Theophilus: Jasai’s development better served by US camp than Concacaf U-15 Championship

EPL Infrafred Sauna

“[…] Jasai Theophilus isn’t going on a trial and I never said such. Instead, I chose to have MY 13-YEAR-OLD SON continue his development over this holiday period at a three-week development camp hosted by Mr Anthony Rougier, which I believe would augur well during this learning phase of his life…”

The following statement on the immediate future of Trinidad and Tobago Boys’ National Under-15 winger Jasai Theophilus was submitted by his father, Stefan Theophilus, in response to comments by national coach Shawn Cooper:

Trinidad and Tobago flanker Jasai Theophilus (right) takes the Jamaica defence for a run during international friendly action at the Mannie Ramjohn Stadium on 23 July 2023.
Photo: Brian Miller/ Wired868

Dear all and Lasana Liburd,

I am the parent of Jasai Theophilus and as usual the emotions of a coach has gotten the better of them. Jasai isn’t going on a trial and I never said such.

Instead, I chose to have MY 13-YEAR-OLD SON continue his development over this holiday period at a three-week development camp hosted by Mr Anthony Rougier, which I believe would augur well during this learning phase of his life.

Without getting into details, we were invited by Mr Rougier and confirmation was only made when I had tickets in my hand Monday afternoon. For coach Shawn Cooper to talk as if we “used” the programme is ridiculous as we parents only found out about those Jamaica games last week.

We’ve always been told that this “elite high-performance programme” isn’t a team but rather a development programme focused on improving the footballing quality of our younger athletes.

Trinidad and Tobago U-15 head coach Shawn Cooper (third from right) tries to encourage his players during international friendly action against Jamaica at the Mannie Ramjohn Stadium on 23 July 2023.
Photo: Brian Miller/ Wired868

This is also the plan I’ve always had for my son and at this U-15 level the focus should only be about development and development only.

Unfortunately, when I gave the CORRECT information of Jasai’s departure to Mr Nigel Roberts (manager) and he walked over to coach Cooper to give him the info and told him the parents would like to speak to him, he chose to not speak to us.

But rather spoke to his interviewer immediately after being given this report. Unfortunately, this action bore the fruit of this entirely inaccurate article as it pertains to my son.

The Trinidad and Tobago U15 starting XI pose before kickoff against Jamaica in friendly international action at the Mannie Ramjohn Stadium on 23 July 2023.
Jasai Theophilus is furthest left in the bottom row.
Photo: Brian Miller/ Wired868

I am a coach with the US Virgin Islands Soccer Association as well and I’ve been to a total of four of these U-15 championships with both the girls and boys teams and I understand at this level.

Though it’s a great opportunity for the youth, it’s simply a developmental trip and that is exactly what my son is going to.

Last year, the boys trained extremely hard for months only to be heartbroken four days before the tournament with TTFA citing “flight problems”.

So, when I place both opportunities on a scale, given these past recent events, it would be remiss of me to snub Mr Rougier’s once in a lifetime invitation.

To end, I would like to share what my son said when I presented the opportunity to him as he made the final decision in staying or going.

QPCC flanker Jasai Theophilus (left) tries to keep the ball from Pro Series defender Nadeem Grant during the Republic Cup NYFL U-15 final on 10 June 2023.
Photo: Brian Miller/ Wired868

My 13-year-old son had the wisdom to say: “Dad I’ll go on the US trip as this will help me be a better player in the future for my country.”

The U-15 squad is packed with quality and I’m actually shocked that this opening paragraphs about my son were necessary, as at this level it simply should have been just to replace my son and wish us well.

I do wish the team all the best and I hope the educated minds at the TTFA wish Jasai all the best as well, since he’s doing this to become a better player for his country.

Photo: Football Factory’s Pierce Dalton-Brown (top) is tackled by Pro Series’ Jasai Theophilus during RBYL action at the Queen’s Park Savannah on 30 March 2019.
(Copyright Allan V Crane/ CA-Images/ Wired868)

Editor’s Note: Click HERE to read the initial comments by Trinidad and Tobago coach Shawn Cooper, during his pre-match discussion on their international friendly outing against Jamaica.

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4 comments

  1. It would be interesting to know what is the development opportunity. I know Rougier has a foundation/academy: https://www.arsfoundation.org/.

  2. I am 100 percent of support of the decision made by is dad for his development

  3. As a parent I cannot comprehend the level of badmind coach will have towards this player in the future
    Is almost as though the kid’s dad had some personal vendetta against Cooper, eh?
    Long. Watery. Steups. These people jokey bad yes. 1-1 draw and all of a sudden is the parents fault and the boy shoulder fault. Ent?

  4. Cooper does move like a drama queen when he ready. Heard about other issues with him regarding his inability to work with some coaches. Seems like his ego is getting the better of him. I think he is very good youth coach especially with players in the 16-19 age group.
    The parent is free to choose what he believes to be best for his son.

    However, I don’t see how that 3 week camp can be better for development compared to playing versus international opposition. But the parent has a good reason for choosing the camp over the tournament based on the TTFA track record of failing to ensure our teams play in tournaments.

    I hope Cooper does not hold a grudge against the player/parent. It would be sad to see a 13 year old player miss out on future selection since Cooper is the U15 and U17 coach.

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