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Hart feelings: Dribblers wanted, what the Warriors miss and the new Bert Neptune

“The genuine quality to pick up the ball and run at defenders and penetrate or draw attention,” Trinidad and Tobago National Senior Team coach Stephen Hart told Wired868, “and then be able to dish the ball off to players is now absent in Trinidad and Tobago football. When you go to the Pro League, who really excites you when they get the ball?

“Of course players can still shake and have quick feet. They can elude somebody. But they don’t destroy and I think it is a disappearing quality.”

“Soca Warriors” coach Stephen Hart spoke to Wired868 about the qualities he wants to bring to the National Team, the depth of his player pool and the strengths and weaknesses of the Pro League. And why he enjoys watching Central FC attacker Kadeem Corbin and the Shivu Boys Hindu College player of Tyrel “Pappy” Emmanuel and Quinn Rodney.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago National Senior Team coach Stephen Hart (left) enjoys a light moment with assistant coach Derek King before kick off against Nicaragua on13 October 2015 in Port of Spain. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago National Senior Team coach Stephen Hart (left) enjoys a light moment with assistant coach Derek King before kick off against Nicaragua on13 October 2015 in Port of Spain.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

Wired868: What can Trinidad and Tobago football fans look forward to in 2016? And how costly was our 2016 Copa America Centenario play off defeat to Haiti?

Stephen Hart: Not getting to the Copa America was not only a disappointment, it was an opportunity lost to develop against some of the better teams in world football at the moment.

But we have to look forward. We (had) the first opportunity to have an all-local camp—a short camp albeit—and a game in Grenada. Now, we have two games against St Vincent (and the Grenadines), which to me is the ultimate priority at the moment.

Once that is completed, we will look at (our schedule for the rest of the year).

We have already secured a game against Uruguay, which is one of the top five or six teams in world football on their last four years of performance. And we are trying to secure a second game.

We originally thought we would play Chile but they want to play on the same date as Uruguay. And it is understandable because they want to peak at the right time for the tournament. So we are working on a second game in that time period.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago defender Radanfah Abu Bakr (centre) walks away while Haiti players celebrate their 1-0 win in the 2016 Copa America play off contest at the Rommel Fernandez Stadium, Panama City on 8 January 2016. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/CA-images/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago defender Radanfah Abu Bakr (centre) walks away while Haiti players celebrate their 1-0 win in the 2016 Copa America play off contest at the Rommel Fernandez Stadium, Panama City on 8 January 2016.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/CA-images/Wired868)

Wired868: What is the difference in facing a team like Argentina or Uruguay in a friendly and in a tournament?

Hart: Well, I think the thing about the friendly game against Argentina (is that) it was their last game before they went to the World Cup. So obviously the game was a little more competitive than a regular friendly international, simply because players were playing for their selection. And players were playing also to be on the starting eleven.

I think it is going to be the same thing against Uruguay and if we get another game (against a South American nation) so close to the tournament. It will be their last game and that’s a lot different than if we were playing them last December or something like that.

So it does make a difference to them at that stage.

Photo: Argentina captain and superstar Lionel Messi (centre) dribbles between Trinidad and Tobago players Lester Peltier (far left), Andre Boucaud (far right) and Carlyle Mitchell during an international friendly in Buenos Aires on 4 June 2014. Argentina won 3-0. (Copyright AFP 2014/Daniel Garcia)
Photo: Argentina captain and superstar Lionel Messi (centre) dribbles between Trinidad and Tobago players Lester Peltier (far left), Andre Boucaud (far right) and Carlyle Mitchell during an international friendly in Buenos Aires on 4 June 2014.
Argentina won 3-0.
(Copyright AFP 2014/Daniel Garcia)

Wired868: We have had a couple of injuries recently, are you satisfied with the depth of our player pool?

Hart: It’s the nature of football really (as far as injuries go). Contrary to popular belief, Trinidad and Tobago’s player pool is very small at the moment while we sort of wait for the maturity of some of the Under-20s to come up and to get themselves playing on a consistent basis. Not many of them are playing on a consistent basis.

The pool in general is a small pool. (Our talented young players from the National Under-23 and National Under-20 Teams) need more playing time and probably a couple of international friendlies to understand how to approach a camp environment and to observe them playing at a higher level.

Photo: W Connection winger and former Trinidad and Tobago National Under-20 player Aikim Andrews (centre) tries to find way past a gang of Santos Laguna players during 2015/16 CONCACAF Champions League action at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: W Connection winger and former Trinidad and Tobago National Under-20 player Aikim Andrews (centre) tries to find way past a gang of Santos Laguna players during 2015/16 CONCACAF Champions League action at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

Wired868: What do you look out for when you go to Pro League games?

Hart: When you’re building a team, you have to look at it positionally. You can’t just pick players because they are having a good season or half a season or a couple of good games.

If in the position you are looking for, a player shows consistency or qualities. Or there is a player who can bring something completely different to the team that you can use tactically, of course you look for that player.

But, in building a team, you look for what you need  positionally. You need two players per position roughly. (And) you need some sort of flexibility in terms of the thinking of the player, etcetera.

Photo: W Connection attacker Jomal Williams (right) drives past Central FC defender Kaydion Gabriel during the 2015 First Citizens Cup final in Couva. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: W Connection attacker Jomal Williams (right) drives past Central FC defender Kaydion Gabriel during the 2015 First Citizens Cup final in Couva.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

Wired868: You have complained about the fitness levels of Pro League players before? How do you gauge players’ individual fitness when a game is slow?

Hart: I can’t. I have seen a couple games in the Pro League and 90 percent of the games start off well; tactically, shape-wise, pressing and so on. Everything is beautiful.

But by the 40th minute, you already see a breakdown in shape and organisation and recovery and things like that. If one or two players are not physically capable, the whole team starts to break down. And even at an international level.

You saw in the US game for example, they were able to push in with a little more strength and vitality in the second half of the second half. And only in the last 10 or 15 minutes, we caught ourselves with the changes and started to push them back again.

