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U-17 Warriors aim to hurdle obstacles on W/Cup journey

The Trinidad and Tobago national under-17 football team was brimming with confidence today, despite the shortcomings of the squad’s preparation, as the young “Soca Warriors” set off for the first qualifying phase of its Chile 2015 Under-17 World Cup.

Photo: Members from the Trinidad and Tobago national under-17 team pose for a photograph at the Piarco International Airport. (Courtesy Wired868)
Photo: Members from the Trinidad and Tobago national under-17 team pose for a photograph at the Piarco International Airport.
(Courtesy Wired868)

“We’re going there with every intention of topping the group and moving on to the next phase,” said head coach Shawn Cooper, via a press release. “This is a good bunch with a lot of hunger to qualify and represent their country with distinction.

“We may not have had the best line up of warm-up matches but we got in some decent sessions and a couple games against local pro teams, which I think put us in a good shape for the tournament.”

Last year, Cooper guided the previous under-17 squad to the quarterfinal round of the CONCACAF competition before the Warriors bowed out to host team, Panama.

The manner of the team’s departure today was revealing of the issues that continue to plague Trinidad and Tobago’s national squads.

The players left in two groups for St Lucia—at 7 am and 1 pm—and without national gear.

The “Soca Warriors” are sponsored by Joma but the outfits provided to the team had no logos. It is a recurring theme for Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) squads at the moment.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago defender Matthaeus Granger (left) and his teammates represented their country today in travel uniforms without any national logo or identifying marks. (Copyright Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago defender Matthaeus Granger (left) and his teammates represented their country today in travel uniforms without any national logo or identifying marks.
(Copyright Wired868)

There are, of course, more serious issues.

An unfortunate medical emergency denied the squad of the services of assistant coach Ross Russell and whittled the already undermanned technical staff down to just five persons: Cooper (head coach), Christopher Gouveia (manager), Gilbert Bateau (trainer), Ian Dore (therapist) and Devin Elcock (equipment manager).

Bateau doubles up as assistant coach while Dore will also act as goalkeeper coach and, presumably, Elcock will assist Gouveia with managerial duties when necessary. None of the technical staff members once received the agreed upon monthly stipend of $3,000 for their time and expertise while the players practised without adequate refreshments or training kits

This is the introduction to international football for Trinidad and Tobago’s 20 best players under the age of 17.

Regardless, this is the time when the teenaged men and their adult mentors must put the inadequacies of their preparation aside and do whatever is necessary to bring pride to the “red, black and white.”

Right back Matthaeus Granger, who is a St Ann’s Rangers player, told Wired868 that he was confident the squad will make Trinidad and Tobago proud.

“We have a good team and we are going to surprise people,” said the 16-year-old Granger. “We are going there to win.”

Trinidad and Tobago faces Grenada in its opening Caribbean Football Union (CFU) fixture on Wednesday at the Beausejour Stadium while the young Warriors will tackle Curacao on August 22 and host St Lucia on August 24.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago national under-17 head coach Shawn Cooper.
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago national under-17 head coach Shawn Cooper.

Grenada, Curacao and St Lucia all participated in the inaugural 2013 CONCACAF Under-15 competition, which Trinidad and Tobago forfeited due to a lack of funding. Curacao eliminated the Warriors at under-20 level in 2012 and Cooper’s men have a chance for revenge.

Only the group winners are assured of advancing to the next stage while the two best runner-ups from all five Caribbean qualifying groups will join them.

The Trinidad and Tobago squad is captained by DIRECTV W Connection midfielder Kareem Riley who is one of nine Connection players in the national youth team.

San Juan Jabloteh and St Ann’s Rangers are also very well represented with five and four players respectively within Cooper’s ranks while FC Santa Rosa and Point Fortin Civic contributed one pick each.

Connection might have easily had 10 players in the travelling squad. Cooper explained that teenaged attacker Isaiah Hudson was declared unavailable and there was the suggestion that the left-sided attacker was about to go on trial.

Photo: W Connection owner David John Williams (left) signs a sponsorship deal with DIRECTV marketing manager Tamara Ragoonath (centre).
Photo: W Connection owner David John Williams (left) signs a sponsorship deal with DIRECTV marketing manager Tamara Ragoonath (centre).

Connection president David John Williams confirmed that he asked for Hudson to be excused from the international tournament but declined to give a reason.

“We asked for Isaiah to be excused from this round of the tournament,” said Williams. “I would rather not say why right now. But he is not on trial or going on any trial.”

