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Five T&T U-20s set for Europe; but Central braces for Levi tug-of-war

Trinidad and Tobago national under-20 footballers Levi Garcia, Kadeem Corbin, Neveal Hackshaw, Jesus Perez and Kishun Seecharan were awarded European entry visas yesterday and are expected to travel to the Netherlands within the coming week en route to trials with undisclosed clubs in Europe.

The parent clubs for 18-year-old Corbin, 19-year-old Hackshaw and 19-year-old Perez agreed verbally to the valuation of the players by Dutch agent Humphry Nijman while 18-year-old Seecharan, who is registered with Defence Force, will be allowed to move on without a transfer fee.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago winger Levi Garcia (right) bamboozles the Curaçao defence during a Caribbean Cup fixture. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago winger Levi Garcia (right) bamboozles the Curaçao defence during a Caribbean Cup fixture.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

But the football future of 16-year-old Garcia is less certain with Nijman and the teenager’s employer, Central FC, at loggerheads over a deal for the talented winger. Central has so far refused Nijman’s offer for the teenaged “Soca Warrior” while the agent, for now, is not prepared to make a new one as the fight seems destined for the courts.

Garcia, who is a Form Five student at Shiva Boys Hindu College, has never represented Central in a competitive match and only joined the club in March on a two-year deal. The national under-20 player supposedly indicated his intention to quit school and turn professional with the “Couva Sharks” in July.

However, Garcia’s sparkling performances at the Under-20 Caribbean Cup tournament and an approach from Nijman and his local assistant, Dion Sosa, during the competition, changed his flight path considerably.

Sosa and Nijman were responsible for moving Sheldon Bateau, Robert Primus and the now deceased Akeem Adams to Europe where they settled at top flight clubs in Belgium, Kazakhstan and Hungary respectively.

Sosa told Wired868 their plan for the five players.

“They are going to meet with their agent (Njiman) who is based in Amsterdam,” said Sosa. “From there, they will branch off to various clubs for three week trials. We will be looking for an academy for Levi because he is under age (to turn pro as a foreigner in Europe); but we are looking at first team football for the rest.

“We are opening a door for them now and their lives can change. It can be good for them, their families and Trinidad football; because the environment they will be exposed to and the teams they will be training with they can only get better.”

Photo: SWO member and Central FC operations director Kevin Harrison (right) presents a $12,000 cheque to Dion Sosa, the local manager for then ailing player Akeem Adams. (Courtesy Allan V. Crane/Wired868)
Photo: SWO member and Central FC operations director Kevin Harrison (right) presents a $12,000 replica cheque for Akeem Adams to his local manager, Dion Sosa. Adams died in December 2013 after failing to recover from a heart attack.
(Courtesy Allan V. Crane/Wired868)

However, Central FC managing director Brent Sancho, a 2006 World Cup player with Trinidad and Tobago, insists that the Sharks do not need help in developing their players or finding them foreign opportunities.

Sancho said that Central signed Yugoslav-born coach Zoran Vranes—to replace the departed Englishman Terry Fenwick—specifically because of his experience in working with youngsters. Vranes was head coach when the national under-20 team booked its place at the 2009 World Youth Cup, which was the last FIFA time that the two island republic qualified for a FIFA competition.

“One of the reasons we went for Vranes as our coach is because we saw we had good young talent coming through,” said Sancho, “and Vranes is renowned for not only developing young players but also playing them… But they are filling up the boy’s head with all kind of things.

“I have a trial lined up for Levi with Racing Genk (Belgium) and with Toronto (Canada). So it is not as if we are trying to hold him back… But the little boy doesn’t train with us anymore so obviously they turned his head and put his family against the club.”

Fellow Pro League clubs St Ann’s Rangers and North East Stars took a different view to Central with regards to Nijman’s offer.

Sancho claimed that Rangers accepted US$15,000 for Corbin, which was supposedly much less than the offer for Garcia. However, neither Rangers club chairman Fakoory nor Sosa confirmed that figure.

