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T&T U-20 hopefuls urged to join Pro League clubs; TTFA president explains 

Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) president David John-Williams has defended National Under-20 Team coach Brian Williams’ message to his players that they risk jeopardising their international careers if they did not join Pro League clubs.

Photo: St Anthony's College utility player Andrew Rullow silences Speyside High during 2014 SSFL Big Four action. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: St Anthony’s College utility player Andrew Rullow silences Speyside High during 2014 SSFL Big Four action.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

John-Williams, who is the owner of the W Connection Football Club, and Williams, who is a Connection youth team coach, addressed teenaged international aspirants at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva yesterday.

Williams’ initial 33-member shortlist comprised only of Pro League youth and senior team players. However, the coach allowed other players to try out, based on recommendations from other local coaches and football stakeholders.

Those additions included the Shiva Boys Hindu College duo of Tyrel “Pappy” Emmanuel and Quinn Rodney, St Mary’s College winger Ethan Shim, former St Benedict’s College custodian Jamari Warrick and St Anthony’s College winger Kathon St Hillaire and utility player Andrew Rullow.

Before the session started, the non-Pro League players were asked to stand up in front of their teammates.

“(The TTFA president) asked them what is the reason they are not with a Pro League club,” said the observer, who spoke on condition of anonymity. “The first two boys were Shim and St Hillaire and they said they were at academies and were focusing on improving their football with those academies.

Photo: Shiva Boys midfielder Tyrel "Pappy" Emmanuel (right) dribbles past Presentation College (San Fernando) midfielder Kareem Riley during 2014 SSFL action. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: Shiva Boys midfielder Tyrel “Pappy” Emmanuel (right) dribbles past Presentation College (San Fernando) midfielder Kareem Riley during 2014 SSFL action.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

“Then ‘Pappy’ said he was in Form Five and wanted to have some time to focus on exams. To which, John-Williams said ‘you are focusing on exams but you are here at national training (…) and just like you made a choice the coach has to make a choice’.

“He focused on Pappy for such a long time that he never got to ask Quinn Rodney why he was not at a Pro League club.”

Emmanuel, who was one of three Trinidad and Tobago players selected for a training stint with Manchester City earlier this year, was singled out by “Soca Warriors” coach Stephen Hart as one of the two island republic’s best young talents along with his schoolmate, Rodney.

The Shiva Boys student has apparently agreed to represent National Super League (NSL) club, Marabella Family Crisis Centre, in the upcoming senior season. The NSL is Trinidad and Tobago’s second tier competition and consists of amateur clubs.

Williams reiterated the importance of club football before the players left the session.

Photo: St Anthony's College winger Kathon St Hillaire charges at the St Mary's College defence on the way to scoring his team's third goal in the 2015 North Zone Intercol final at the Hasely Crawford Stadium. (Courtesy Nicholas Bhajan/Wired868)
Photo: St Anthony’s College winger Kathon St Hillaire charges at the St Mary’s College defence on the way to scoring his team’s third goal in the 2015 North Zone Intercol final at the Hasely Crawford Stadium.
(Courtesy Nicholas Bhajan/Wired868)

“At the end of the session, the coaching staff pulled the players aside and said they have to find a Pro League club if they want to play for their country,” said the source. “No player should be told that. You have a trial and if they are good enough, you pick the player regardless of what club he is or is not attached to.”

Several other persons who attended yesterday’s national training session appeared to confirm the details provided by Wired868’s source.

However, John-Williams said it was the National Under-20 coach who asked the players to join a Pro League club. And that, he explained, was because the Secondary Schools Football League (SSFL) ended five months ago and some players had not played competitively since then.

But the TTFA president insisted that they had not made a policy to debar players who were not playing for Pro League clubs.

“I never said (they had to be playing for) a Pro League team; Brian said that,” John-Williams told Wired868. “And that was said on the basis that we have serious football to play and, if you are not playing club football, it will affect our football…

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) president David John-Williams (centre) presents Naparima College attacker Jarred Dass with his 2015 National Intercol medal. Dass is a Connection youth team player. (Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) president David John-Williams (centre) presents Naparima College attacker Jarred Dass with his 2015 National Intercol medal.
Dass is a Connection youth team player.
(Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)

“I never said they should join a Pro League club. I said they should be in a serious club division.”

John-Williams suggested that the national youth coach did not mean only Pro League players would be considered, even though he said so to his trialists.

“(Williams) probably said ‘Pro League clubs’ because those are the only clubs active right now,” said the TTFA president. “I don’t think the coaching staff meant (they will only consider players attached to) Pro League clubs alone.”

At present, the Pro League Youth League has just 10 clubs.

Defence Force and Police FC both allow other teams to represent them at youth level. The other eight Pro League teams train in the following areas: Couva (two), San Fernando (one), Point Fortin (one), Port of Spain (one), Barataria/San Juan (one), Tacarigua (one) and Arima (one).

At senior level, Pro League players can use their salaries for transport or to find accommodation closer to their respective teams. However, youth team players do not have that luxury, and attending regular sessions far from their homes can adversely affect their studies.

Photo: Shiva Boys HC attacker Quinn Rodney (right) takes on St Anthony's College defender Brent Joel during 2015 SSFL action in Westmoorings. (Courtesy Kerlon Orr/Wired868)
Photo: Shiva Boys HC attacker Quinn Rodney (right) takes on St Anthony’s College defender Brent Joel during 2015 SSFL action in Westmoorings.
(Courtesy Kerlon Orr/Wired868)

Rodney, for instance, lives in Mayaro, which does not have a Pro League club.

If the national youth team refused to consider players outside the Pro League set-up, they would deny Tobago and large cross-sections of Trinidad from the honour of representing their country.

However, John-Williams insisted that the National Under-20 Team had no such policy.

“It is ideal that they should be playing competitively but it is not a rule,” said the TTFA president. “We never made a rule.”

He attempted to explain his warning to Emmanuel and the National Under-20 coaching staff’s stance on the other international aspirants who had not joined clubs due to their academic pursuits.

Shim and Rullow, for instance, are both supposedly waiting to take up United States soccer scholarships. They told the coaching staff that they risked being disqualified if they appeared in a competition that also includes professional players.

Photo: St Mary's College attacker Ethan Shim (right) tries to hold off Trinity College East defender Christian Ransome during 2015 SSFL Premier Division action at the Hasely Crawford Stadium. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: St Mary’s College attacker Ethan Shim (right) tries to hold off Trinity College East defender Christian Ransome during 2015 SSFL Premier Division action at the Hasely Crawford Stadium.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

“Some players said they had exams and I said I cannot be against a player for that,” said the TTFA president. “But there are several players here who are doing exams and playing club football and they are here trying out for the national team. So the coaches have to be fair to them too.

“My exact words to Pappy were: You made a choice to study for your exams ahead of club football and I cannot be against a young man who has made that decision. But, at the same time, you are here for the national team. Exams don’t matter because you want to play for your national team.

“But there are several other players here who have exams and are also playing club football. And the coach has to be fair.”

Trinidad and Tobago, who are the defending Caribbean Under-20 champions, will play their first qualifying round of games at home against St Lucia, Guadeloupe and Turks and Caicos from 15-19 June 2016.

Williams described it as a favourable draw although he vowed not to take any of their three opponents lightly.

Photo: New Trinidad and Tobago National Under-20 coach Brian Williams. (Courtesy TTFA Media)
Photo: New Trinidad and Tobago National Under-20 coach Brian Williams.
(Courtesy TTFA Media)

“I do not think we can afford to take any of the three teams in our group for granted,” Williams told the TTFA Media, “because the gap in international football continues to close and either of these teams are capable of springing a surprise on the day.

“The good thing for us is that our first group will played at home so we will be familiar with the conditions. But this doesn’t take away from us needing to be well prepared and having a team that is capable of advancing all the way in these qualifiers.”

The winner of each of the four preliminary qualifying groups will advance to the CFU Finals in Curacao in October along with the third best runners-up.

The CFU’s top four teams will then advance to the 2017 CONCACAF Under-20 Championship, where the top four nations will earn a place at the Korea Republic 2017 FIFA Under-20 World Cup.

Photo: The late Akeem Adams (left) represented Trinidad and Tobago at the Egypt 2009 Under-20 and Korea Republic 2007 Under-17 World Cups.
Photo: The late Akeem Adams (left) represented Trinidad and Tobago at the Egypt 2009 Under-20 and Korea Republic 2007 Under-17 World Cups.

Trinidad and Tobago qualified for the Portugal FIFA Under-21 World Cup in 1991 while their last appearance at a FIFA competition came at the Egypt 2009 Under-20 World Cup.