Trinidad and Tobago Under-17 squad:

Goalkeepers: Enrique Changiah (W Connection), Levi Fernandez (Point Fortin Civic);

Defenders: Isaiah Garcia, Kierron Mason, Shirwin Noel, Keston Julien (all W Connection), Matthaeus Granger, Tekay Hoyce, Travell Edwards (all St Ann’s Rangers), Kendell Charles (San Juan Jabloteh);

Midfielders: Kareem Riley, Nate Brooks, Shobal Celestine (all W Connection), John-Paul Rochford (FC Santa Rosa), Shakhun Hanley, Jesse Joseph (both San Juan Jabloteh), Shakeem Patrick (St Ann’s Rangers);

Forwards: Dereem Daniel, Jeankeon Alexander (both San Juan Jabloteh), Anthony Herbert (W Connection).

Technical staff:

Shawn Cooper (head coach), Christopher Gouveia (manager), Gilbert Bateau (trainer), Ian Dore (therapist), Devin Elcock (equipment manager).


CFU Group 2 Fixtures

(Beausejour Stadium, St Lucia)

August 20

Trinidad and Tobago vs Grenada, 6 pm;

St. Lucia vs Curacao, 8 pm;


August 22

Curacao vs Trinidad and Tobago, 6 pm;
St. Lucia vs Grenada, 8 pm;


August 24

Grenada vs Curacao, 6 pm;

St. Lucia vs Trinidad & Tobago, 8 pm.

About Lasana Liburd

Lasana Liburd
Lasana Liburd is the CEO and Editor at Wired868.com and a journalist with over 20 years experience at several Trinidad and Tobago and international publications including Play the Game, World Soccer, UK Guardian and the Trinidad Express.

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  1. Remember most of these boys were left stranded at Piarco unable to travel last year for a U15 Concacaf tournament in Cayman Islands due to absence of funding from TTFA and Ministry of Sport. This team is very talented, they are beginning to play better despite the absence of preparation due to funding. If funding is in place to keep the boys training/playing together over the next two years they will qualify for U20 World Cup.

    After viewing the game and the performance of U20’s in Jamaica its apparent that defensively we need to focus on coaching and training of goalkeepers. This is not blaming these young keepers but the TTFA, Ministry of Sports and all coaches in TnT have to work together to develop our keepers with specific training programs. Observing the games, the U17 and U20, our keepers defensively don’t instruct the back 4, the back 4 don’t instruct the midfield and so on. This is not a failure of the boys but we the adults have to invest in them to raise the level.

  2. I could have done without knowing that piece of history ! Thanks eh

  3. National associations scraping by while criminals feast… That is Anil Roberts’ legacy.

  4. Two years ago, Curacao eliminated us as U-20 level. And there is only one automatic qualifier. So I hope we qualify but we can’t get too complacent with that sort of preparation.

  5. Best of luck to the boys. But this is not what we must grow accustomed to for our national teams. Better than that.

  6. Just do your best boys we are proud of you all!!!

  7. all that money TT has, more so than all other nations in the caribbean and they can’t fund a youth team… terrible…

  8. It’s not not even $34m again…it’s $36m…

  9. They should have joined Life Sport.

  10. What’s next? Is this the example our young footballers have to encounter!! So when we see our youths stop playing we will know why as well.

  11. Life is so interesting. Would not have made sense to use the MoS funds to assist national teams in their attempts to being honour to our nation, instead of using said fund to promote and support ‘anti-crime programs’?? We already have youth focused and-crime programs in place, use those for that purpose. Instead our national teams are forever under-staffed, under clothed, under experienced and under equipped. Yet we do relatively well. $34m would have done well for all our national teams.

  12. The saga continues. We should advance from here though. Hope they get something for the next round.

  13. Why should they resign? who in this country does wrong at that level and resign….. it is almost expected that the men in power do REAL shit and everybody else pay…. It is the defacto management style in Trinidad…. so is really business as usual

  14. It is ridiculous for a country that has so much money… and Go Guaya!!!!

  15. It has gotten to the point where local club teams are now run more efficiently than the national team. You will never see the Guaya team in the Super League, for instance, without something as simple as monogrammed attire.
    But the young men have to make the most of this opportunity regardless. So I wish them well and support them in their efforts.
    And, as for the TTFA hierarchy, if you cannot give the teams what they need to succeed… Please resign.

  16. Good luck to you guys and remember that of times attitude determines altitude. Keep the red, white and black flying high.

  17. I wish them all the best. In the same breath, I fail to understand the reason we always under-support our sportsmen and women. So much money has been ill-managed over the last 20 plus years by the senior officials of the Ministry of Sport, the TTFF, and other T&T sporting organizations like the SporTT Company. Aren’t we tired of sending our athletes around the world ill-equipped?

  18. That’s par for course in a country that’s under financial ” peril ” like TnT . We have to service our serious debts first. That’s life sport!

  19. forget the authority God is with our country he not sleeping

  20. Best of luck to these young men (And when they do well, the “authorities” will want to be all up in their business.)

  21. All the best youth make country and family proud of you

  22. why do we keep doing this to ourselves….smh… oh well…. good luck…..