I think that is the difference in international football. It is those that can mentally endure when things are past your comfort zone.

Photo: United States forward Jozy Altidore (right) runs at the Trinidad and Tobago defence during 2018 World Cup qualifying action at the Hasely Crawford Stadium. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: United States forward Jozy Altidore (right) runs at the Trinidad and Tobago defence during 2018 World Cup qualifying action at the Hasely Crawford Stadium.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

Wired868: What qualities are you looking to add to your squad right now?

Hart: We need a couple box to box midfielders. It will be very good if they have good shooting ability from outside the penalty area. Because I’m concerned with the amount of shots statistically from my team.

And I think right now in Trinidad and Tobago football, there is an absence of wide players who can pick up and destroy and penetrate and create opportunities from wide positions. So you are always looking for that.

And I love to play with full backs who can come forward. And full backs are far and few between in the league.

And I am talking about genuine fullbacks. No disrespect but some of them can defend and they do okay. But there are very few that have the capacity to get up and down the field.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago winger Joevin Jones (centre) terrorises United States players DeAndre Yedlin (right) and Michael Orozco during Russia 2018 World Cup qualifying action at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain. (Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago winger Joevin Jones (centre) terrorises United States players DeAndre Yedlin (right) and Michael Orozco during Russia 2018 World Cup qualifying action at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain.
(Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)

Wired868: So you are finding it harder to find dribblers? Is it a crisis in the local game now?

Hart: The genuine quality to pick up the ball and run at defenders and penetrate or draw attention and then be able to dish the ball off to players is now absent in Trinidad and Tobago football.

When you go to the Pro League, who really excites you when they get the ball?

Of course players can still shake and have quick feet. They can elude somebody but they don’t destroy and I think it is a disappearing quality. Even when I watch a lot of (SSFL) games, there is not a lot of it. I think is something we need to address in our player development model.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago playmaker Russell Latapy (centre) shows off his dribbling ability for Portuguese club Boavista against Italy's Inter Milan in European competition. His victims here are former England captain Paul Ince (left) and France World Cup winner Youri Djorkaeff.
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago playmaker Russell Latapy (centre) shows off his dribbling ability for Portuguese club Boavista against Italy’s Inter Milan in European competition.
His victims here are former England captain Paul Ince (left) and France World Cup winner Youri Djorkaeff.

Wired868: How would we address that?

Hart: I think there has been a lot of emphasis on faking and shaking and less emphasis on dribbling as a penetrative action (and) attacking the space behind the defender.

(I am talking about) not just off-balancing the defender but going past; and now you are one player up because they are one player down. And now the second defender has to make a decision. Does he stay marking somebody or does he come to help cover the space you are attacking?

I think that kind of destructive dribbling is something that we need to encourage. When a player has that quality at a very young age, stop saying to them ‘pass the ball’.

You can teach them to pass the ball later. You can teach them to combine later. But if you don’t (nurture penetrative players then) you have to break teams down with passing, very intricate passing. And that is extremely, extremely difficult. Especially on our pitches.

Photo: Shiva Boys Hindu College winger Quinn Rodney (left) tries to escape from a Carapichaima East Secondary defender during a 2015 SSFL contest. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: Shiva Boys Hindu College winger Quinn Rodney (left) tries to escape from a Carapichaima East Secondary defender during a 2015 SSFL contest.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

Wired868: I know you won’t want to give examples from the Pro League? But what about from the SSFL? Does Shiva Boys’ Quinn Rodney fit that role as a destructive dribbler?
Hart: Yes. Definitely. And I think he should be encouraged. And even the midfielder, “Pappy” (Tyrel Emmanuel). He should be encouraged when he shakes his man to attack that space in the midfield. Because getting between the lines is a very modern part of football.

It is not good enough to just shake your man and then next thing you know the man is back on top of you. Then you haven’t really done anything.

So you have to make defenders commit and make lines commit and then your players run off of that and you can be creative from the midfield. So it is not only about (dribbling) out wide. It is about from the midfield too.

So if I give you a modern example, you look at (Barcelona midfielder Andres) Iniesta and how he makes it happen. Even (Santi) Carzola with Arsenal. They get behind the midfield line and force the backline to make decisions.

Photo: Spain midfield star and World Cup, Euro Cup and Champions League winner Andrés Iniesta (centre) bewitches half the Croatian team during the Euro 2012 competition. Iniesta's first major tournament was at the Trinidad and Tobago 2001 Under-17 World Cup where he played at the Mannie Ramjohn Stadium.
Photo: Spain midfield star and World Cup, Euro Cup and Champions League winner Andrés Iniesta (centre) bewitches half the Croatian team during the Euro 2012 competition.
Iniesta’s first major tournament was at the Trinidad and Tobago 2001 Under-17 World Cup where he played at the Mannie Ramjohn Stadium.

Wired868: Are there other qualities we are missing now?

Hart: I think we used to have a lot of strikers like (Jerren) Nixon and Stern (John) who were really good in the box. Nixon could also come (at you) from outside the box.

We are not really producing the strikers I would like, who are aerially strong and two footed. We are limited at the moment.

But we are a small country and top player are always going to be like waves in an ocean rather than a river.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago's record goal scorer Stern John (left) controls the ball under pressure from England's John Terry at the 2006 World Cup. (Copyright AFP 2015)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago’s record goal scorer Stern John (left) controls the ball under pressure from England’s John Terry at the 2006 World Cup.
(Copyright AFP 2015)

Wired868: So it is just cycle and not that we are doing something wrong in player development?

Hart: At the end of the day, if you have a lot of football at youth level, the cream will rise to the top. That is what the big countries have. They have a lot of football and there is a lot of competition. Competition is what breeds excellence.

So when you have a lot of competition at the youth level, you will find that you would probably raise those kinds of players. So, yes, I would put it down to player development too. Maybe 50/50.

But right now I am racking my brain thinking who is coming through as a striker that can put fear into people.