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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229 comments

  1. Big respect to coach Brian Williams, the man is giving every single youngster who has expressed an interest in playing with the U20s the opportunity to showcase themselves…it’s an excellent move on his part.

  2. I believe that playing constant football is the key. Saying “play with a pro league club” may have been a limited recommendation. However using Yorke and Levi as examples, we are not sharing that these guys’ ‘academics’ came from on the field. They spent more time there than in the classroom, so the formula is there. Our under 20’s simply need to be around quality players and coaches constantly with a specified training program implemented and monitored where ever they are.

    • Exactly. Levi is proof of the benefits of working with a Pro League club. And the coaching he received from Sherwood is an example of correct individual development.

    • …How easy it is to ignore the MAJOR contribution made by Palo Seco SC and Siparia Spurs to Levi Garcia’s career..

    • Keith Look Loy didn’t he play with T&TEC too? Keith I wasn’t neglecting the other contributions. As this is primarily a discussion about youths and Pro League that’s why I mentioned Levi.

    • ..Ok. But we must acknowledge that lots of talent is developed and plays outside of the TEN pro league clubs. Particularly at youth level, if we focus exclusively on those clubs we are doing both football and youth a dis-service..

    • I agree with both parties. Kevin Harrison is not wrong for stating the pro clubs because that is where the cv usually starts. We should acknowledge all merely because Trinidad is small enough to but on your work cv do we put down our pre school or primary school even. The majority don’t know the name of the club neymar played with prior to santos. Everyone along the chain has a roll and function. Those closer to the end usually get the publicity but the product always remember those that contributed in the start.

    • ..”That is where the CV starts”? So what about those players who don’t play for a TTPL side? And is that why the media always calling players’ SSFL team even when they are in the SMNT? The MAJORITY of football played in this country, is played by community clubs, which are NEVER given credit for producing players. You train a player for years and he gets into an Intercol team and everybody gets on like he born in the school. That same player plays one season for a TTPL side after you bring him up and they get the credit and start talking about their “academy”. Nonsense..

    • I agree it is unfortunate. I think the media references the school as a way to grab the attention of the masses. The proleague on paper is the highest tier of football so when its time to make mention that is what will take front.

  3. I agree with you 10000 percent sherwood since levi has made such a successful initiation into europe and the snr team it really has inspired a lot of youths that the dream of playing in europe is a reality but we need 2 dig deeper and change the blueprint model that most teams / coaching schools teach everybody seem 2 be obsessed with W”s and don’t pay much attention 2 development so a lot of our kids develop so many bad habits by the time they get into the national set up their technical and tactical ablity is so poor for a 16 or 17 year old that they will always be a step behind when we take teams 2 the youth WC qualifiers

  4. One of the problems as it pertains to kids locally “going for it” has to do with the fact that there are not enough examples of guys who have achieved a high level of success in football. In other words most players may dream of playing football at a big club in Europe, but the reality is that only a hand full have actually made it from this country – ever. Even now, there does not seem to be a clear pathway as to what’s involved in getting to a great club in Europe – for most, it’s a guessing game. Thus, practically sets in, and what we see is a cross section of players who may give it a shot locally or may opt to go abroad via a scholarship – that’s the compromise. Until we get to a point where ultra talent players from this country are going abroad frequently and succeeding, then I fear that we will forever be stuck in this holding pattern. The reality is that when youngsters visualize what life is like as a professional athlete they tend to associate that with what they see in the media and on TV – they see images of individuals who appear to exist in larger than life circumstances…if you are telling a young, big-time prospect that a local pro player in T&T does not drive around in a Porche or Mercedes then you are essentially painting a picture of “success” that becomes really difficult to sell. That same ultra talented youngsters is never going to put in the work that is necessary to even stand a chance based on the challenges that local pro players confront. That said, on another note – Levi’s story has inspired a massive cross section of youngsters who now entertain the notion that maybe it could happen for them. I get messages from kids everyday asking what are necessary steps required to follow in his footsteps. They have seen a few videos on Facebook that we have put out of him working his socks off and seemingly, a few months later, he is on the pitch playing with his club in Holland as well as “lighting up the place” with the National Senior team. Of-course, as we all know – there is much more to it, but for me – the positive is that we now have a group of very talented players who have really committed to the process. They are responding to everything that is being asked of them and I do believe that one in particular stands a great chance of succeeding soon. The mere fact that he is seemingly the subject of this article written by Lasana is a testament to what he is willing to endure to make it happen. If he succeeds then more will eventually follow because they are all highly motivated and willing to work to achieve their dream. If they fall short then at least we may have a better group of players locally. In another forum, I stated how important Levi Garcia’s story is to this current generation because I recall distinctly how important Dwight Yorke’s story was to our generation. Time will tell, until then I hope they assess him based on what he brings to the table as opposed to which youth pro league club he is not affiliated too…it almost conveys the impression that outside of the pro – league set up, there are no others capable of producing good players…the President of the TTFA represents all of us and not just football within the circles of the pro league and its operations.

    • Absolutely Tony!! “…assess him based on what he brings to the table as opposed to which pro league club he is not affiliated to….the President of TTFA represents all of us and not just football within the circles of the pro league and its operations” speaks volumes many don’t seem to get.

  5. ..That is not the point but ok…

  6. A degree in no way guarantees you a job, far less success in your field.

  7. ..Moreover, the student more or less knows he/she!will get that degree. The aspiring pro doesn’t have diddly squat guaranteed..

  8. No Chabeth no, they are not the same. Becoming a pro athlete vould never ever be equated to becoming an engineer etc
    That is a flawed hypothesis. The years and years of practise atheletes do cant be compared to 4 or 6 yrs of higher ed.

    • It doesn’t take 4-6 years of higher education to become an engineer. You first have to get into engineering school which requires the 7 odd years of schooling according to our system.
      But the point is, when a kid says they want to become an engineer, nobody says ok, that’s a nice idea, but let’s have a fall back plan so let me take you to guitar lessons. Parents say, ok, that’s great, here’s what you need to do to become an engineer… Get these grades, I’ll send you to lessons if you’re falling behind in the subjects you need etc etc…
      If a kid wants to become the next Messi, how is it ever going to happen if from the outset I’m leading him on a path away from that by for example, sending him to lessons instead of practice? It won’t ever happen that way.
      So we can sit here and talk about how few people “make it” but if you’re not really committed to something, you can’t expect to “make it.”

    • You’re making it sound as if you don’t have to put in any work before you actually get to engineering school, medical school, law school etc etc
      And also as if everybody who wants to those schools get in. Or gets into the top schools in those respective areas.
      And that isn’t true at all.
      You can’t get into uwi law school with twos and threes at the cape level. And you don’t get ones at cape with threes at csec and you don’t get ones at csec having failed everything at the lower levels of secondary school.
      It’s an investment and commitment to doing well from early that gets you into the schools.
      Of course, there’s always the exception to the rule.

    • On top on which, merely having a degree is one thing, gaining experience, specialising in a particular field is quite another. It takes far more than just 4 – 6 higher education to be a success in any professional field. You don’t become a SC right out of school for example.

    • Chabeth, it’s not the same because you acquire other educational skills/qualifications on your way to becoming an engineer that is documented. If you’re gonna become an engineer you’ll have CSEC and CAPE where you can branch off into anything afterwards if engineering doesn’t work. However, if you follow your dream as a footballer all you gather is football experience along with self-discipline, proper work ethic, and team building skills which are not documented of will make an interviewer “ooohhh” or “aaahhh” @ most jobs. It’s a bigger risk in pursuing a sporting dream as compared to an academic one. They’re on totally different planes.

    • But I never said drop out of school and do nothing but play football.
      You’re still in school but just football is your priority if you want to become a footballer. Just like maths and physics are your priority if you want to become an engineer.
      So if you want to be a footballer, you don’t do 8 csec subjects. Five or six is more than good enough.
      People keep talking about the small percentage who make it as professional athletes, but a small percentage make it in medicine, engineering, etc etc
      The medical school attached to the Mayo clinic… In fall 2015, it accepted LESS THAN 2% of applicants. But if a kids says hey when I grow up, I want to go to the medical school at the Mayo clinic, a parent will say oh great and go research what is necessary to get into that school an led then guide their child’s life towards having the necessary skill set to get into the school.
      If your kid says when I grow up I want to play for Barcelona, your kid is definitely not going to play for Barcelona if you adopt an attitude that is different from the one you had towards the Mayo clinic medical school.

    • What is your point then? Dear?