Fakoory told Wired868 that he did not want to stand in the way of his talented striker, who was named as the MVP of the Under-20 Caribbean Cup.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago under-20 striker Kadeem Corbin (right) prepares to fire past Haiti goalkeeper Steve Sanon in the 2014 U-20 Caribbean Cup final. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago under-20 striker Kadeem Corbin (right) prepares to fire past Haiti goalkeeper Steve Sanon in the 2014 U-20 Caribbean Cup final.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

“They talked to me and made me an offer,” said Fakoory. “And since the under-20 tournament, Kadeem hasn’t showed up at practice once. So what could I do?

“Yes, I came to an agreement to send him on a trial. I had no choice but to let him go for the betterment of the club and to give him an opportunity to further himself.”

Stars coach Angus Eve was reluctant to say much on his club’s deal with Nijman, which will see Hackshaw and Perez move to Europe for trials.

“I just want the boys to get an opportunity,” Eve told Wired868. “I had experience dealing with these agents before with (Sheldon) Bateau while I was at Jabloteh, so I knew what to expect.”

But Sancho insisted that Central would not budge and he accused Nijman of underhand tactics and a contradictory approach to FIFA’s current efforts to outlaw third party ownership.

Sancho said that he is happy for Nijman to take Garcia on trial and be paid for his work in negotiating personal terms. However, he is adamant that the matter of a transfer fee must only be discussed between the buying and selling clubs while he also insisted a sell-on clause would be inserted into any agreed deal.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago winger Levi Garcia (centre) steams past Cuba players Yendri Torres (right) and Roberto Peraza during the Under-20 Caribbean Cup. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago winger Levi Garcia (centre) steams past Cuba players Yendri Torres (right) and Roberto Peraza during the Under-20 Caribbean Cup.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

“I find it strange that the agents are trying to buy-out the player and I am not indulging in that kind of practice of selling a player to an agent,” said Sancho. “Their problem is that, whatever deal is happening, we want a sell-on clause just like there was for Kenwyne Jones and Khaleem Hyland and the agent said he is not doing it. They want everything for themselves.”

His stance was supported by DIRECTV W Connection president David John Williams, who pocketed well over $1 million when Kenwyne Jones moved from Southampton to Premiership club Sunderland due to a sell-on clause.

“If the player is under contract, why do you want to buy out the contract to move them?” asked Williams. “So the (Pro League) club doesn’t make any money? When they buy out the contract, they get a big signing-on bonus and they make the money or get their own clauses in the deal.”

But Sosa called Sancho’s demand ridiculous, particularly as Garcia never played a game for Central and spent less than three months training at the club

“Why should a (European) club pay, house, develop and take care of Levi and, three years down the line, be forced to give Central money for doing absolutely nothing?” asked Sosa. “That is unfair to the (new) club because they are taking all the risk… Why should (Central) get 10 percent for a player they never developed in the first place?

“We made them an offer that is way beyond the player’s market value. But Central’s demands were not reasonable and we have decided not to give into those demands.”

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago midfielder Kishun Seecharan (centre) holds off Suriname player Ervin Slagveer during the 2014 Under-20 Caribbean Cup. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago midfielder Kishun Seecharan (centre) holds off Suriname player Ervin Slagveer during the 2014 Under-20 Caribbean Cup.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

Sosa warned that Central could lose Garcia for nothing as the agents are set to challenge the validity of its contract with the player. Garcia’s elder brother, Daniel, accompanied the young man when he signed his professional contract with Central and not his parents.

In a previous interview with the TTFA Media, Garcia credited his brother, Daniel, for being a key motivator in his career

“He’s always there for me,” said Garcia. “If I have to go training or to a game he will get the taxi or rent a car for me to get there. He pushes me all the time to do better.”

But Sosa is certain that Daniel is no position to sign as his younger brother’s guardian.