I think Corbin has tremendous talent. But he needs guidance and he needs to be playing on a consistent basis. But certainly he has a good energy level and he gets into good positions and he can score goals. He has proven that.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago striker Kadeem Corbin (left) eludes Suriname defender Nigel Zandveld during an 2014 Under-20 Caribbean Cup fixture. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago striker Kadeem Corbin (left) eludes Suriname defender Nigel Zandveld during an 2014 Under-20 Caribbean Cup fixture.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

He reminds me a lot of Bert Neptune and he wouldn’t know how big a compliment that is. But I fear for him that, like so many other players, he might not realise the potential he really has.

 

Editor’s Note: Click HERE for Part Two as “Soca Warriors” head coach Stephen Hart talks about harsh lessons against Haiti and Honduras, what a Pro League collapse could mean to Trinidad and Tobago football, the Cornell Glen dilemma and why he has balls like grapefruits.

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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230 comments

  1. Now the dribbling is only from the mouth

  2. Pele Tostaoo riverlino jarzino what were they passers or dribblers

  3. Thanks so much for the support cousin!! One day I will be on that roster Craig Nico

  4. Devyn Chevallier T&T needs you bro! Keep going bro you’ll be repping the red white and black soon!

  5. My mind returned to this interview:
    “The genuine quality to pick up the ball and run at defenders and penetrate or draw attention,” Trinidad and Tobago National Senior Team coach Stephen Hart told Wired868, “and then be able to dish the ball off to players is now absent in Trinidad and Tobago football. When you go to the Pro League, who really excites you when they get the ball?

    “Of course players can still shake and have quick feet. They can elude somebody. But they don’t destroy and I think it is a disappearing quality.”

  6. So true man! Functional sessions for the various groups within your squad whether it be for the defenders, Midfielders etc. Individual sessions to address the very specific needs of each players…

  7. Johan Cruyff: “If you take golf, you have a teacher for the drive, a teacher for the approach play and a teacher for the putt. That’s three specialist coaches for one player. In football one coach looks after 25 players. You can’t compare a centre-forward with an outside right or a midfield player. Their own game needs many different qualities and physical skills. That’s why I believe in individual coaching sessions. You have to take care of the individuals.”

  8. Kudijah Birot pappurr. Tyrel Emmanuel but aaa aa ?

  9. For once we have a coach who is thinking. I would encourage the minister of sport with TTFA to focus on development as a priority. Start building a long term plan to develop players for the future.

  10. Totally agree..but this country is very small – and it would shock you to know that the players themselves know who the best are – your scouting system ensures that you are always on top on the best talent coming thru…if I knew that my job was contingent on the success of this program then I would be scouring this country looking for the best..its a major advantage that we have over other competing countries…

  11. Unless maybe you have different styles of coaches at every level to make sure there isn’t a strong bias in terms of the type of players selected.

  12. Good food for thought Tony. I have one problem with the elite academy though. They will always miss players. So we have to coach a wide pool and then allow them to play for their communities and schools up to a certain age. So they can pass on knowledge.
    Personally I think we had the damn thing right in the first place.
    In the 80s and early 90s, there were zonal all star teams, leagues like Eddie Hart and national teams from under-14 straight up to under-23 that actually toured and played matches. And we were a hot bed of talent then.
    Less chance of players slipping through the cracks then. Or not getting a chance to get some football knowledge.
    If we had a football academy, it wouldn’t have helped players like Jemmott and Carlos Edwards and Dennis Lawrence who were either late bloomers or off the beaten path.
    Players like Pappy and Quinn Rodney are the same. Academies won’t help them because they won’t get in depending on who is in charge.

  13. Lasana, the one mistake we cannot make is to assume that methods being used outside could work right away locally. I know we talk quite a bit about the Dutch approach here in T&T and we compare what is going in the US, Spain, England etc to what is being done in T&T. I’ve read quite a bit about the approach Belgium has taken recently and much of the rhetoric mentioned here is similar to what they have done – small sided games, free play, less coaching, let the players figure out the solutions to problems on the pitch etc. However, locally we are not operating on a level playing field – no pun intended. For instances, 95% of the coaches in T&T are attempting to develop young players on sub standard surfaces where the hardest thing is to reassure a youngster that his attempt at a first time pass or finish was the right thing to do , and the fact that the ball ended up in the stands was due to a horrible bounce as opposed to incorrect technique… his confidence over time is affected and thus he is not as assured as a youngsters in Spain, Holland or the US who may be training on a modern Astro Turf surface or a properly prepared pitch. Sounds like a minor thing but in the grand scheme of things it’s major. Secondly, the pool of ultra talented players that we are dealing with is extremely small compared to any of the nations that we hope to be competing against. In most first world football countries your primary responsibility is to “create the environment” and it is assumed that the cream will rise to the top. In Argentina, Germany, Spain – there are generations to come of players who will ensure that these nations are competing for World Cups. In T&T there maybe 2 or 3 players only per GENERATION that may give us an opportunity to even qualify for a World Cup. What that means is that our approach locally to developing young players must be different in that coaches cannot rely on conventional methods when putting together a development plan. We must, as a football community – identify the absolute best at an early enough age and ensure that they are brought together so as to begin addressing all aspects of their development – the physical, technical, tactical and psychological. This ensures that we are not “hitting and hoping” that a Levi Garcia or Dwight Yorke randomly comes along – rather, we are putting into place an infrastructure that ensures that the best players who give us the best opportunity for success internationally – “down the road” are identified and developed to the best of our ability. We simply do not have the extensive pool of potentially great youth players that those countries
    have and thus conventional wisdom will not address our short falls. What works in those countries or anywhere else may not work in T&T. Secretly, that has been the mission from day one, the assumptions that I made when left the US about player development had to be thrown out the door, in truth I was somewhat naive about the challenges that exist locally but I strongly believe that it can be done. My advice to anyone wanting to be part of that process is to rethink what you may have known and grown accustomed too abroad. In fact, before you even think about “the football” – the methods, the coaches, balls, goals, cones etc. think about the cost of a vibratory roller and a grass cutting tractor. My colleagues abroad would laugh at that statement and I did too initially, that is until I had to find the funding to purchase and then learn to operate such machinery. Our challenges are different and before we can think about methods regarding player development, we must first think about the infrastructure found in places where great players are being developed.