    • Branch off into anything afterwards if engineering doesn’t work??? Are you kidding me? Smh

    • No Kendall Tull I’m not. What’s so queer about that ?

    • Yes because the fact that you spent years qualifying for one this is not a big deal and you can go be something else like a doctor or an accountant.

      It takes dedication, hard work and some luck to be among the best in any field. Just as their is one Messi, there is only one Yo-Yo Ma.

      Saying that the engineer can branch off into anything is like saying the footballer can always branch off into some other sport like cricket or basketball.

    • That’s far from what I’m saying Kendall Tull. To become an engineer in TnT you must at least have up to A Levels, in some cases up to CSEC will work before going to study Engineering. Not everyone who has the Engineering dream or enter the Engineering classroom will graduate or become a successful engineer. But because they’ve got educational qualifications they can pursue another field, they can chose another profession. This does happen. I don’t see that as the saying a footballer can branch off into another sport.

    • What do you mean by pursue another field? And when? You mean after they’ve attempted engineering school and failed, they can then do something else?

    • Yes Chabeth. Because they’ve got education to fall back on. Whereas, hardly like a sportsman can change profession. Unless you’re MJ, or Kierran Powell, lol

    • Meaning start a whole other course of study?

    • Yes Chabeth. People do this. How difficult is it to become an engineer ?

    • How does that not hold true for a footballer? Barcelona doesn’t want you, try a lower level team. No team wants you, go back to school.
      And you don’t have to wait until you’re 30 to know Barcelona or no other team wants you. You figure that out early enough.

    • If you talking about trying to make Barca, it means you’re quite good so you can always go to a smaller team and live off football. Then what if you become injured Chabeth ? It’s much easier for someone pursuing engineer to survive out here than someone gearing towards football.

    • If you become injured playing football, it’s the same as if you become injured in any job. Some injuries cause career delays. Others end careers.
      Molino is back, isn’t he?
      There are risks in everything. Ppl need to decide how much they are willing to risk. And sport isn’t the only thing that doesn’t guarantee a payoff.
      I know a kid who quit his sport in upper six because he wanted to get an open schol so he could go away to study. He didn’t get it. So he’ll end up here.

    • No point in continuing this discussion because it is not leading anywhere. Have a good day people.

    • I’m not sure if folks can really appreciate the lenght of time and the absolute hard work that is needed to become a pro-footballer. Again, let us not be fooled by the Levi Garcia’s of the world he is unique and in any case his development would have started from prolly 6years old by playing hoping, skipping, jumping ang tag games in school and with kids on his street. His athletic gait, balance, cordination and athleticism were being harnessed from then. Playing small goal on the street or in school when yuh in ABC with boys in standard 1 and 2 amd having to fight to try to get the ball and when you get it having to fight to keep it, that is when a footballers course of study begins. I never no no engineer who began a course of study from 5 and 6. Lol

    • Kester… I think you’re comparing an “average” engineer with a way above average athlete.
      There are kids who want to be scientists who take part in competitions etc from a very young age, go to camps etc etc.
      It takes being a slave to your goal to reach to greatness. So if a parent is going to prevent a child from making the sacrifices that Levi did from the age that Levi did then don’t expect to reach where Levi reached.
      You can’t want to do less than Levi but accomplish the same amount. And if only one in a million is willing to make the sacrifice then talking about the small percentages who make it when you’re not sampling from a pool of people who are willing to do whatever it takes, just doesn’t make much sense to me.
      Tell me instead what percentage of local footballers who sacrificed like Levi did, fail to make it to where Levi has.

    • You are wasting your time Chabeth.

  9. Professional athlete is a profession like any other. And it’s a goal like any other. When a child says I want to be a doctor, lawyer, engineer etc etc, parents support it fully and explain what needs to be done if the child really wants that to happen.
    The same attitude needs to hold true when a kid says he/she wants to be a professional athlete. At least outwardly. If parents want to have back-up plans of which their child knows nothing, then fine, but not wholeheartedly giving a child support creates doubt and doubt is a killer to realising any dream/goal.
    But again, with an education system that makes the demands of 15-18 year olds that ours does, how is anybody supposed to become a world class athlete? If you want to be a professional athlete, why do you have to do 8 csec subjects? Honestly, why can’t you just do five or six? And have free periods to do homework?

  10. Regarding the matter of school vs professional, obviously its not one or the other but must be on a case by case basis. I believe that 100% of the children would take a try at a professional career first but for the blackmailing cost of US$40,000- $60,000 per year for schooling. The cost forces parents to ask the question do I have $200K-$250K to pay for this school if he goes professional and gets injured or should I send him to school on what is guaranteed. Most often the family chooses to take the scholarship, nothing wrong with that. However, the understanding must be that you have essentially eliminating your child from any chance of a top level professional career. The US College Soccer season is 5 months and even top schools like Wake Forest and UVA are playing at an embarrassingly poor level compared to even MLS.

    There are children who are not academically prepared so playing college sports may not be their best option. Taking the risk at a professional career maybe the best option. Furthermore, college is for schooling, their is an education that can be derived from playing international sports with a combination of online learning that can bridge the gap.

    For example; US soccer has a residency program with online components, in addition the Philadelphia Union Academy built a school for its players but also have online options.

    Again, their are families whom have the means and decide I will pay for his formal schooling in the event that his sporting career is not successful.

    The world has changed we should not be limiting our athletes to college vs professional paradigm. The sporting industry has numerous coaching, facility management, player agents, etc. careers that do not require college. Some of these careers can pay at entry level upwards of US$50K while many college graduates first jobs are starting at $US30,000. A master plumber or master carpenter make significantly more over their lifetime than many college graduates. Find each person strength and passion and develop from that starting point.

    A final twist a player in the USA can accept a Division 1 scholarship play for one semester maintain a B average but then opt to go professional. A mechanism is in place for that player if injured and can not fulfill his professional career to return to that University at no cost to complete his education. It is unlikely that this extends to our Pro League Clubs.

    • “A final twist a player in the USA can accept a Division 1 scholarship play for one semester maintain a B average but then opt to go professional. A mechanism is in place for that player if injured and can not fulfill his professional career to return to that University at no cost to complete his education.”

      NCAA scholarships are not guaranteed, but instead are renewable from year to year at the discretion of the school/coaching staff. As such, if a player were to turn pro and subsequently suffer a career-ending injury, the ‘mechanism’ you refer to that would allow him to return to school would be whether the school decides it wants him:

      a) To return.
      b) Return and continue his education for free.

      Important to point that out lest the wrong impression be created in the minds of any aspiring student-athlete reading this.

      • Bakes you are correct that scholarships are renewable from year to year.

        I indicated this is a new mechanism that MLS Clubs are using with a combination of Home Grown Players Contacts, Adidas Generation Contracts and the NCAA thus why I stated it is not likely a player signing with a Pro League Club would be eligible. I am aware of at least 4 players in the USA that are utilizing this option. It is being used by players/MLS/NCAA as a hedge to attract some of the more talented players to a professional environment at a younger age as they realize 4 years of college soccer is not producing the desired quality of player. The NCAA Coach gets a player that normally he would not have gotten for 1 or 2 seasons, the student is guaranteed his degree.

        I apologize for not being clear that it doesn’t pertain to all student-athletes but a specific smaller, one could say elite potential youths that the the MLS, Adidas and the NCAA will make this investment.

        Clarification appreciated

        • No apology necessary Sean, and I appreciate your own elaboration of your point, it is a well-made one, an one I can appreciate now. When you mentioned the athlete returning to school for free I was looking at it from the school’s standpoint, and not from the professional club’s. I’m familiar with the Adidas Generation Next program (though not in any great detail), so yes, that does make sense as there is ‘insurance’ for any of the elite athletes selected for participation. As you indicate however, sadly it’s not an option readily available for most in the US, yet alone for emulation elsewhere.

  11. Narada, u also need to inform readers of this harsh reality too, that only a very small fraction of athletes in any sport make it professionally. In the NBA it is 2-3% of college players make it there. I suspect the figure is about the same for football. Let us not be caught up in the Levi Garcia hype and his million euro payday that is a fleeting illusion for most.

    • That statement has been around for over 15 years, yet the enrolment to universities or turning nba pros has increased, the limited thinker using this to justify fear of taking a risk. With that said then let’s go to more stats.How many of these college players that dont make the nba end up playing at south American leagues, lower us divisions or Europe and earn a better than decent living. Levi is in Europe but don’t think that the other lads in far east and smaller European leagues are starving. Hector survived pretty well for 5 years in Vietnam. My point is the dream is football so do it. Becoming an engineer for example how many end up at BG or BP? Yet no one questions that, THOUGH lots end up on small contracts here and there.

