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Williams: Cuba draw was good start for T&T U20s; why he took concussed Sooklal to Curaçao

Trinidad and Tobago National Under-20 Team coach Brian Williams described yesterday’s goalless draw against Cuba as “a good start” for the two island republic and insisted that his squad is still growing.

The young Soca Warriors and Cuba are in a four-team Caribbean Cup group in Curaçao, which also includes Haiti and St Lucia. Haiti stormed to the front of the group yesterday evening after a 5-1 win over the St Lucians.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago National Under-20 right back Kori Cupid (right) tries to keep his balance after pressure from a Turks and Caicos player during Caribbean Cup qualifying action at the Ato Boldon Stadium on 17 June 2016. T&T won 11-0. (Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago National Under-20 right back Kori Cupid (right) tries to keep his balance after pressure from a Turks and Caicos player during Caribbean Cup qualifying action at the Ato Boldon Stadium on 17 June 2016.
T&T won 11-0.
(Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)

“I think this was a good start for us,” Williams told the TTFA Media. “It was a difficult game, very physical and well contested by both sides but our boys handled it very well. We knew it was going to be tough heading into the match and I think Cuba also had to put in a decent shift on the evening.

“The first half was pretty balanced. We had one good chance and Cuba also had a chance on goal after a defensive blunder on our part.

“We had three second half substitutes, Jarred Dass, Kathon St Hillaire and Kori Cupid all coming on and making a good contribution. There’s always room for improvement and we are still growing as a unit.”

Trinidad and Tobago face St Lucia next on Monday evening before they close their group assignments on Wednesday night against Haiti. The top two teams advance to the Caribbean Cup semi-finals and automatically secure a CONCACAF spot while the the best third place team from the two groups also go to the Under-20 CONCACAF Championship.

Williams said his players are ready to go after a win against St Lucia.

“The boys are in good spirit after the match,” said Williams, “and now we will be looking to have a strong showing against St Lucia and go all out for the win on Monday.”

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago National Under-20 striker Nicholas Dillon (right) takes on St Lucia defender Melvin Doxilly during 2016 Caribbean Cup qualifying action at the Ato Boldon Stadium on 19 June 2016. The two teams played to a 1-1 draw. (Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago National Under-20 striker Nicholas Dillon (right) takes on St Lucia defender Melvin Doxilly during 2016 Caribbean Cup qualifying action at the Ato Boldon Stadium on 19 June 2016.
The two teams played to a 1-1 draw.
(Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)

Williams, a former Strike Squad defender, also tried to explain why his technical staff took 23 players to Curaçao although only 20 could be registered. And why they flew in defender Jacob Sooklal from Canada, although he was concussed a week earlier and had been banned from training by his school.

Jacob landed in Willemsted a day before the 23-man squad was selected and was promptly ordered to watch the competition from the stands.

Williams explained that his technical staff, which includes manager Dunston Williams, was fully aware of Sooklal’s injury before they sent him his plane ticket.

“We knew since last month that Jacob Sooklal suffered the concussion,” said Williams, “and his coach in Canada made a decision to sideline him from training which put him off a bit. But he has been a part of this squad from the start and the other two players are also part of this squad.

“Jacob was back in training with us yesterday but we had to make that decision in advance to avoid the risk and go with another player.”

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

TTFA media officer Shaun Fuentes claimed that the National Under-20 Team technical staff, according to manager Dunstan Williams, got medical clearance for the player to join the squad. Despite having three additional players and six staff members, the Trinidad and Tobago National Under-20 Team did not travel to Curaçao with a doctor.

The national youth coach also justified taking Naparima College defender Rondell Payne and Cengem Harlem Strikers attacker Moses Jaikaran to a Panama training camp and then to Curaçao although they will watch the action from the stands.

“As a staff we also made a decision to have at least 22 players in camp in order to have numbers to make up two teams for our training scrimmage sessions and so on,” said Williams. “We wanted to maintain a complete squad and to keep everyone involved for the duration of the tournament, which is why we brought the 23 players here to Curaçao.”

Trinidad and Tobago team (against Cuba): 1.Denzil Smith (GK), 13.Isaiah Garcia (3.Kori Cupid), 5.Taryk Sampson, 6.Noah Powder (8.Jarred Dass), 17.Keston Julien, 11.Kareem Riley, 12.Shane Sandy, 7.Isaiah Hudson, 10.Jabari Mitchell (captain), 14.Taofik Lucas-Walker (15.Kathon St Hillaire), 9.Nicholas Dillon.

Unused substitutes: 20.Jabari Brice (GK), 2.Andrew Rullow, 4.Kierron Mason, 16.Micah Lansiquot, 18.Josh Toussaint, 19.Morgan Bruce.

Technical staff: Brian Williams (head coach), Kerry Jamerson (assistant coach), Dunstan Williams (team manager), Nigel Neverson (goalkeeping coach), Dexter Thomas (trainer), Esmond O’Brien (equipment manager).

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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44 comments

  1. Kestor.. This is a Trinidad and Tobago national team not college football/soccer. It’s unprofessional and unacceptable to not travel with a doctor. That is mandatory or should be mandatory. We could talk for hours about how unprofessional we do things.. But it’s because the wrong people are in decision making positions. I call them clueless dinosaurs who think they’re more important than they really are.