  14. in the US anything under 13 is 8v8 (u8-10) and 9v9 (u11 and u12)… 11 v 11 starts at u13…. at my club, we play 4 mths outdoor… 3 months indoor (futsal/indoor) and then 3 mths back outdoors…. we use fusal to work on foot speed and movement…. It is a good way to help work on the finer aspects of game… personally I am not really a big fan… I am more a fan of Free play… let the boys/girls play (small goal style).. it lets them enjoy playing the game without refs and coaches… the Dutch have started going to this model of games where the kids play and enforce the rules…. They are seeing the decline of the creative players and are trying to address it…… Bottom line…. If we are not doing these things as a country at the youth level we are wasting time… we will ALWAYS have to to look outside to fill holes because we are not trying to develop youth talent, which in of itself is a skill…..

  15. Actually he also made a separate comment that was an interesting pitch for Futsal as a way to develop young players for even the outdoor game.

  16. Who ready to get tun up? Lol

  17. Lasana yuh open a “Jep Nest” with this interview bro…thing is – it’s the sought of information that should be regularly conveyed to coaches involved in developing young players locally…the senior team coach identifies a deficiency and everyone should be working to address it with the young ones coming up – yuh doing the TD work right now lol!

  18. I coach u8s and u9s up here Sana…. my instruction is simple… if you see green grass attack it….. We pass out of the defensive and middle 3rd… however, once in the attacking 3rd they have green light to take on people…. i am looking for game changers…. game changers learn how to dribble effectively and have no fear in taking on people… effective passing is 100% based on movement of others…. concept not really necessary to teach 8 and 9s… learning your body and how it feels when in motion is more important that how to pass a ball into space….

  19. Ramsey over Sanchez then Cornell? ? Lol

  20. As a coach i will take a passer over a dribbler any day. Why? Most great passers usually has excellent first touch and an excellent first touch can easily be used as a dribble.

  21. Lasana., please don’t call him Ronaldo.. Call him Cristiano.. Let’s continue to respect the legend of the real Ronaldo.. ?

  22. Yup.. Cristiano is slightly robotic but extremely effective..

  23. But some robotic dribblers like Cristiano still very effective eh. I would take a Ronaldo in red, black and white any day. Lol.

  24. Guys.. A dribbler is a natural.. It’s a God given talent.. Of course you can learn different fronts etc but you will not be as effective as a natural dribbler. A learned dribbler looks a tad robotic and unnatural.. The best dribblers in world football at the moment is Messi and Neymar. Those two will embarrass you.. Locally.. The best ever in my opinion is Terry St. Louis.. Wish he did more with those natural gifts..

  25. Lasana I await your comment on my contribution previously . In addition dribbling requires creative thinking and speed of decision making none of these qualities are encouraged or enhanced in the present school cirriculum.

    • Missed some comments. Will check. Not sure about the influence of the curriculum for a skill like that.
      Jemmott probably wasn’t an add maths or physics whiz at Malick. But he sure was on the football field.

    • I do think believe school had anything to do with football. But I get the concept of quick, creative thinking is concerned. However no one truly makes up a dribble on the fly. It is something that is practiced, typically in a non structured environment.

    • I remember Fenwick once explaining how you can know when a defender is dead already by how square his hips are.
      It can take players years to work out when you can glide past a defender based on where he is facing and how close he is and stuff.
      A good coach can get you there quicker yes.

    • Modern football is about quick decision making in conjunction with the required physical attributes. If one is conditioned in ones developing years to do things by rote then this attitude continues into later life. That is where the school experience cones in, if you mind is not geared and exercised in analysis and synthesis then the ability to innovate and invent is stymied.
      This is a feature of many of our coaches as well ,in particular in the lower age groups ,of course this means that potential elite players are not recognized early in their playing career because these coaches measure performance mainly on athletic ability.
      I agree with Keith, technical ability has to have precedence,it’s all well and good to dribble through a defense but then you are unable to pass the ball under the bar ,between the posts and round the keeper.

    • Yes. That’s an excellent point Trevor in terms of learning by rote or analysis. I hear Jamaal say the same thing from time to time.
      But nobody suggested that you learn to dribble and that’s it. That wouldn’t make sense.
      I think the point was always that it is easier to learn the other skills but we must allow them to experiment with dribbling when they are young.

  26. Messi was considered a great dribbler when he started. His shooting and passing were decent at best and he wasn’t much good at free kicks then.
    Thank God nobody convinced him to cut out dribbling and pay more attention to the other parts of his game.

  27. I had the opportunity to work with Quinn at a very young age, very talented young man good dribbler, went to see him play for his school ( P- Town ) and he was deployed as a right back !

  28. I would say if dribbling is an asset and some kids have a knack for it, then work with them to master it.

  29. Agreed. I think what Hart is saying is that when we find these players, although yes they are ball hogs in the formative years, we need to allow them that freedom and not kill it in the name of winning games at age group level. Maybe around 14 and up the passing could be taught after the dribbling skills already engrained.

  30. SO WHAT HAPPEN TO CAESAR GREAT 1

  31. Dribblers wanted!! opportunities in sports people..get yuh children involved instead on liming on the blocks!!!!

  32. But Gary Hector organize a lil small goal session for all chinky field players and get yuh partner Hart to come he might find some dribblers in the making : P

  33. loook meh here…look meh here…look meh here..except ah bun from just typing alone. : P

  34. As defensive organisation has developed the irony is in football today the teams that really make the difference are the ones that possess individuals with quality to create in a faster game with less space. Many of our coaches haven’t recognized that yet.