    • Narada, any idea what professional all footballers make in Brazil? We know about the big names but most of those professional players don’t do that well financially. In other words few top players make the money until they are sold to European teams. Then again it depends on what we define as well. But keep in mind, a footballer’s career is relatively short so if you don’t make your money by 30, good luck…. I know kids personally in Brazil that dying to get out of the country partner…

    • Brazil is the same are any other stat. Less that 5 percent make the millions we hear about. Doing well financially is down to management. You are correct the career is short and everyone wishes to leave but dont forget that most wanting to leave are those that didn’t do well at home (in Brazil’s case) if a Brazilian player can get all at home he will stay. Neymar only left because Brazil (economy) couldn’t secure him any more (this i am privileged to) if we can define a structed pathway to football career success, we will not have to question the players choices.

    • I am not against what you are saying but trini is far far away of established football nations

    • for this reason I believe it is much easier to formulate a pathway to success but a few heads must sit together. records must be kept, scouts contacted, clubs informed and monitored, list of universities, clubs etc. we may have 400 players per year fro ssfl, 200 may not care to turn pro. 200 do. 100 can go universities. 100 go pro, super league pro leagues abroad etc. i am being vague so forgive my stats. my point is Im sure with us all here we can find a way for each football to follow his dream regardless of the route.

    • An average footballer (by Brazil standards) would still probably make between US$3,000 to US$20,000 a month in one of how many ever professional divisions they have.
      That’s a wage you can live on.
      An average footballer in Trinidad makes TT$2,500 a month and not sure if he will be paid on time. Even T&T international players get between TT$6,000 and TT$12,000.
      That’s the reality. I’m okay with chasing the dream. But you must know what you are getting into.

    • I don’t think your Brazilian numbers are correct but I can be incorrect as well…

    • According to a study done by CBF in 2012 82% of pro footballers in Brazil received the equivalent of $4500 TT per month (taking into consideration an exchange rate of 3:1). I would say that the proportion probably hasn’t changed but the economic situtation has worsened over there so the irony is, it makes more sense for a Brazilian player to come to the Pro League and earn a $4,000 TT now. The sad thing is those guys too have to live on that wage but your money will go further there. You are right, having the dialogue with players is important because perception really is reality.

    • Okay. It’s worse than I thought. But those CBF figures are for all divisions. And that salary is still almost twice what an average footballer would get in the Pro League.
      And I’d expect that figure would be dragged down by the earnings in the lower divisions. Bear that in mind.

    • When I did a project in university on it it’s like 3 percent in millions Ronaldinho etc at the time. 13 percent make like 5k to 50k us and 84% make less than 3k us.

    • Narada Anthony I see lots of students each year who are studying sports management or marketing. Why? Most sports organizations can’t afford to employ these people and if they could, they’d probably want someone who has already got a network of contacts. So again, only the best 5% may actually use their degree to get a career. Same with Media studies. It is true that education can never be a bad thing but the markets are flooded with people with degrees because GATE offers an easier option to working for some. University education should provide an elite crop of students but I feel that degrees are being devalued. I expect I’ll get shot down for saying this! But employers now have to sift through the applicants to see who really has the potential to add value. Worse for me is that applicants who may be bright and have real drive are not interviewed because they are not academic. In football, an intercol star may not necessarily be a better prospect that a kid who plays every day on the Savannah in Moruga or Carenage. I don’t believe there is a golden formula. But I do believe they need to have a passion to give 100% in one direction. If that may be getting an education first then great. But I don’t think you can do both to maximum effect.

    • Narada Anthony I see lots of students each year who are studying sports management or marketing. Why? Most sports organizations can’t afford to employ these people and if they could, they’d probably want someone who has already got a network of contacts. So again, only the best 5% may actually use their degree to get a career. Same with Media studies. It is true that education can never be a bad thing but the markets are flooded with people with degrees because GATE offers an easier option to working for some. University education should provide an elite crop of students but I feel that degrees are being devalued. I expect I’ll get shot down for saying this! But employers now have to sift through the applicants to see who really has the potential to add value. Worse for me is that applicants who may be bright and have real drive are not interviewed because they are not academic. In football, an intercol star may not necessarily be a better prospect that a kid who plays every day on the Savannah in Moruga or Carenage. I don’t believe there is a golden formula. But I do believe they need to have a passion to give 100% in one direction. If that may be getting an education first then great. But I don’t think you can do both to maximum effect.

    • Precisely Kevin. You’re spot on

    • Precisely Kevin. You’re spot on

    • I agree Kevin. But I think a child younger than 16 cannot make that decision. Between 16 to 18? Maybe. Maybe not.
      After 18? Go brave.

    • Lasana Liburd that’s the point. We’re expecting kids to make lifetime decisions when they’re struggling to decide which jeans to wear! The only sensible solution is an academy environment which allows studying as well as coaching. As an aside, there are dozens of studies worldwide that show that incorporating sport with education produces better exam results. Putting down the books and letting of steam on the field has been proved to benefit students.

    • Okay. I’d agree with that. But since Pro League clubs don’t have infrastructure in place for that, then the only middle ground is for the clubs to partner with the schools. And they have been very reluctant to do so.

    • Lasana Liburd generally, football at any level in T&T seems reluctant to work with the Pro League. And even when we got close, as Keith Look Loy will testify to, progress was stymied by Mr Tim-Kee. More importantly to me is that people from varied backgrounds can have this kind of in depth discussion, treating each other’s comments with respect – even if disagreeing- to try to find a solution. If only we could do the same with politics lol

    • ..But the TTPL also displayed a lack of interest. I distinctly remember going to a meeting at SPORTT headquarter, supposedly to meet the TTPL clubs and the then minister, only to find that we, the NSL clubs, were there alone, with only you, Kevin, in attendance. YOU were interested but I can’t say the TTPL was..

    • Keith Look Loy lol. Yes I remember. Sheldon Phillips was there too. The TTPL rep had forgotten!

  12. I have read all the comments and support a few. The harsh reality is the great players spend more time with the ball. At under 20 level one has to make the hard decision. Europe’s reality is by 16 if you good you go pro if not you have 2 years to make it and if not then you are out. South America is almost the same. North America gives the university option but this benefits only their leagues. After university in the US no player really signs a big contract to a top club outside the US. Our lads and people have to change our sporting culture and understand the choice that needs to be made. A good education can come at any age. A 70 year old can start a university so while I support getting the education I believe we need to accept the reality of sport. Putting sport as the plan b is the reason why we are b rated until we accept that if we spend the same 6 hours on the field as in a class to get an A grade on the field also. The world is harsh but the great ones succeed and the others fall short. We accept someone with a good education working a menial job but not a good footballer missing out at playing for the biggest club. It’s all about the dream while we applaud the lads who have a plan to fall back on I will also add they may have needed that plan but we can call names of person we know in that same bush that did not need that back up plan

  13. ..Sadly, a career in the TTPL is the preserve mainly of those who can’t or won’t do better. And by that I mean can’t or won’t find better employment due to a lack of formal education and/or training. They bounce around the league and then fall out of the league essentially no better off, in life terms, than they were when they entered. I have advised more than one TTPL player to improve their education and/or training and to play football at the same time in whatever league. Professional football in Trini cannot secure a player’s future.

    • I agree. Pro players are woefully underpaid. But earning money and securing a future are two different things. How many pros around the world earn good money and leave football broke after spending their cash on flash cars and mansions? Footballers like every occupation are comprised of a cross section of the community. Some save, some spend. 50 people could enter Petrotin at age 18 but by age 35 many may have left or are still in the same job while only one or two would make it to mid level management.

    • ..Steady pay? Health insurance? Professional counseling? Pensions?..

    • Case in point. H Arcia. He left Wcon in great form and would definitely have been called to the nt. Took about 7 months off the game (army) now he is at TTDF. All of the above are secure. Now, while it will take a while to regain his past form, and even get back on the NT, at least his future is secure. Another example is M Phillip. Yes he is and will be on the national team for maybe 5 more years. Does not look like he will be getting his big payday. He left the Army. What next for him after if he has not put things in place before?

    • Good point on Arcia Kirwin Weston Roneil K Walcott

  14. Our education system really does not lend itself to sporting excellence. Which is part of the reason why, especially in individual sports, you would see that the athletes who do better, are the foreign based or foreign born athletes.
    Just saying…

    • Not sure the educational system drives sporting excellence, or is supposed to.. OR did I miss your point?

    • We have a myriad of sports associations in this country with big budgets and I would submit they need to drive sporting excellence.