“It is an agreement which was entered into without the consent of his parent and that by itself is illegal,” said Sosa. “No minor anywhere in the free world can enter into a contract without the written consent of his parent; and neither his mother nor his father’s names are on the contract.

“They took Daniel and had him sign as a legal guardian when both (Levi’s) parents are alive. And then they want to turn around and play wrong and strong.”

Garcia’s mother, Judith Garcia, confirmed that she did not sign an agreement with Central.

“My big son, Daniel, signed it,” she said. “I do not want to get into any confusion… But I spoke to Brent Sancho and I told him that I want Levi to go to Europe.”

Photo: Central FC attacker Nathaniel Garcia (left) runs at St Ann's Rangers defenders Trevin Latapy (centre) and Jelani Peters. Nathaniel is also an older brother of Levi Garcia. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: Central FC attacker Nathaniel Garcia (left) runs at St Ann’s Rangers defenders Trevin Latapy (centre) and Jelani Peters.
Nathaniel is also an older brother of Levi Garcia.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

Central director of operations, Kevin Harrison, acknowledged that Garcia’s parents did not sign their son’s contract but explained why he felt the Sharks still had a claim on the boy’s future.

“(Levi) brought an adult to meet us who wasn’t a minor and who understood everything (about the contract),” said Harrison. “His parents sat in our office several times after that and they never said they didn’t want him to play with us. So if they are trying to say they didn’t give us permission they would be lying.

“In fact, everything was great until Humphrey showed up… I have already told (the parents) that no matter what he promises you, Levi isn’t going anywhere until we make an arrangement with that (buying) club.”

But Sosa believes Central’s attitude can only harm the player and is ultimately counter-productive.

“Between his parents and ourselves, we are trying to sort it out in a cordial manner,” he said. “And, if not, we will do what we have to. Levi does not want to play with Central.

“These boys—all five of them—are going to a first class, professional environment for the first time, which can only help their development.”

Garcia’s present teammates at Shiva would be happy to win the Secondary Schools Football League (SSL) Premier title while his classmates are preparing themselves for CXC examinations next May.

Photo: Presentation College (San Fernando) defender Kori Cupid (right) tries to keep up with Shiva Boys attacker Levi Garcia. Garcia chose to play for Shiva instead of Central this season. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: Presentation College (San Fernando) defender Kori Cupid (right) tries to keep up with Shiva Boys attacker Levi Garcia.
Garcia chose to play for Shiva instead of Central this season.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

Meanwhile, Garcia is enduring a tumultuous start to his life as a professional sportsman. It is not the sort of tug of war that most footballers are exposed to at the age of 16.

Almost certainly, Garcia’s impasse with Central has already cost him the chance of an international senior debut during next week’s Caribbean Cup qualifiers as head coach Stephen Hart was unimpressed by his decision to represent Shiva in the SSFL rather than Central in the Pro League.

Garcia will hope to make up for that in Europe; providing that Sancho and Nijman come to an agreement.

About Lasana Liburd

Lasana Liburd
Lasana Liburd is the managing director and chief 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. I think you are correct Brian but the lawyers should weigh in here.

  2. I get the feeling Levi Garcia, as a minor, did not have a parent or legal guardian actually sign his Central FC contract. Typically, an older brother is only a legal guardian if he was deemed so by the court system. Saying he signed with his parent’s “tacit” approval and took monies, boots, etc really speaks to any young, and in some cases unscrupulous, people. To be fair, Central FC may be owed a refund of all monies paid to Levi Garcia, if he goes to another professional club, or never returns to play, but there are lessons to be learned here on all sides of this issue.

  3. Gordon, these are global rules. Are you saying that T&T should ignore them? As a club, we have to operate within these rules. It appears that certain agents don’t feel the same way. I see no problem with sending players overseas, but I do think that 16 is too young. Attending a university may be a little safer at that age, but even then, I’d rather the youth wait until 18. The reason Trini players struggle is because of the strict EU work permit situation which were not as tough back in 2006.

