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Fundraiser for Europe-bound trialists; 18 T&T players try their luck

Former 2009 Under-20 World Cup players Leston Paul, Jean-Luc Rochford, Qian Grosvenor and Curtis Gonzales are among 18 Trinidad and Tobago players who will try to land professional deals in Europe later this month, through an initiative by local scout Dion Sosa.

Photo: Central FC midfielder and captain Leston Paul (right) runs at North East Stars players Keryn Navarro (left) and Taryk Sampson during the 2014 First Citizens Cup final. Paul is a free agent now. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: Central FC midfielder and captain Leston Paul (right) runs at North East Stars players Keryn Navarro (left) and Taryk Sampson during the 2014 First Citizens Cup final.
Paul is a free agent now.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

The players are due to leave for Turkey on July 16 where they will form a team that plays a series of exhibition matches against various European clubs, who are in pre-season.

Players who catch the eye will hopefully be signed or invited to further trials by watching scouts.

The full list of players includes: Paul, Rochford, Gonzales, Grosvenor, Dwight Quintero, Dario Holmes, Brent Sam, Raheem Belgrave, Jelani Peters, Weslie John, Micah Lewis, Duane Muckette, Keane McIvor, Xavier Rajpaul, Phillip Borde, Jamel Farell, Leon Whyle and Keon Russell.

Quintero, Holmes and Rajpaul are all members of Trinidad and Tobago’s 2015 Pan American squad, which is in action against Uruguay, Paraguay and Mexico on July 13, July 17 and July 21 in Toronto.

Sosa said the players will leave Toronto immediately after their last group match and head for Turkey.

Muckette, Rajpaul and McIvor were with the National Under-23 Team in Puerto Rico last month when they were eliminated from the 2016 Olympic qualifying series by St Vincent and the Grenadines.

Photo: North East Stars midfielder Duane Muckette (centre) in action against W Connection in the 2015 TTFA FA Trophy final. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: North East Stars midfielder Duane Muckette (centre) in action against W Connection in the 2015 TTFA FA Trophy final.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

Lewis and John are also former national youth team players while Whyle represented St Anthony’s College in the SSFL Premier Division last season.

There will hold a fundraiser for Sosa’s squad at the Prisons recreation ground in Arouca on Sunday July 5, which comprises of an exhibition match between his players and a Prisons XI from 4 pm to 5.45 pm followed by an after-party from 6 pm to midnight.

Tickets cost $100 and are valid for both events.

Sosa explained that the trip would cost roughly TT$23,000 per player and the money generated by the fundraiser will help make up for the shortfall. It is, he said, an unmissable opportunity for the players to put themselves on the European market.

“Many clubs don’t want to see highlight videos anymore, they want to see you play live,” said Sosa, who counts Kazakhstan-based defender Robert Primus and late Hungary-based left back Akeem Adams as former clients. “Clubs from places like Denmark and Sweden don’t come to Trinidad to scout… There are about 200 teams in Turkey right now playing games (in their pre-season).

“This is the chance they get to be seen.”

Photo: Defence Force midfielder Curtis Gonzales (centre) beats Central FC's stand-in captain Sean De Silva during 2014/15 Pro League action. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: Defence Force midfielder Curtis Gonzales (centre) beats Central FC’s stand-in captain Sean De Silva during 2014/15 Pro League action.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

Sosa, who is not a registered FIFA agent, usually operates in tandem with licensed Dutch agent Humphry Nijman but said he is spearheading this initiative on his own.

The Turkey trials mirrors a similar excursion, two years ago, done by Caledonia AIA, which led to overseas deals for Trinidad and Tobago internationals Ataulla Guerra and Radanfah Abu Bakr and Guyana players Walter Moore and Trayon Bobb.

Caledonia’s venture was done in conjunction with Finland-based agency, Goal Management Group, and spearheaded by FIFA agent Mark Saranlinna.

Former Holland 1974 World Cup player Theo de Jong, who assisted Dutch coach Leo Bennhakker when the “Soca Warriors” qualified for the 2006 World Cup, prepared and coached the Caledonia contingent during their time Turkey.

Sosa will take on the responsibility of coaching the current crop of players himself.

“I am familiar with the players and I will control things there,” said Sosa. “I have a guy there who will prepare them fitness-wise and I will be selecting the teams and making the changes.”

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago striker Kadeem Corbin celebrates his strike against Aruba in the 2015 CONCACAF Under-20 Championships in Jamaica. He was booked for the gesture by Bahamian official Randolph Harris. (Courtesy CONCACAF)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago striker Kadeem Corbin celebrates his strike against Aruba in the 2015 CONCACAF Under-20 Championships in Jamaica.
He was booked for the gesture by Bahamian official Randolph Harris.
(Courtesy CONCACAF)

Two players who delayed their own potential overseas careers are National Senior Team attacker Kadeem Corbin and Under-23 midfielder Neveal Hackshaw. Both opted to skip trials with unspecified Belgium clubs to represent their country at the July Gold Cup and Pan Am Games respectively.