    • The demands of our education system prevent athletes from investing the amount of time that they need to in order to each the pinnacle of their respective sports.
      We have exams in standard 5, form 3, form 5, lower 6, and upper 6.
      By form 5, kids are supposed to be really serious about their sport. How are you going to do that if you have three consecutive years of serious exams ahead of you? Not to mention all the SBAs etc that have to be done throughout the year.
      How many of the great sporting nations have those kind of educational demands. The US certainly does not.
      A lot of the great athletes make their decision to prioritise their sport over education long before they become great. How many of the top ten footballers in the world today have a college degree? For how many of them, was it even a thought?

    • I’m not advocating for anybody to say to hell with their education. Just saying, if you want to be great, you have to pick your master early. Some people take the gamble. Others play it safer.
      But don’t expect to excel in sport and academics. It’s a rarity. Not the norm.

    • I hear you, however, I think work ethic and organization (time management and prioritization) can trump the educational demands.. Dont you think England probably has just as many demands??

    • I don’t know that they have the form 3 exam, but our system is patterned after theirs so there will be similarities.
      But again, how many of their great athletes, excelled in academics. And do we consider English a great sporting nation? Outside of football and cricket, how many sports are they dominant in? Track and field? Gymnastics?
      Are they even dominant in football? How many of the top ten footballers now are English? Idk. Asking…

    • The Premiership is comprised of mainly English players and is considered top tier. They do well in Womens Football as well, and certainly have had their share of success in athletics, boxing, badminton and netball.. Cant win ’em all..

    • And I don’t disagree that work ethic and organisation etc play a part, but if my kid comes home from school and does nothing but homework and revision and your kid goes from school to practice and then has to come home to school related stuff, doesn’t my kid have an advantage with respect to school? Assuming the kids are of equal intelligence, we’d expect my kid to do better in school cause he/she has more time and energy to put into it. No?
      Just saying parents have to be realistic about expectations. That’s all.

    • Overseas scholarships in my opinion certainly develop the individual better holistically. This does improve attitudes to self discipline and focus to professionalism. It is true that every club wants to secure the next Dwight Yorke but then every overseas college coach is more interested in football than education too! It really is an individual choice that clubs should support. We don’t get it right every time but we have examples to consider. Dwight Pope would have been a national team player by now but he chose to leave Central to go to college in USA. We supported it. Ricardo John is a similar example. Alternatively Nathaniel Garcia just did not enjoy his college experience. We paid his return flight and he is a big prospect for the national team. The thing is, if we’re honest, the decisions we all made at age 18 may not have been the right ones looking back. It’s a huge pressure for a youngster and parents coaches and teachers must assist these young boys. TTFA has stated their position, which is helpful. Their first consideration has to be the development of their teams to percolate through to the senior team. Regardless of other countries situations, we want T&T to compete at the highest level. If a boy can’t fit into that position at this time that’s fair enough. We may not be as professional as other countries but at least TTFA are trying to instil that attitude. Not one is being forced to do anything. But you can’t have your cake and eat it. If your dream is education, then follow it. But if you want to represent T&T, this is what they want to see.

    • Right. And how many of the tops athletes excelled in school or went on to college? That’s what we need to know.

    • Depends on the kid and the quality of both his education and sport coach ing..

    • Agreed, Kevin. But the TTFA stating that position when the president of the TTFA owns a club and the coach works at the same club, I think is intimidatory. It could have been much better phrased so as not to seem threatening.

    • Can you confirm what are the coaching standards required in the Pro League Kevin Harrison?? Senior and Reserve team levels.. Just curious

    • Chabeth Haynes well yes. Clearly David would be happy if they all signed for W but I don’t think that was his aim. I remember when Hart wouldn’t select Marcus Joseph if he wasn’t in Pro League. I’m sure Hart has no opposition to Super League but he obviously believed that Joseph needed more than he could get from semi pro football.

    • We need schools specifically for our athletes. With boarding facilities for those who need.
      And with an education system/calendar designed around their sport.
      Sometimes kids have to leave in the middle of the school term for national team duties and teachers get vex and boof them. Lol
      But that would be a lot of politics and fighting to get to be the coach so that is another pressure.

    • Brian Jordan I think coaches should have a minimum of UEFA 3 or similar. But the truth is that owners will choose a coach who they believe can win games. Maybe only Connection, Jabloteh, Caledonia and Rangers take their youth programmed really seriously. It takes several years to create a vibrant programme. The rest of us aspire to those clubs. The truth is that our best coaches should be working with our youngest players. But when you’re struggling financially to field a pro league team you resources are prioritized there. That’s the reality. I would have loved to have kept Anthony Anthony Sherwood at Central but it was too time consuming for him and then man needs to earn a decent living! Kevin Jeffrey is doing well with our U18s but we need more Sherwoods and Jeffries in our system.

    • Chabeth it’s well and good for a specialized education system for athletes, but, the product (the athletes) MUST be of high quality. That is the major drawback hampering footballers in T&T. On average, we produce NASL, or maybe England’s 4th or 5th division footballers at best. That quality produced wouldn’t change anytime soon.

    • Why though Kirwin? Why are we producing players who would be in England’s 4th or 5th division? I don’t think it’s because we’re inherently less talented.
      I’m saying I think it’s because we have an educational system and a parental culture that doesn’t allow kids to be dedicated to their sport in a way that they need to be in order to get to 1st division.
      I was reading up earlier today on Barcelona’s youth academy (La Masia? Not sure if I’m remembering correctly)
      Messi, Iniesta and company didn’t go there because school was their priority. Nobody there is going to school all day, then going to lessons, and thinking they’re going to be a great footballer. Nobody’s missing practice because they have an SBA to do or because they have test the next day. And certainly nobody’s parent is banning them from practice for some nonsense.
      Apparently there are kids from as young as six years old there. If you dedicate yourself to anything from age 6, and make that your priority, by the time you get to 18, you’d be pretty damn good I think.
      How many kids here make their sport their number one priority from the age of 6?

    • Chabeth they’re other factors and resources influencing what you’re saying. For example culture towards, level of competition, financial resources, coaching expertise, playing experience and other expertise to make that work. You should read up more on La Masia, although it’s not relevant to us because we’re a long shot off.

    • Such a culture will take maybe half a century or a century to inculcate of we start now Chabeth

    • Idk how long it will take, but none of those other factors matter if you don’t have a dedicated pool of young athletes to begin with in the first place.

    • Talent is not the issue, culture and structure is. What I’m saying is through such a school/schools may not be the answer. We constantly look and compare Trinidad and sport and don’t take into consideration how unique this society is.

    • Ok. Maybe a school like that isn’t the answer even though it works across Europe.
      But another system, completely different from what exists now, that encourages kids to be wholeheartedly dedicated to their sport needs to take root of people really want to give these kids a chance to reach the top level.
      That’s the point I’m trying to get across.

    • Kirwin, I get your point but I do think you are under rating the standard of our players. If there were no work permit restrictions I’m certain that we could place at least a dozen pro league players in the Scottish Premier League or the English Championship. Certainly League 1 clubs would appreciate many of the locals on the squad vs Grenada. I remember when we brought Walsall over. We arranged for Jem Gordon to play for them. They had a couple of new signings. Jem scored s couple of goals for Walsall and their club secretary was very happy. He thought Jem was one of his new signings! And Jem had not played Pro League football at that point. The Walsall coach said he would have liked to carry several players back. Former Chelsea coach Graham Rix said T&T is a goldmine of talent. He said while there were definite deficiencies in areas such as first touch, positional awareness and focus, they can be coached. What can’t be coached is natural athleticism, size, pace and natural flair. Our guys have these in abundance.

    • Chabeth Haynes the reason why USA has emerged in football is because parents put so much effort into their kids. The soccer mum phenomenon is what made US soccer what it is today. Not just the national men and women but as a recreational and spectator sport. Who would have thought that “soccer” could challenge NBA, gridiron and baseball?

    • Kirwin, I covered UK football from amateur to Premiership between 2003 and 2006. I think the standard has gone up a bit with the extra cash these days… But at the time, I said any Pro League player could make English third division which is England League One.
      And the top Pro League players could squeeze their way into Championship teams.
      So I think you might be a bit harsh there. 🙂
      I think most Trinidad Pro League players could make a living off football if they had British passports, even with the inferior football educations they get here.
      Third tier. Granted. But they’d still be full professionals.

    • Respected Kevin and Lasana. I find what you’re saying hard to believe but I’ll accept it because you guys know and have seen first hand. My point in the comment was that in order for better sustenance of sport, we need to produce higher quality athletes.