  4. Dwight Yorke went to England at 18. And there were was no professional football for him in Trinidad then. It isn’t the end of the world if he has to wait two years.
    The rule is there to protect him.
    Of course, I also wait to see if the agents have a way to get this move to fall within FIFA law.

  5. I don’t see the comparison with the Plaza and Rundell situation either Gordo.

  6. Completely missing the point Gordon Pierre. The rules are there to prevent children from being exploited and traded like a commodity. As I indicated in the other thread, for every Messi, hundreds of children fall by the wayside.

  7. Had a chance to get some video footage of Dexter Francis and Levi’s mother today before Shiva’s game against St.Benedicts…putting it together.

  8. A wonder central was not so concerned about rundell winchester and willis plaza! Just saying

  9. Otherwise our best players will in second and third level leagues in europe,usa and asia

  10. We need our players to get out at a young age so they can be developed and at least get a chance to play at d highest level!!

  11. More trini legal quote fifa laws when convenient!!! All this proves is that it is vitually impossible for trini player to play at a high level in europe!! It is these rules y there is no trinis playing d best leagues in europe

  12. These local clubs need to understand that pro league football will not bring out the best in our players

    • Yes, but people need to understand that the Pro League clubs invest in their players and should not allow themselves to be bullied by agents or foreign clubs for players. They should demand that they’re paid a fair amount for players.

  13. I hope and trust that everyone concerned do not take advantage of this youth,he is only 16 years old.

  14. Once he never got salary he is free to depart

  15. I will publish that FIFA article Kevin Harrison

  16. c) The player lives no further than 50km from a national border
    and the club with which the player wishes to be registered in the
    neighbouring association is also within 50km of that border. The
    maximum distance between the player’s domicile and the club’s
    headquarters shall be 100km. In such cases, the player must
    continue to live at home and the two associations concerned must
    give their explicit consent.

  17. FIFA Article 19 International transfers of players are only permitted if the player is over the age of 18.
    The following three exceptions to this rule apply:
    a) The player’s parents move to the country in which the new club is
    located for reasons not linked to football;
    b) The transfer takes place within the territory of the European
    Union (EU) or European Economic Area (EEA) and the player
    is aged between 16 and 18. In this case, the new club must fulfil
    the following minimum obligations:

  18. Barcelona is facing a transfer ban because of its illegal practice of recruiting children outside of Spain. They are NOT an example to be followed.

    I thought FIFA has rules governing the signing of under-age players. Other than the third party ownership, am I missing something here? I fully agree with Kevin’s points btw.

  19. Perfect opportunity for legislation and policies to be formed. Pele’s Law, Bosman’s law came about due to certain scenarios. We the stakeholders need to come together on this.

  20. same ting Rangers doing 2 me dont want me 2 go North East bullshit!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  21. Gordon Pierre, I understand the point you’re trying to make, but you are speaking out of context. The player cannot be signed without consent from parents or guardian. This consent was given in the form of the family’s selected representative. If Central F.C. sold the player, Siparia Spurs would have received a percentage under FIFA’s player passport plan. If the agent “owns” the player, only the agent will profit from the sale. You pointed out that the player has not played a game for Central and we haven’t arranged a trial overseas. The player would have played in Central’s first game of the season, but he was with the Under 20’s. He failed to report to training when leaving the U20’s. Had he done so, he would have played in Central’s next game. Central has several interested clubs who he could have gone to on trial. The player happily took his salary since March, the signing on bonus and a $1,000 pair of boots. Now, Gordon, who protects the clubs and players from unscrupulous, unlicensed agents who have never spent any time or money coaching the player, yet will take much needed money out of T&T football. Money that will be used in part to develop our next generation. And one more question for you. While Central F.C. spend time amd money raising awareness about women’s cancer, rape and domestic abuse, distribute food hampers to the needy, provide free coaching schools, and are the only club to provide medical screenings and insurance for players and purchase a defibrillator , what has Mr Sosa given back? We are not the wicked witch here. Central operate as does every other club in the world. Only one or two agents operate as 3rd party owners, and FIFA will outlaw them by 2018. So, in your words, “Lets be real about what this whole issue is about please!!”