“I was supposed to carry Hackshaw and Corbin but they chose to go to the Gold Cup and Pan Am,” said Sosa. “Hackshaw’s trial was supposed to start on Monday. The Belgium clubs cannot afford to wait because July 29 is their opening game for next season. But they chose to go (to international tournaments) instead…

“I am optimistic that between five to seven guys can be signed (from this group), maybe more. The other guys who don’t get through can use it as an experience to build on and try again.”

Most of the players selected are free agents, although their previous clubs will still probably be owed developmental fees if they are hired by European teams.

Sosa said some Pro League clubs were happy to support his venture.

Photo: San Jan Jabloteh striker Brent Sam (right) prepares to drive the ball past Club Sando defender Andre Phillip in the 2015 TTFA FA Trophy quarterfinals. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: San Jan Jabloteh striker Brent Sam (right) prepares to drive the ball past Club Sando defender Andre Phillip in the 2015 TTFA FA Trophy quarterfinals.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

“Jabloteh paid for Sam and Rangers paid for Jelani,” he said. “They were the only two clubs who were willing to help players.”

Sosa’s work in the transfer market has not been without controversy. Last year, Nijman and Sosa clashed with Pro League champions, Central FC, over the services of then 16-year-old attacker Levi Garcia.

In the end, the matter was was resolved after the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) had mediator, Tyrone Marcus, talk to both parties.

At present, Garcia is at Eredivisie club, AZ Alkmaar, where he is due to sign a professional this November on his 18th birthday.

Sosa’s 18 Europe-bound players would be thrilled to follow Garcia’s footsteps.

Photo: Point Fortin Civic defender Weslie John (right) keeps the ball from Police FC player Elijah Belgrave. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: Point Fortin Civic defender Weslie John (right) keeps the ball from Police FC player Elijah Belgrave.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

Potential trialists: Raheem Belgrave, Curtis Gonzales, Dario Holmes, Weslie John, Jelani Peters, Keon Russell, Jamel Farell, Leon Whyle, Leston Paul, Jean-Luc Rochford, Duane Muckette, Keane McIvor, Xavier Rajpaul, Micah Lewis, Qian Grosvenor, Phillip Borde, Dwight Quintero and Brent Sam.

(July 5 Fundraiser)

Exhibition match from 4 pm to 5.45 pm followed by after-party from 6 pm to midnight at Prisons recreation ground, Arouca. Tickets are $100.

AboutLasana 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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21 comments

  1. Well it seems that some players are using their wisdom instead of continuing to take all that crap from the corrupted TTFA . Them really good yes.

  2. Well duane was committed 2 being a professional so that cfu tournament was not important for him that’s why he initially said no the training conditioning and level of competition with cosmos was way better than that at cfu level

  3. I don’t mean skipping pan am. I mean he initially was unavailable for Olympic Games in Puerto Rico because of pdl football. I find that odd.

  4. Lasana pan am games is a waste of time I don’t know why these players running down this madness they seeing that the u23 in a mess after all that crap in puerto rico and Jamaica last year why would anyone subject themselves to that utter madness is beyond me duane was always going turkey with us

  5. So Muckette was going to skip the Olympic qualifiers to play PDL football? I think I might have to classify that under TMI yes…

  6. No muckette wants 2 play in europe

  7. OK. I saw that he was playing with the Cosmos B team. I thought maybe he was aiming to get on the first squad.

  8. He was not on trial he was playing pdl football with them

  9. So does this mean that Muckette’s trial with New York Cosmos is over?

  10. What is sad though is corporate tnt is never willing 2 help support ventures like this but rather pumps millions into parties and nonsense that have no long term or positive effects on youths

  11. Big up 2 Jabloteh and Rangers who believed in their players 2 give them this chance

  12. All kudos to Dion, all the best to the trialists….

  13. Well thank the Lord you are really helping them to fulfill their dreams yes because with that bootleg pro league in our sweet country their football careers would have really died a slow death. Them really good yes.

  14. A lot of these guys have been asking for an opportunity for yrs now and I am happy 2 be able 2 give them this opportunity cause it will benefit not only them and their families but Tnt football also

  15. just go and enjoy and do it…all the best

  16. Well done Dion Sosa keep up the great work good luck to the guys

  17. Best wishes to all our players keep our flag flying very high and well done Dion Sosa more blessings on the way.

  18. This is really positive….thumbs up to Dion hope the guys make full use of this opportunity.