing, leaving the country, socialising—exposure is so important.”
The disappointed national youth players will now be expected to switch their focus to the upcoming Secondary Schools Football League (SSFL). Corneal noted that the under-14/15 outfits operate as “higher performance teams” and will train for eight months every year, whether or not there is a competition to enter.
“It is a high performance programme where training is of a certain intensity,” said Corneal, who explained that each team caters for about 40 players. “We do sessions which are based on the development of the game for those players. One day we may do speed of play with combination passes, or individual pressing, small-sided games with a specific objective, transitional play, etc.
“So it is slightly different to a national team. This is preparation for players who may be on a national team one day.”
Due to Hadad’s inability to raise funding or allocate sufficient resources for the junior teams, their first taste of international football will have to wait.