  22. Mind u without d player playing a game or d pro club organising a trial!! Lets be real about what this whole issue is about please!!

  23. Who protection d player from d pro club that sign them without d parent signature? And who protect d community teams from d pro team that sends a transfer form to sign for free but less than six months later want compensation and sell on clauses! Smh

  24. At this moment, Levi is a contracted player of Central F.C. He would not be a free agent as he is attached to a club. May I point out that this system of contracting young players with a signature of a parent or guardian has worked perfectly well for some years. However, there has been several instances where contracted players have breached their contracts and returned to school football. We have a 17 year old player who is repeating his 3rd form to play football. He repeated it last year as well! Do not be misled, the majority of these players do not return to school football for educational reasons and will leave school once Intercol ends and return to professional football. The situation with Levi is different. Yes, he has breached his contract to play school football, but his agent is now challenging the legitimacy of the contract for his own financial benefit. That’s why the issue is no longer about Levi, it’s about the protection of clubs regarding contracted players.

  25. By 18, I had played for two schools and six different club teams. And it is as if I was such a sought out player.
    I bet Corbin can barely count the number of teams he represented. So that compensation thing will always be ticklish.
    Right Gordon Pierre?

  26. Trevor Bridglalsingh that is a very good point. I think Kevin Harrison mentioned that many amateur teams don’t keep proper records of its players so as to apply for compensation.
    Don’t know myself.
    It would be interesting to know if schools can apply. That seems fair in some cases.

  27. Can anyone clarify ? Dion Sosa enlighten me

  28. Secondly, if according to the non Central FC parties, that the “pro contract” has been voided in some fashion, is he a free agent ? Or a youth player of Central FC ?

  29. Policies. Where are the policies to resolve issues like this and of similar ilk ? Do what model does Trinidad follow ? The legitimacy of Garcia’s contract is what’s causing the issue here.

  30. I don’t see why court is necessary. Maybe I am naive. From all accounts it sounds as though he is a central player. If he did sign he is obligated to them. It’s their decision to sell or keep him, am I wrong? He and his family made this decision 6 months ago. I am not taking sides either just seems from reading the article this is the case? This should be a lesson learnt by that family. When you sign anything you have to abide by the contract. They can’t go to Europe and sign something and a bigger club comes after him and expect to find loopholes in the process to get out of it. That’s how it sounds like right now. They were all content and happy to sign a contract with central and now that they are seeing a bigger opportunity, they are saying the parents didn’t sign the paperwork and he is only 16. I keep hearing these footballer dropping out of school and not going to classes etc in Trinidad to pursue a career in football. This works overseas because they are in academies getting educated on how to become a pro. Not just the football aspects. A lot of these decisions I read about seems to be uneducated decisions

  31. I am not taking sides just saying before we march to court let us view d whole matter clearly

  32. The team in Argentina allowed his progress though and they were the home pro team which would be Central in this case!

  33. Anthony Sherwood, while it’s never nice to be examined publicly in this way, this issue is of such importance that we will have to take our licks if a situation is to be improved. All Pro League contracts expressly forbid players to represent other teams, including school teams, without permission. Our only options are to fine players or terminate their contract, which in this case, is obviously attractive to certain people. Gordon Pierre, remember, Central were not looking to sell the player at this stage. His future development was our concern, not only to benefit Central on the field, not only to benefit the national team, but also because both Levi and Central could get a better deal after a year of professional football. The situation is far different from Dwight’s days as the opportunities are fewer with the current EU work permit situation. I believe Messi had been tracked by Barca for a while before he joined them. But there is no way that Barca would have allowed an agent to take Messi away from them 6 months after he joined them!