  35. I think that the coach is hinting at a start for levi with this article… but i can also see where his mind set is in terms of breaking down teams. personally apart from grit and the luck of the bounce at times we struggle to create meaningful scoring chances espescially without Molino playing close to Jones

    that being said when we talk about dribblers as a old malick man I had always loved Tinto and Marvin “Tiny” Lee

    I remember playing fatima and hearing the coach scream at his defender REGARDING TINTO ” doh rush him he go beat yuh”

    • Lasana Liburd

      Lol. Tinto really was a top dribbler. One of the best I’ve seen is Evans Wise though. Jerren Nixon was excellent too. And Darin Lewis.

  36. Hart is spot on the need for confident technical attacking players. I think the best and fastest method to accomplish this is to follow Brazil, Holland, Uruguay, Belgium, Italy, Spain and Portugal by building and expanding the play of Futsal throughout the country. I do not know for the others but Brazil and Portugal have poor quality dusty fields worse than us for youth football but they have used Futsal to create dynamic attacking players that smile and express themselves when they play football.

    Futsal can increase the number of boys and girls playing quickly because you can have multiple teams playing league and tournaments. The players between the ages of 8-14 will touch the ball in a competitive environment 700% more than 11v11 and 400% more than 8 v 8. Those touches over time payoff tremendously. Futsal is a played in a state of perpetual 1v1, even your goalkeeper develops footskills at a young age. When played, coached and refereed properly Futsal forces players to have efficient discplined movement because of the restrictions on physical contact. This takes size out of the equation at the younger ages where early physically developed kids dominate because they are stronger not more technical nor creative. Robinho, CR7 and Ronaldinho always speak of how Futsal helped make them the players they became.

    These powerhouse nations learned that the best players developed in small side, Futsal is much more but it is built from that small goal competitive expressive base.

    Expand Futsal, if we do nothing else we will still have positive results.

    • Lasana Liburd

      I will make sure the national futsal coach, Clayton Morris sees this. 😉
      I wonder how much small goal football the younger players play now. It isn’t futsal but it still produces more one v one opportunities and more touches of the ball than 11v11.

      • I hope it helps Clayton’s cause, not sure how maybe moral support. lol. If boys and girls younger than 14 playing anything more than 8 v 8 we have to change that immediately. The small goal model whether through Futsal or on its own must be part of our foundation at younger ages. A highly respected international coach(remain nameless) said to me, “you can teach any monkey to pass” so from 6 to 14 let them dribble and beat players, be creative and express themselves. You can teach formation and tactics when you have quality technical players instead of being tactically limited because the players do not have the required skills. Hart’s great point is that the lack of the skills limits his tactics and style of play.

        Klinsman is always telling US Soccer that he came from a working class family and developed outside his apartment playing small goal on the streets or courtyard with friends. Now, finally the in USA they are building futsal courts everywhere, unfortunately they have the courts but the same old coaches..hahaha

        England finally got on board when Simon Clifford introduced Brazilian Soccer Schools teaching South American techniques in UK. Kristian Wilson who started working with Brazilian Soccer Schools, then went on to Manchester City Elite Development Squad to be a skills coach is now one of Patrick Vierra assistant coach at NYCFC. All because of the the value people are seeing in Futsal.

        Ah off mi pulpit now. yuh cud tell ah does coach Futsal..hahaha

  37. And don’t forget long time everybody playing 3 v 3 small goal on the road. Nowadays with all dem foreign used cars, you bong to get bounce down! 🙂

  38. Anybody else thinks foreign used motorcar business helped eliminate dribbling? You could get bounce doing trying to play small goal on the road now. Long time is 3 v 3 all over the place! Hahaha.

  39. Preach, preach, Dennis Allen…..Them really good yes.

  40. this is because we keep sending players to the US and getting them back carbon copies of the USMNT kit: size, speed, touch…where the craft? where the ingenuity?
    we’ve broken that out of the T&T players for some years well.
    same thing on the basketball court too.
    system system system system
    just a few guys who can guts-out a defence and have that touch pass at the end of a run to open up an account

  41. Marcus is a creative play but idk y they ain’t giving him more playing time or call up

  42. I remember the days when men used to go football just to see Bert Neptune score. He usually scored at least one. Ol’ Bound to Score they called him.

  43. Check out Christian Thomas of Real maracas i tell you

  44. where passing culminates in dribbling

  45. Barcelona frontline is a current international standard

  46. The ability to dribble is a dying art form; all over the world. It a surprise weapon and a good team can become a very good team if it contains effective dribblers. There aren’t many pure dribblers worldwide.

    • But from Mahrez to iniesta to Sanchez to Messi. And, of course, Neymar. Di Maria, Payet… Still have more than a few. There might be more of those than old school number 9s and 10s still.

    • And Hazard and Mane and Bolassie. I think most decent teams have one Kelo. Coutinho is another.
      City try to cheat with track stars like Sterling and Navas instead of genuine dribblers. But you can’t push and run against top defenders.

    • Yes Lasana/James.. Coutinho, Bolassie, Hazard, Messi, Neymar.. Prob Ribery.. You’re right.. Sterling is a track star so too is Navas.. Not many genuine dribblers to make you put your hand to your mouth and gasp..

    • Sorry Sana, have to agree with Kelvin on this.. Coutinho et all, are skillful players who can dribble well.. pure dribblers are like Ronaldinho, Maradona, could put Messi & Neymar in there…these are men who can change any game against any caliber competition via dribbling… ALL mentioned above, with the exception of Messi on most part, Can be shut down with effective marking…

    • Ian, even a decent dribbler can’t be stopped 1v1. So when you to create a trap for him, there is a teammate of his who gets more space to exploit to me.
      A world class dribbler like Messi and Neymar can force an entire defence to adjust. But I think even a decent dribbler is much better than none at once he will win his individual battles. Even Nani could do that. (Apologies for saying “even” Nani. Ah don’t mean it!) lol

    • winning 1 v1 match ups is what you teach…. it’s those guys who can win the 1 v 3, 1v4 or 1 v 5 match up against elite competition… those are the ones that are few and far between… but that is a conversation we are having about dribblers vr pure dribblers…. now if we bring it back to having a dribbler in your side, I would take an EFFECTIVE dribbler anyday over a passer…

    • Ian you clearly dont look at Messi enough lol #effectivemarking lol

  47. yeah we have dribblers now and throughout the years but they didn’t have much for football ‘brains’. Which in turn meant they weren’t very effective.Brazil had Denilson and we had Evans Wise in the same boat lol.