    • I’m speaking generally of the entire league eh Lasana not the select few that stand out. Not even MLS we constantly produce players for. Hence my benchmark.

    • We have had many players who could have played in the MLS. The MLS offered crap contracts to us. They preferred more marketable players essentially and they want to pay Caribbean players less than they would get in other parts of the world. It isn’t about talent.
      Pro league clubs did very well against MLS teams until they changed our league calendar, which means that we are in our off season and they are in the last rung of their domestic seasons when we clash.

    • We were much more competitive before and we would get a win here and there and even a draw against mexican teams ever so often. You don’t remember Joe Public eliminating New England Revolution over two leagues when they were MLS champs at the time?
      Although the Pro League was a wee bit stronger then to be honest. But still a lot of Trini players. Jamal Douglas was fresh out of the SSFL then and he did well in that clash with New England.

    • Lasana Liburd didn’t Jabloteh tear apart Chicago Fire in front of more than 10,000 at HC around 2007?

    • Yes. Once in 10 seasons, maybe twice if Jabloteh’s elimination of Chicago Fire, but that could always be attributed to talent or luck rather consistency and quality of players from a league

    • Not once in 10 seasons at all Kirwin Weston. Look closer at that period with clashes between Pro League and MLS. I can probably check myself tomorrow.

    • Twice Lasana ? Lol. But can you definitely attribute or correlate those victories and successes to the generally quality of our league and calibre of players ?

    • In football, money is directly related to success. Pro League teams then spent about US$20,000 a month. That wouldn’t even pay the monthly salary of the MLS franchise player alone.
      Now look at that and watch the scores again and I think they were very respectful largely up until the change in calendar set up Pro League clubs to fail.

    • You make me laugh. That’s a whole new discussion =D

    • Yes. I don’t think the US generally has players that we would drool over.
      They have decent technique generally and tactical discipline. That’s just a polished goat to me. Lol.
      Put one of those LA Galaxy men here and let Jason Marcano, Nathan Lewis or Neil Benjamin Jr run at him and see for yourself. And none of the players I called are on our national team.

    • Lasana Liburd That’s a whole new topic. But I’ll take yours and Kevin’s word that our “products” (players) are good enough to the levels you all have stated.

    • You can teach a Pro League player how to understand his role better and so on in a season or two. Enough to survive in the lower tier. But remember you can’t teach athleticism and creativity.
      Some players were not even stars here and went away and did very well for themselves.
      Jason Scotland might be more critical than me though. Although he might not have seen Pro League games in a while.
      How do we fit in Scottie? What division would Pro League players play at if at all?

    • Lasana Liburd Can’t say as I have not seen a game in years. Surly it have players could make the grade.

  15. Interesting discussion. I am not privy to the thinking of TTFA, but I’m wondering if those comments were based on a desire to compete at the highest level? Wether a lad wants to put education first or not may not be the real issue. If you are building a squad of 25 players you tend to build the style of play and tactics around a couple of key players. If you do this, practice, train and practice again and then your key players decide they are flying out for a scholarship or taking extra studies or just don’t want it enough to attend every session, then your whole preparation is damaged. It’s ok having schoolboys play against St Lucia, but when we play Mexico some of those boys will have played professional football for 3 years. In Europe you are considered too old at 19 to start a football career. So it’s up to what the individual wants. Working with Leston and Sean I believe that both of them could have made it outside if they had their chance at 18. But they have their lives on track. Educated, well travelled, well mannered and comfortable in interviews etc. they are good examples for young players. But they are the exception. I do believe that both Williams were not suggesting the lads start a pro league career and forget education. I think they want the players to take advantage of the physical and mental benefits of playing with a decent club. There is a massive difference between school football and pro football. Personally, I would have approached pro league clubs and asked them to accept 3 or 4 lads to train with the 1st teams and play in the Reserve league. Then when the U20s train, perhaps the guys following their education may not be such an issue as the others would have stepped up. Of course you can’t hide natural talent, but if you’re half a yard behind the pace it will show. When you are properly fit, the game is much easier to play. But in the end it’s down to joined up thinking. TTFA have a grant to build a centre of excellence. The only thing stopping them is red tape inside the govt. Govt must join with football to encourage better development that will allow our youths to excel in football while following their studies. Also, as a warning to youngsters – just because you stand out at 18 doesn’t mean you will make it big in football. Look at Bostock. Next big thing at 16, but he peaked at 17 and is now struggling to earn a living out of football. Conversely look at Vardy. Played and played until he reached the Premier League. The only real exception I can think of is Ian Wright who didn’t turn pro until age 23. Anthony Sherwood if you had signed for a big European pro club at 18, would you have said no and taken a scholarship instead?

    • Your points are very well taken and stated. Let’s be honest and realistic Kevin, selling overseas professional contracts to most of the kids you guys dealing with is a pipe dream. To compare trini to England, Brazil and Mexico is apples to oranges. For every Levi, there are hundreds that don’t make it. Agreed, if given a chance to go pro in Europe at 18 vs a football scholarship is a no brainer for most. But the reality is that is a rarity. I agree with you about peaking early vs a late bloomer though. It bodes well for clubs like Central to sell that pipe dream but it is also smart for kids to set realistic expectations for themselves. Remember less than 1% of athletes make it to the pro ranks and with all due respect, our professional league is really a semi-pro league.

    • Kevin, Brent..I also agree in principle with both your points. Where I dither, is on quality coaching in the Pro League. What is the standard? Do coaches have to have some minimum qualification in the senior level and also at the reserve level? I think we have to realize that some pro league teams have good to decent coaching standards and others do not. If a kid commits to a club where coaching is “sub-standard”, or where he may not get to play, it could also negatively impact their ambitions, their morale, and ultimately, their ability to make it into the national team colors. It’s an imperfect world, so let’s give non pro-leaguers an equal shot and let the coach decide if they have the requisite quality.

    • I remember Jomal Williams representing Trinidad and Tobago at two age group competitions while he was W Connection. He started both times as the star. In each case, he had lost his place to school boys before the tournament was over and when the pressure was really on.
      Similarly, they lecturing Pappy. But Pappy knows damn well that he schools those Pro League Youth Team players when they meet up all the time.
      T&T football has problems for sure. But the Pro League doesn’t have all the answers either.
      So we have got to be flexible.

    • I don’t mean to pick on Jomal because he is a talented boy. And I’m sure there have been other examples. The point is the Pro League isn’t doing as well as it should either and should not be too condescending.

  16. A few things. I like the concept of the TTFA President addressing the youth players on their first day, and setting a “tone”. I am aghast that we continue to “rush” preparation (two months is rushing) and do not seem to have a robust enough scouting mechanism in place. Lastly, we also have to be very careful of the apparent conflict of interest here. It may never go away once DJW, or any other club affiliated person is President.. As always, we will need good luck and super efforts on all levels to succeed and get to World Cup!!

  17. This is a little sickening. It’s is a short sighted approach. To imply that school should take a back seat is crazy. Saying it is unfair to give a student who is preserving his ability to go on to university or to perform at his best in exams the same chance as a student who is not…..? When your brilliant career is ended due to no fault of your own (injury or bad mind from a coach) what next? CEPEP? Nah we have to encourage our youth to reach higher and go further! We can’t hold them back to make ourselves feel better!!
    We dominate and the younger ages and that does not translate to the senior levels…..it stands to reason that our players are not making the transition from youth football successfully.

  18. 1 player you can use as an example is weah adams he broke his foot in u20 training since 2014 his mom called me she said he was never treated or taken care of by ttfa or tha she asked me 2 help him cause I went 2 tobago and met his parents in 2014 its such a shame how you represenrt your country and once your stint is over they cast you out like a old horse waiting 2 be shot

  19. What happen to Qrc’s Jadel Poon-Lewis, Jahrique Stewart and Adrian Constantine?

    • The national selection process has been poor. Maybe that was partly because there was a change in the TTFA since the last SSFL season.
      Despite that there are enough former national players and coaches at SSFL teams to ensure that the current coach knew who the best talent were.
      Still, sometimes it is about opinion and coaches might want something different than what a particular player possesses.
      The guys just have to keep their heads up and keep working hard and not take it personally. There have always been players who didn’t represent their country much or at all at youth level but went on to be big successes later on.
      Carlos Edwards and Kerwin Jemmott are two such players.

  20. Wired868 I have a question, when these young men sign with these pro clubs do they loose NCAA eligibility? And why is helping. These youths see scholarship outside not being an option for these SSFL players.