  34. All parties should come together and work out what is best for d lad!! Kevin brought some good points but messi and Yorke left home at young ages to ply their trade! In the end the youngster’s future should be everyone’s main focus.

  35. The more i read and hear the more i see trini legal behaviour quote fifa rules when convenient and bush laws when convenient!! His legal guardian or parent can appoint someone in WRITING to represent them otherwise d trini legal acrobatics is a waste of time

  36. Kevin I think it’s good that you’re getting ur position out in the public domain, hopefully there’s going to be a positive resolution to the matter. This kid is talented for sure, by the way, I’ve seen him play twice already for Shiva, surely this isn’t stipulated in his contract?

  37. Kester Lendor, Daniel was the family’s selected representative. That should be enough! As I mentioned before, nobody from the family complained then or in the 6 months since he signed. We have met with the agent, and explained that we would deal with any club who Levi wanted to join. We have met with Levi’s parents who are very nice people and who want the best for their son. We advised them to talk to several agents to decide which one would be best to represent their son. We also added that we felt that a permanent move overseas would be wrong for Levi at this point, but that we had spoken with several clubs with regards to future moves. The only poaching, if any, is being carried out by the agents. If Levi is a free agent, he can join another club, if not, he must wait for the transfer window. Obviously, the agents don’t want to wait!

  38. Kev, the article said he was accompanied by his brother for the signing and in my previous post I said if his brother is his court appointed legal guardian then whatever he signed is valid. From the article, there is no indication that this was the case and it appears that his momma is of sound body & mind so I’m not sure why she couldn’t avail herself to such an important development in the kid’s life. Whichever way this goes, I strongly suggest that all parties meet privately legal reps included to see if there’s a win win solution to this situation. Because on the surface and from the posts it appears as if CFC stalked and poached the teenager, used his brother (who’s employed with CFC) dangle some cash in their faces to get him to sign a contract, then 4 months later try sell him off for a profit. So Tony is correct it could be PR nightmare.

  39. Anthony Sherwood, I agree, but this is bigger than just one player or one club. Contracts need to be respected or professional football will become destabilized. We adhere to FIFA rules and guidelines which are accepted globally. Our view was that Levi needs a year of professional football with no additional stresses such as being homesick, change of diet, different climates and language etc. We said this to his parents. Sending a young boy overseas is potentially hazardous. Even if he has a return ticket, that ticket can be cancelled at any time leaving the player stranded. That’s why I believe that any such move should be arranged by the club. As for compensation, that can only come into effect if a club receives a transfer fee for a player. But saying that, Central has already donated footballs to Siparia Spurs and to other clubs where players have moved from. We also involved some of the Tobago clubs in the Walsall visit as we obtained several players from them.

  40. This is some interesting reading

  41. Kevin, this could be a PR nightmare potentially if not handled properly…

  42. Just to clarify, a 16 year old can sign a contract as long as a parent or guardian also signs, which was the case with Levi. FIFA has a “player passport” system which documents the player’s development. When a club receives a transfer fee, a percentage based on a specific formula is owed to the developmental clubs. At this point, Central F.C. have not received $1 in transfer fees, so how we can be accused of not sharing anything with clubs, I don’t know.

  43. Lasana what is interesting is that the Clubs claim so much credit and always want a piece of the pie but we in the Schools and the SSFL get no credit. Do the clubs ever offer to assist Schools in the area? And I say Schools not players, or do they just wait to see talent then act?
    I spoke to a club official about an academy, sent my resume but no reaction not even a “don’t call us we will call you.” Just interested in the PR and the PROFIT. I see players join clubs as youth players and move to the adult ranks with the same technical problems they started with so they have not developed in the club in football.

  44. Smh., when would these folks get ah clue., we spoke about this 5yrs ago., no grass roots, no plan, no $$$.

  45. This will be a test case for years to come I think.