  48. Lasana Liburd wasnt the opposite our problem a while back?? That T&T players dribbled too much and we had few players who knew how to pass and split defences??

  49. For me you born with dribbling skills yes of course you could learn the basics but it’s not the same.

  50. Written for another thread (on the same post); but duplicating here:

    Yes, Veno Balgobin, I’m thrilled to see someone appreciating Bert Neptune. He was the last genuinely world-class ‘forward’ player we produced; standing alongside Alvin Corneal, Gally Cummings, Leroy De-Leon, Warren Archibald, Steve David, and Ron La Forest (army-version).

    On another note, I am pleased to see Hart recognize important personnel-deficiencies. However, I am not sure that he should depend on player-development through our local football arrangements. After all, since ‘Miss Bertha son’ we have not seen a single other ‘wizard’ coming through.

    Thus, I think Hart can get creative here, and work to develop the individual qualities which are lacking, by, for example, allowing a couple of those guys listed above to run clinics with the current players (perhaps even at the expense of some of those ‘friendlies’).

    • I can’t say he was the last world class forward when Jerren Nixon and Stern John came after. But he must have been good for sure.

    • and Dwight Yorke for that matter

    • Also that isnt the role of the national team head coach or players, that should be what the technical director gets paid for!

    • In my judgement, these later players, like Nixon, John, Yorke, Latapy and (my personal favourite) Cornell Glen, were all solid ‘B+’, and not quite in the same class as those players I named.

      I know that younger fans would not have seen these ‘champagne’ players in action. But incisive research would show that they were a class apart. (continued)

    • Re the ‘technical director’ being the person paid for player-development: I would think that Hart is the overall boss, and can advise the TD thus:

      Hear nah, rather than fly out to play a friendly against Grenada, I think that you should organize some intense sessions with the forward players for the next 6 days.(We could bring in, say, Steve David and Ron La Forest to conduct these sessions with specific objectives).

      Afterwards, we could still play a couple of practice games against a W. Connection 11 and a Select 11 drawn from players on the ‘edge’, who I want to look at a bit more. Those games would probably be more useful that playing against Grenada anyway.

      Hell, if we see significant progress, we could even consider organizing a repeat in place of that ‘friendly’ against Uruguay. Thus far, the gains from these foreign ‘friendlies’ seem marginal.

  51. I’ll work on a few in my season coming up not worried

  52. Yea Julio Noel upload some vids quick. Yuh wud gt

  53. On another note, if we intend on fostering good dribblers and shooters from a younger age then our younger players should be playing with smaller balls…..I don’t think 10 year olds should be playing with size 5 balls

  54. Dribbling should only be a means to achieving a glorious end. Over the years I’ve seen too many dribblers who couldn’t see that. They dribbled kinda ” powerful stupid “. But yes some creativity is definitely welcome.

    • Lol. Very true. And there are other skills missing.
      He pointed out that the best header of the ball by same distance is 41 years old. And that is Marvin Oliver.
      Heading is another asset our players generally don’t have. And it will cost us in tight games.

  55. Marcus Gomez is the master of this, he played u20 and many will say he is the best they have ever seen at this……he plays super league now at age 21 but I’m certain he can impact, just like Cummings came back from the shadow and dominated!

    • I’ve heard allot about this kid…

    • Yeah. Saw him at Stars and he had something. Heard discipline is an issue though.

    • Lasana Liburd people in Trinidad always putting their tongue on today’s youth and I’m fedup of it, I’ve played with him since u16 and his ability was nothing short of Russell latapy, however while my parents will pick me up from practice he would have to face rival gang warfare on his way home from practice which affected his tardiness at times……….its way too easy for us to blame someone’s lack of normal behavior down to discipline especially when high level talent is a factor

    • Tevin, I’ve seen Marcus Gomez play and I like his potential. But let me stop you right there. Latapy was younger than Gomez when the United States had to put two players on him.
      Please don’t use names like Latapy lightly. It is sacrilege. Don’t minimise what those guys achieved. Dwight Yorke was 17 and man on the match against Costa Rica senior team.
      And that same Costa Rica team went to the World Cup and stunned Brazil. Don’t let Gomez think he is on the same plane with a Latapy.
      We can resume that chat after that. Lol.

    • Lasana Liburd okay okay I hear what you’re saying and I stand corrected! I just really think he was special

    • Yeah. I liked Gomez. He was fearless with the ball.

  56. It is the responsibility of the TTFA to know the type of players and style of play that they want Trinidad and Tobago football to represent. They are to then implement a development plan which includes a national coaching education program that can be used by all clubs in T&T. Then allow for 10 to 15 years of development and we will have a successful national team. And while I agree that competition at youth level is good, coaching at the youth level presently, is about winning not player development. Players are not allowed to express themselves freely.

  57. Need to look at me then lol

  58. highley was very talented but as you said his choice of lifestyle is what ruined him he can’t see a bottle and pass it straight wkat a wasted talent he is

  59. Dion Sosa plenty good ones gets lost thru the cracks because of lack of proper mentoring and guidance. I thought gorian highley was def one to make it far. He was a sick dribbler. But lifestyle choices. But hart is on the ball. He knows what he is saying. We need alot more tournament and closer monitoring of talents.

  60. Dribbling is great but it should primarily be used to create space. One of the reasons why the US will never truly be world class has to do with too much structure and their inability to develop creative players. Dribbling is learned at home not at practice regardless of what others think. Most coaches not going to take the time to teach you to dribble per se as it is a much less structured thing…. having said that it should be encouraged but not at the expense of passing and so forth…don’t agree with that one.