  21. Theres a few problems with what he said 1. Are you saying pro league more important than schooling. 2 Academies are useless and players should play for pro league clubs or there youth clubs. 3 .who is therefor picking the squad the coach or the president. In my opinon they al have there role , obviously schooling important look at Man U,s startlet he is playing top flight football.but still at school , mabye the pro league and the seconary schools need to adopt some kind of partnership. Also is it not a players choice who he plays for and if he perfoms then he merrits his place wether its an academy or not.

    • And these clubs will never set up proper academies to provide proper schooling for there players

    • Well mabye someone has to . Its been my goal since ive been here but financially its a huge task

    • This is why I ask the question about the loss NCAA eligibility. To me I feel there is more exposure at the US collegiate level than a youth man to sign up with a pro league team at 16. I am a bit disappointed in this setup. James I am with you as well academics first. TTFA should be encouraging this. I listening to a local radio station today. A young man was at the station to be commended for a good deed he performed. They ask the young man he want to be when he grow up? He said a footballer. He then went on to say he plays for his school team and jabloeth. Now he is 16 but never make a under something national team. I don’t want to shoot down a youth man dreams but he should be explained options and reality.

  22. I feel it for the players who are on their way to picking up scholarships with US universities. These players may have been waiting for years to wear the red, white and black and to now be put into a position where they can’t even join a Youth Pro League team because the U18s division this year is allowing for Reserve players to be on the roster. I hope a resolution is brought forward soon but this is another call for proper policies regarding youth development in Trinidad and Tobago.

    • Very true Sherron. The list of players who chose to take up scholarships in the past and would have missed out: Anthony Sherwood, Kirk Trotman, Shawn Boney, Julius James, Leston Paul, Sean De Silva…

    • So taking up a US scholarship means “ba-bye” to your international career until you graduate? Sad.

    • These folks don’t care about our players future or really have their interest at heart, hence the reason why I always use to advice our players about using the football to get an education first, especially when you have the brains for the books eh, and after they get their degrees then onto the next step to play professional football if they have real professional quality to do so and the players that is not on the books but only on the football/sports put your all to make it professionally but while you are doing so make certain that you learn a trade or something that in case of injuries especially eh, you have something to fall back on. I have seen to many players that gave their all for our sweet country both the National teams and Pro teams and today they have nutten but instead many of them in the drugs business, security work, or they themselves ended up on the drugs, while the Coaches got their high while coaching,wining trophies and colecting their big pay checks and the owners like the corrupted Jack Warner and David John-williams became millionaires because of the football in our sweet country. Them really good yes.

    • Is it true….Skeene to head Technical Comm and Isa. Technical Director ?

    • Yeah I think that Skeene is the Head Technical Comm but I don’t know if any Technical Director was appointed as yet eh. Them really good yes.

  23. Youths can lose their scholarship opportunities if they get paid by these clubs ….to risk one’s scholarship options for these pro teams is ludicrous …lawd Williams you’re such an asshole!

  24. The focus on getting youths into Pro League teams is strictly about business and clubs and the Administration trying to monetize talent. Why are we so intent in narrowing the pool. As someone stated Tobago has no Pro League Teams, so are you telling the talented of any age that they have to join a team in Trinidad to be even given a chance for their talent to be viewed. Wrong focus. I have always said that the focus on established teams is stunting football in Trinidad. Scouts should be trying to find talent in all the nooks and crannies in Trinidad and Tobago and the structure should make it possible to unearth them and give them a fair chance.

  25. Best we did leave Tim kee this man in a mess swear ?

  26. If we didn’t allow kids to study school work AND play once they are good enough, out last World Cup captain would have never gotten a chance. Leston Paul.
    I will make an addition to story with his example Brent Bennett. he has a geography degree that he plans to use to get a job at Petrotrin as soon as he is finished with Central FC or wherever he ends up.

    • Always admired that kid from afar. For some people is football or bust and for them and others it may work. But for intelligent young men like Leston Paul, Sean Desilva and others they have given themselves options to be successful in life.

    • I wanted Leston Paul to go pro as a teenager too. I thought he was good enough. But I have to respect his choice.
      And most importantly, I cannot penalise him for his choice. Once the player is good enough, he must play. Whether I like the fact that he is playing in the SSFL or not.

    • Yeah that is nonsense. A player is a player. Truthfully I know it is different today that when I played but the training on the national team was a whole other level compared to school or club. Nowadays I know the clubs do a lot but of you look at our talent, our players lack basic technical skill.

    • its a very tough decision. I also chose to go to college instead of going pro. And i assure you, singing that anthem is the best feeling you will ever have. But, everyone is not the same. For example, compare lets say De Sil to JL Roch. many players had the chance to go to college after U20 WC but some chose not to. Bottom line is, you cannot fault a player for going after their dreams. and you also cannot fault a player for securing their future first.

    • Agreed Jamal Wiggins.. that anthem playing in that red shirt is poor raising. Been there done that too

  27. Nigel Myers, I often wonder if Dwight Yorke would have made it in this era. There is no Tobago Pro League club and in 2014 there was no Tobago team in the SSFL top division either. National coaches have avoided Tobago for years.
    By going there when you already have whittled your team down to 25 players, it means the Tobago player has to work harder for his pick than the Trinidad players.

    • Tobago could do so much more! With bare finances… their [3] three Super League clubs struggle when they could unite to be a very formidable unit, with proper youth system and large island following. RIP to Tobago United#

    • Dwight would have still made it, but probably not at an early age unless he moved to Trinidad. Recently we’ve had Keon Daniel, Daneil Cyrus, Trevin Caesar, and Rundell Winchester. There’s also the possibility of Shane Sandy, if he gets the chance.

    • Shandy and Winchester had to come to Trinidad to be even spotted. And that should not be the case at all.
      Rundell is the perfect example of how poor our scouting is.
      Ross Russell went to Tobago for a weekend and held a trials, just like Brian Williams plans to, and came back and said nothing to report.
      That U-20 team crashed out in the Caribbean phase. A month later, the Toyota Classic competition was held and Stokely Vale showed up with 18 year old Rundell Winchester who was scoring for fun against the Pro League teams. And Central signed him and the rest is history.
      It shows, Nicholas Lochan, how important the Super League is as the only competition that still allows Tobago teams to participate.

    • Slight correction Lasana. Winchester was actually seen in Tobago by a Match Commissioner who was close to Central FC and a recommendation was made. The rest is history.

    • Norris Ferguson Next time call names because Wired deals with facts. It’s not many match commissioners 🙂

    • Nicholas I am sure the name was called. ??

    • following up on the neglect of Tobago it is true that not enough attention is given to the sister isle. I’d like to see a pro league game played over there to encourage youngsters. Winchester, Darren Mitchell, Dario Holmes and Jem Gordon were spotted by Central. Jamal Jack is also a product of Tobago. So is Cyrus. So it’s clear there is real untapped talent over there.

    • Firstly we would have to assume that the person looking knows what to look for. Lasana

    • Trials are almost by definition rigged against the kids trying out though. So they don’t even start on equal footing.
      What would be fairer is to hold a two day screening session in each zone and start training the following week. Having a national session with over 60 players is a joke.

    • yeah and that is the dangerous part about the professional coaches and owners of the Professional teams who are now part of the TTFA and are the ones who are calling the shots about who can make the national teams eh, and as I always say that it is a conflict in interest and the President should always be neutral, no ties..Them really good yes

  28. Seems they have sumn personal against Pappy boi smh

  29. The Pro league Clubs want rights for the players, that why they are asking them to join clubs, Which Club Brian Williams came from again? just asking

  30. Forget what it means to people, focus on what it means to that kiddddd, when kids reach to these pinnacles at a young age, it sometimes saves them, u never know what a kid may be going through on a daily basis, football might b all he has

    • Agreed….but anyone that putting all their eggs in one basket is not very smart

    • Could u just come out of your shoes for 1 minute, think how a 18yr old kid would think, remember wen u had a dream, boy all yuh eggs, marbles, mango, plum, chennet, ping pong, corn curls going in that 1 basket

    • Sorry I never thought that way even at 18. I had strong parents to guide me and I will not apologize for that

    • Clearly the young man in question (Papi) doesn’t have all his eggs in one basket as you claim. He should be commended for focusing on his exams as a 5th former and not made to look as the butt of someone’s somewhat misguided expectation. The young man seems really wanting to represent the red, white, and black, but, at the same time, he also has other great expectations for himself. Take a bow Papi! I admire your courage.

