Is goalkeeping in trouble in Trinidad and Tobago?
I think so and I’ll offer a bit of evidence: We no longer have any goalkeepers playing in the top European leagues. This means our goalkeepers are not exposed to top quality strikers, coaching and tactical systems.
In the past we had Shaka Hislop, Clayton Ince, Anthony Warner and myself playing at a decent level in the UK. Playing at a quality level improves every aspect of your game and is crucial for your development and experience.
Those who know me personally know my ultimate ambition is to manage the national side to a World Cup final. Only time will tell whether I get that opportunity or not but I’m confident in my ability to do so.
I’ve always been a keen follower of Trinidad and Tobago football and now that I’m compiling my coaching qualifications in the UK, I’m looking at the game more analytically. I’m looking at all levels and leagues: Secondary Schools Football League (SSFL), Pro League, national at every stage — for both the men’s and women’s teams.
We need to improve our up and coming goalkeepers. This is not a slight on the goalkeepers or goalkeeping coaches in Trinidad and Tobago but an honest observation that needs urgent addressing.
Our young goalies are being left behind our foreign counterparts and sadly the gap is now quite big. Our goalkeepers are still blessed with admirable athleticism but that’s not all there is to it.
There are so many other attributes which make a quality goalkeeper. Technical and tactical ability, good feet, distribution, concentration, mental strength and good old hard work will all supplement your God given talent. These attributes must be stimulated in the player so they can grow.
I think the time has come for me to make a meaningful contribution to the development of the young goalkeepers in Trinidad and Tobago. It is time to share my knowledge and experience to improve our goalkeeping standards. I cannot sit back and do nothing.
While doing my courses here in the UK, I’m always asked about players and goalkeepers. Coaches over here are interested in knowing when they will see the next quality goalkeeper from Trinidad and Tobago. They also ask about programmes for their training. Sadly, there do not appear to be any.
With this in mind, I have devised a programme which Minister of Sport, Darryl Smith, now has in his possession which I believe can improve the situation and help many young talented keepers to realise their full potential. The young players are the future.
This training programme is aimed at the SSFL goalkeepers throughout the country. The idea is for each participating school to nominate two goalkeepers for specialised training.
The programme is designed to operate for approximately 33 weeks from January to the end of August each year. It is also designed to cause as little disruption as possible to the preparation plans of the various coaches of the SSFL schools.
I have spoken to experienced coaches like Michael Grayson and Nigel Grosvenor about this programme and they were very excited as they felt it is certainly needed. Anthony Creed, SSFL president, thought that it was something long overdue.
The SSFL is quite organised and it appears to be well led by Mr Creed and his board. The SSFL and the Ministry of Sport have a unique relationship so this programme is a brilliant fit.
There are some talented kids in the league but they must be pushed on to the next level as they certainly have the potential. I must reiterate, that me offering my professional assistance and expertise is in no way a slight on the many goalkeeping coaches in Trinidad and Tobago.
I’m not professing to be a saviour but goalkeeping is my forte and it’s time I help raise the standard.
We have managed somehow to produce good quality guys between our sticks: Lincoln Phillips, Michael Maurice, Earl Carter, Shaka Hislop and John Granville to name only a few, were very good. We must make sure this tradition continues.
The country must feel secure with whoever is in goal. Minister Smith is an ex-footballer. He knows the need and the importance of this programme. Our young goalkeepers can go far, very far, but not without training.