    • Probably why Klinsmann has embraced second generation players from Latin American and other “exotic” backgrounds/heritage in the U.S. team.

    • Brent, I understand teams like Porto are excellent in doing individual skills training for players. They don’t only have structured training for the collective but individuals too.
      I think dribbling can be done in training too. Even Grayson used to give us one v one drills.

    • Don’t disagree but that stuff is perfected at home not in practices. Quite frankly dribbling is something that is learned in a non structured environment more times than not.

    • i’m not sure i have seen world class sides like Germany with many dribblers either though. The dutch teach dribbling in their clinics but praised Robben as “the last of his generation” being taught in the streets, which set him apart from the rest of the team in the last world cup so I see Bren’ts point in terms of it being better in non-structured environments

    • Littbarski and Hassler were dribblers though. And their teams were successful. And Dutch academies are obsessed with pass and move. Bet when they are watching Euro from the outside, they will think about the need for variety.
      Every skill is part natural and part honed. If it is shooting, heading, passing and dribbling.
      Ronaldo wasn’t born shooting like that. And Messi didn’t always pass that well.

  61. ..In fact, WIDE play in modern football relies heavily on wing backs. And me eh want no wing back who looking to and/or likes to dribble..

  62. I hope people recognize in the modern form and evolution of the beautiful game that so called “wing play” and “wingers” are merely options in the play book that have gradually slipped down the ladder for a number of various intrinsic and tactical reasons.

  63. The point was properly ventilated and understood.

  64. So many of you are missing the point. He does not want a team of dribblers. But it’s nice to have one or two players who can go one on one with defenders especially if they are out on the wings. If you don’t have players especially on the wings who are capable of taking on a wing back then defenses just sit back waiting on your cross instead of drawing them out of a bunker defense by eliminating the wing back. Further, skill drills will eliminate any tendency to dribble willy nilly. Besides dribblers develop their skills from the cradle. Back in the day we played with mango seeds and then progressed to tennis balls. If you can control a mango seed or a tennis ball and keep them away from five or six kids chasing you then you have a shot at being a great dribbler. Genuine dribblers are not born big.

  65. Lol! He had ting back then man. Giving past credit where it’s due.

  66. Joel … is Evans self cross my mind when I read that article. I feel that man probably try to dribble the doctor when was born! He coulda embarrass people boy ….

  67. Joel you was going good until you call Kevin. Lol…lol.

  68. He needs to have that passing chat with LVG!!!

  69. Add Kevin Jeffrey to that mix also. It was totally awesome in the true sense of the word.

  70. I had the pleasure of playing alongside some of the most destructive and productive attackers at National Youth Level. And it was a natural gift of knowing when, where and why (except for Evans sometimes, cause he literally used to dribble everybody in sight, referee and all lol). Thank u for all the wonderful memories Arnold Dwarika, Mickey Trotman, Evans Wise, Marvin Raeburn, Jeremy Shortt, Miguel Mitchell, Lyndon Andrews and Marvin Oliver. Class is class any day and everyday. Just look at the level of competition for selection in that group alone.

    • Yuh leave Darin “Speng” Lewis off that list?! And maybe you didn’t see Junior “Killer” Hamilton. I played with both of them for House of Dread.
      I wouldn’t classify all those guys as dribblers that you listed. But Evans Wise was a freak. He was something else altogether yes.
      Remember Sean “Puppet” Eusebe too? Pressure.

  71. We have sessions Lasana that are just old fashioned one v one – we did allot of it when Levi was here – the players enjoy it and the coaches enjoy it as well because say what you want – there is nothing like seeing a man destroy a defender or two!

  72. Yes, definitely. In the past we had very good players who really couldn’t dribble, but you had the natural dribblers like Burt Neptune Peter Mitchell, etc. They were taught the fundamentals of the game but the dribbling was natural.

  73. Part of being a good dribbler is also knowing when not to dribble. Every time I see or play against youngsters, they generally tend to hold onto the ball too much and try to do too much. Their control is generally also poor. Have to say that I’m with Keith on this one.

  74. I remember when I had Devenish as coach at Arima United, Keith. He would give you the ball to dribble a full back and cross. And he would alternate defenders too so they were fresher than you were.
    I loved that challenge. You don’t think simple things like that help Wayne? And Anthony?

  75. ..EFFECTIVE dribbling requires DISCIPLINE. That may sound odd, even contradictory, but it is true. The Trini player needs the straight jacket of a passing regime on the field. Take that from me..

  76. Well, we can do a better job of developing them. And we should also look at stuff like elasticity of movement and so on, which is also down to work in sessions.
    Right Oba Gulston and Gregory Seale?

  77. I think that the approach that most coaches tend to take is a pragmatic one in that – you would want to ensure that the players you develop are fundamentally sound – very good passers and very good first touch – an understanding of good supporting positions. Good dribblers are instinctual – it’s an inherent quality usually developed at a young age and harnessed in informal playing environments (small goal). I understand what the coach is saying and truth is – if a coach is telling a young player to pass in and around the 18 when he has a defender isolated then that is a problem. On the other hand – I remember the coach mentioning that we are not, at times, good enough in possession which insinuates that under pressure – we are struggling fundamentally…it’s a balancing act to be honest.

    • Wouldn’t that depend on the circumstances? Passing in or around the 18 with a defender isolated to an unmarked teammate can’t be a bad thing.

    • Definitely…depends on the player who’s doing the dribbling and the option of the player available to him…players tend to figure those things out on the pitch. But working with young players 9,10,11,12 – I encourage them to take on that defender 🙂

  78. NO MORE COMMENTS, NORRIS….LOL

  79. Words every attacking player wants to hear – “Okay fellas, when you get the ball I doh want you to pass immediately … first you must hit the full back a spanner, then cyap the centre back, after which you will fan the keeper and THEN you pass!”