    • Well football doesnt start and end with u, Mexico for instance, their best players come from d slums, they hav have no parents, all they have is d dream to guide them, and they dont even have a basket to put d eggs

    • And so are many in Brazil. But players in Mexico and Brazil come come a dime a dozen. And truthfully most of our kids will NOT make it professionally. So this nonsensical notion of pro football or bust when kids can have other options is ludicrous

    • I totally agree that pro football or bust is crap, but these boys nèed to live their dreams, and if football is 1 of their dreams, then we have to hold their hands and guide them

    • Now that I agree with. But we should always encourage kids to do both. Ask my boy Jerren Nixon if academics is not important to him and his son… he’ll tell yuh that he wish he had people to push him academically….

    • Brent spoke to Nixon tonight – man is still kicks yes, but you’re right – he is not messing about with his son and his academics…he’s committed to UVA and is dead serious about him doing well in his football and getting that degree. UVA as you know, is a top university, it’s virtually impossible to get in there academically these days.

    • Yeah Anthony Sherwood he and I spoke at length about that last year. Virginia is a dream school and I hope his son does very well both academically and in football. Because as you know, UVA is an MLS pipeline…. he can have success in both environments.

    • Brent Bennett – seriously? Nixon’s son is at UVA? Impressive. Very impressive. Class school, both in terms of football/soccer and academics. Really hope he does well. What position does he play? Is he in the Tnt player pool or the US?

    • Heading there in the fall.. He played for us in the U17 Concacaf tournament last year and he got called into the u20 camp that is upcoming.

    • Nice. Thanks for the update. Will be monitoring his progress at UVA. You know Trinis always do well in the state of Virginia?

    • It’s a good state for us apparently lol….

    • One caveat Cyrus. Mexico and Brazil have professional leagues where you can earn a decent living in any of about three divisions. That means hundreds of their footballers will earn a living.
      In Trinidad and Tobago, it might be less than a dozen in an entire generation. It actually is a viable industry in those countries and it is not here.

  31. I am not knocking a kid for playing for his national team. Shoot, I played and wanted nothing more than that as a kid. But fact is, it is small glory. If it really meant something to people we wouldn’t treat our former players the way we do. These guys would be adored and wouldn’t have to pay to get into the stadium to watch a game. The game has given so much to me and what I remember most is what i accomplished from my success in using the game, “education”. It put me on the path to be successful.

  32. This whole dilemma would be avoided if we had an effective and efficient scouting network. Imagine after all these years Tobago is still an afterthought. Country areas as well.

  33. If u can seriously say to a kid, that playing for his National team is small glory then u never had a footballing dream, making a comparison about gaining contracts in 1990 as compared to now, is totally ridiculous. If a kid has a dream, let him live for his dream, and that needs to be drilled into the parents head also, what i dont agree with, is giving a kid and the general public d impression that playing with a pro league club is some sort of a criteria for selection and a measuring stick for ability. I never played intercol football and when i was discovered there was nothing faster, stronger, fitter, sharper, or wiser than me on the training field

  34. Pro League going to be around next year?

  35. I would rather my child go to a proven academy rather than join a pro club down there. The case being I’m paying for a service and individual attention.

  36. Playing for the disorganized national youth team is small glory. Focus on your academics kids. How many former national team players fall by the wayside? these administrators and coaches are beyond clueless. In 1990 Bertille was preaching we get to the WC and pro contrats will come. Last I checked only one man got a deal outside of trini (Nixon). Eveyone else ended up either on scholarship to small schools or plying their trade locally to no real avail. It is ridiculous advice and I hope they have strong parents. These kids are being bullied, quite frankly

  37. He single out Pappy cause he might be the next Levi Garcia. Btw who getting a sell on fee for Levi?

  38. i just can’t believe Shane Sandy from Naparima College was not considered on this team because he’s not attached to a local club….what is these coaches thinking…

  39. What manner of sorcery I’m reading here about? As President you single out a young man because he choose to focus on his academics at 16/17 years old? No wonder many of our youths seem lost and hopeless.

    • For real Junior. The same president who hesitated to cover the medical cost of a potentially career ending injury to one of his young players. What would become of that player if he fails to fully recover from that injury? Smh

  40. The TTFA president is trying to save face when he says that they won’t only select players who play with pro league teams. It seems to be the ‘norm’ to do so as most people know, even at the U-17 level . I had an experience when i was the age of 16 and yes there was a screening but the coaches paid zero attention to the players during a practice match in the session and the players selected though all were excellent players were from the likes of Jabloteh and W Connection some of whom weren’t even at the tryouts but were pre selected. I really hope they do not over look the great talents that were displayed in the SSFL last season especially the new additions in Mr. Rullow, Pappy and St.Hillaire

  41. if you are a good player you can be in primary school and play for a national team age and status is not a requirement to make a natuonal team look at freddy adu he was 15 and played in u20 WC for usa tiwice and he was not even a pro at the time

  42. Hmm, I just want to see the best possible Under 20 team representing the Red, White and Black. :/

  43. When these coaches and the President talking eh, one really have to have one of those tape recorders hidden on them eh, because they isn’t telling the TRUTH and didn’t I read in one of your stories before that Coach Hart said that same thing eh Lasana Liburd about players cannot make our national senior team if they are not playing for any pro league team eh, so I guess this was agreed on a very long time ago eh and what is the TTFA President David John-williams doing there at the practice questioning these young players for eh. it seems as though he is also the new Technical Director or what eh, Them really good yes.

    • I believe players should seek out the highest level to play at. But I don’t think it should be a hard and fast rule. If a player is good enough, he should play for the national team once he can play at the required speed.
      The president said there is no rule that says the player must play in the Pro League. So I’d take him at his word there.

    • So why was these questions asked by the President eh, if that is so, like the person who was present and heard the conversation is spreading rumors or what eh. Them really good yes.

    • Okay, the guy said what he heard. And the president said what they really meant. It just depends on who you want to give the benefit of the doubt to

    • Well I believe that it was really said eh, because I have heard and also read that in one of your stories before. Them really good yes.

    • I remember back in the days eh, some of our players who was attending the universities in the America eh, use to get the time of to return to our sweet country and represent our national teams eh, so why is it so different now for them to do the same thing eh, maybe they all have to complete their university careers like Leston Paul and Sean De Silva and then return to our sweet country to represent a Professional team eh, and then make the senior national team ent Dion Sosa. Them really good yes.

    • What coach and the president did was wrong, if they have an official policy concerning selection to national teams it should be put out to the public, you don’t, call up youths and question and make suggestion to them in the absence of their parents, some of these kids are still in school.

    • Well they all know that our players are vulnerable like themselves nah when they also use to represent our national teams and play for free and a box of chicken and chips and a red solo eh, so they always try to bambozel their heads with their own agendas. I remember one time back in the days in Brooklyn when I started the Players Association and defending the rights of our players. The Caribbean Cup that started in 1992, country vs country eh, and the organizers was making over $ 100, 000 US in the summer time from May to Sept 1st and the players wasn’t getting any monies for representing our sweet country while the organizers had their expensive cars, homes, and always going to the bank smiling after every Sunday eh, so I was causing plenty havoc for the players to be payed until one time a player told me “Mango” it isn’t about the monies nah, it is about representing our sweet country I look him straight in his eyes and I said alyuh “Trinis” will never change that box of chicken and chips and a red solo mentality eh, and he wasn’t even working either eh, so a little change after each game I know would have helped him because he use to have to travel from New Jersey every Sunday to play the game and many times he like many others didn’t even have monies to buy something to eat eh, and after that I stop fighting for them and let them continued to be exploited and abuse while I took my loyal players to play in the Haitain money league in New Jersey to make some monies after each game and today after 22 yrs the Caribbean Cup have been in existence that madness is still happening and hence the reason why the Jamaican team have won the tournament 11 times, six times back to back, St Vincent won 5 times, Grenada I think about 6 times and that was because they will send for their national players from their sweet country put them in house and also pay them eh, while the Trini organizers always wanted our players to play for free hoping to win the prize monies and then share it up steuuppss and this was the reason we only won it 1 time in 1994 and still continues to do the same madness today. Them really good yes.

    • What caused many of players to lose the zeal to play although all had potential was the self same lack of money. To have had to choose between working and practice after work or on off days took sacrifice. Players had to put out (money and time) but, wasn’t being fully recompensed so the crop of potential players gradually dried up. The newer generation are now benefitting from the commercialism of Football in the U.S.

  44. If I’ve counted correctly, I think this is about blunder #9 for this administration.

  45. Lasana, it sounds like you need to talk directly to Brian Williams.

  46. Yeah sign for a pro Club asap so we can sell you to the highest bidder asap..if yuh good that is…steups

  47. Should the sport be more important than education to a student athlete? Most of the players are still in school aren’t they?