    Queen’s Park Savannah would automatically become the largest training ground in the history of football.

  80. Wayne this is football talk. You want me to remind people about down Forest Reserve? Lol……lol.

  81. Very Interesting comments. however I agree with Keith Look Loy in that you really can’t “teach” dribbling. You have to be born with it and then “developed”. ….(Norris…stay where you are…. LOL)

  82. Keith Look Loy The way defenses are more disciplined today you need a dribbler to break down a defense also. But your point about passing is valid. It is still amazing that at this level and at this stage of their careers we have so many players who still cannot make 15-20 yard passes accurately and frequently.

  83. Hahaha. Cornell, you are real head yes.

  84. I agree with my Coach Hart and the problem is that many of our bootleg Coaches are not letting our young players to be creative eh, look how long it is taking for us to see another Russell Latapy – The Little Magician that our Soca Worries team needs so badly on the team and the other problem is that the fella Corbin I heard that he is very talented eh, but like Ball Pest Cummings lacks the discipline for them to become a millionaire like Dwight Yorke and I can name a few more past players who was very talented and should have been also millionaires there is another one right now in our sweet country who passed through the national youth teams and he is now about 20 yrs old and he too should be a millionaire because of his talent. When I saw him at North East Stars a few years ago eh, I kept on telling everybody about him eh, even when I told Dion Sosa to check him out he reported back to me about the players talent, I don’t really know if he can be helped eh Lasana Liburd He is from Maloney and I have yet gone to meet him personally and really see if I can get through to him, but players like these really needs a good mentor and the help of a psychologist his name is Marcus Gomez I can’t wait to see him play for his minor league team that he plays for in Carenage and I am going to be his manager eh. LOL

  85. I have been saying this 4 yrs the coaches are stifiling the creativity out of players no more feared dribblers a lot of these players have no weapons in their arsenal like the drag spanner cut back round the world they are basic just push and run so easy 2 defend

  86. Well, encourage it then. In terms of more one v one and so on in sessions. Roneil, the only Pro League player that comes to mind when we speak of dribblers is Jason Marcano.
    I won’t consider any of those four you named to be real dribblers. Although Nathan and Tyrone do penetrate at this level.

    • How young are you Lasana? From what I have heard the last great dribblers we had were Colin Rocke, Arnold Dwarika, Anthony Sherwood and Dwight Yorke. The fellas now are just using speed and feints but those guys – from what I have heard – were true dribblers.

  87. Okay guys, I hear the call. I will be back.

  88. Kirwin might feel more aggrieved now after reading this. I know he really wanted Nathan Lewis in the squad lol.

  89. Nathan Lewis, Tyrone Charles, Johan Peltier and the injured Cummings come to mind when thinking about dribblers in the Pro League.

  90. ..Dribbling is instinctive. You can’t teach that. Not really..

  91. Are the coaches capable of teaching the art of dribbling or are they hoping that a young Latapy springs up from somewhere?

  92. ..Don’t get me wrong. The world loves an EFFECTIVE dribbler. But my concern is not export. I rather develop a player who could play anywhere. And we always complain that our teams can’t possess the ball? Well, how is dribbling going to assist in that? The modern footballer must be an excellent PASSER. The top modern team has ONE, maybe TWO dribblers. They are the special talents. And nobody has to teach them how or tell them when to dribble.Moreover, what I want is PENETRATION. And that comes via dribbling, yes, but equally via good collective passing..

  93. Not that exporting is the only mark of success. But we need some unpredictability.

  94. Keith I think it’s a physiological problem due to a lack of structured and informal physical activity in the formative years.
    They never play hoop or scooch or fight for ball in goes in.

  95. Our football has become quite monotonous.The only time there is a roar is when a goal is scored.

  96. Thant young man is a game changer

  97. Tell him i recommend Christian Thomas of Real Maracas in the Super League.

  98. But we can’t export textbook players. We have to give them some spice.

  99. .They can’t dribble. And they can’t pass. I rather work on passing. Kill meh. LOLOL..

  100. Too much blackboard football is killing creativity.

  101. I’ve been preaching this forever!!! see why i love Stephan Hart, a man after my own heart.

  102. I’ve been preaching this forever!!! see why i love Stephan Hart, a man after my own heart.

    • That’s the main reason U.S. football has stagnated because in the academy and youth football they stifle creativity.

    • I have heard that said too Gerard.

    • Gerard, what you see of US football is not necessarily what is available to US soccer…I say that because I have seen some amazingly talented kids in the States – the problem previously is that many of them are in some cases – first generation, kids of immigrants who’s parents may not have the financial resources to enroll them in well establish clubs. What has resulted is the elimination of an entire cross section of players who are not exposed due to financial hardships – whilst my players are training, those kids that I am referring too are working at an after school job. It’s getting better as many of the US Development Academies are moving to fully funded programs where a players’ involvement is not continent on his parents’ ability to pay a fee. It’s a good move…

    • Good move for them Tony. Bad move for us.

    • Anthony Sherwood But you are not necessarily disagreeing with my central point. There is no creativity and the rest of CONCACAF have caught up with them. That’s the reason the coach keeps looking for players outside the system/country. The system is set up so the acadamies are where the “talent” comes from. I coached travel teams for 10 years and it’s the same wherever you play…the emphasis is on passing only and of course most of the coaches are English. I would beat them with a combination of individual skills and teamwork. But my kids were just like yours, not “bluebloods”.

    • Was simply point out that the game in the States will/is changing…

    • Anthony Sherwood The move by the academy might be good for their basic development but not for creativity. The academies even in Brazil are the problem with creativity not with basic football development. Those immigrant players of which you speak, wait until they graduate from the academies you won’t recognize them unless they hire a better blend of coaches. Too many Englishmen.

    • Coaches! Well that’s another issue all together – because you’ve done USSF A doesn’t mean that you’re a good coach – don’t get me started on that one 🙂

    • Anthony Sherwood I hope the “you” is not a reference to me. lol