    • Well FIFA should get involved eh and ban our sweet country from taking part in all tournaments steeuuppss. Them really good yes.

    • If it is a law fine, then the TTFA is clearly in contravention and must be admonished for it. But if it js not there are probably good reasons for that too.
      I am interested in knowing the FIFA requirement or at least the medical best practise.

    • I don’t think we should need a law to know that sport teams should travel with doctors. How can you justify three additional players but no physio or doctor? Smh.

    • There is a FIFA law that says no team can be in tournament without a doctor. I have to assume that law must only be for senior teams because I’m flabbergasted here.
      Any self respecting team would have the doctor for friendlies too. The Marvin Lee incident was 16 years ago and yet here we are.
      I have to assume FIFA only has to law for adults as professional clubs could possible sue. Which would say a lot about FIFA too.
      In any case, the NAAA has much less resources than the TTFA and they travel with doctor(s) and physio(s).

  2. And Kester a certified athletic trainer in the States is essentially a physiotherapist. And that is NOT what a trainer is here. You’re in local sport and have been with local national teams before. I’d assume you know this.
    Your statement would simply confuse people who do not follow local sport or don’t have close knowledge of such matters.

  3. Kester, let us be clear here. Are you saying that it is fine that the national team travelled without a doctor and physio?

  4. Lasana, as i said the experiences I’ve had have been different and in some sports it remains that way. I understand that for american football teams it is different and they have doctors assigned to teams for all games.
    Collegiate soccer teams and a USL do not travel with a medical doctor. That is what i experienced. And yes I am very confident in the capabilities of a Certified Athletic Trainer.

  5. Well said Keith.. That’s absolutely standard. Accept too much crap and unprofessionalism in Trinidad.and Tobago.

  6. ..NO national team should take to the field, never mind travel, without a proper doctor in attendance. And this not the responsibility of the MSYA but of the TTFA..

  7. Kester, you think very highly of the medical capabilities of trainers. The TTFA always tells us that they are physios.
    Do you know there isn’t a single accredited physio on a national team?
    Don’t excuse that sort of thing Kester. How is it that cricket and athletics have physios and doctors with their teams and the football teams do not?
    Do you understand the damage that can be done by the time that kid gets to the nearest medical center?
    You’re a football man Kester. You should know this. Would you really feel safe with your son or daughter being on a national team and abroad for three weeks without a physio or doctor?

  8. Bruce Aanensen my experience is that a certified athletic trainer is most times the head of the medical staff of teams. Team doctors were used mostly in consultative capacities. In some collegiate sports and in the USL team that i am familiar with that what obtains. If there was serious trauma that the trainer was unable to handle, it was referred to the tournament’s medical staff or the nearest medical center.

  9. Could not agree with you more Lasana. Safety in sport is more critical now than ever before.

  10. Thanks Bruce. Kester surprised me with that one in 2016.
    But FIFA should go a step further and make it mandatory for ALL teams at ALL levels. Every country has physios.
    If the football bodies are cheap then let them beg and barter to get one pro bono. But don’t put the young athletes at risk.
    Those kids and their parents would surely be counting on a responsible football body to provide such things.

  11. Lasana, I recall when we qualified for the finals in 2006, The then FIFA regulations required the head physiotherapist to have a doctorate and that is when Oba Gulston joined the team. The requirements and qualifications for the doctor were also clearly spelt out.
    This should advise on the standards that should filter down.

  12. According to FIFA law, only a team doctor or physiotherapist is even allowed on the field to attend to a player. The TTFA has no accredited physio on any team. So what does that say?
    Again, I don’t even think you should need to see FIFA on this. It should just be common sense to me that in a contact sport–if you care anything about the athletes at all–you would want properly qualified physicians to treat them.

  13. Here you go Kester Lendor. FIFA website in 2014:

    The issue of concussion in football has been broadly discussed following recent high profile cases at the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil™, particularly the incident which involved the German player Christoph Kramer during the final match. FIFA has been active in this field for many years, carrying out a number of scientific studies and hosting several conferences with international sports federations which led to clear recommendations on the subject. However, the incidents at the World Cup have shown that the role of team doctors needs to be reinforced in order to ensure the correct management of potential cases of concussion in the heat of the competition.

    Following recent discussion with team doctors and Confederations, the FIFA Medical Committee agreed at a meeting held yesterday in Zurich to submit a proposal to the FIFA Executive Committee in order to improve the protocol. Under the proposal, whenever a suspected incident of concussion occurs, the referee will have the ability to stop the game for three minutes, allowing the relevant team doctor to complete an on-pitch assessment and decide if the player has suspected concussion. The referee will only allow the injured party to continue playing with the authorisation of the team doctor, who will have the final decision.

    http://www.fifa.com/development/news/y=2014/m=9/news=fifa-s-medical-committee-proposes-new-protocol-for-the-management-of-c-2443024.html

  14. Surely our Ministry of Sport understands the critical importance of having a team doctor with EVERY NATIONAL TEAM.
    This should be a priority especially with our young players. It can be the difference between life and death. Let us get serious and get priorities right.

  15. if you want to follow this is the link

  16. Lasana Liburd T&T 2 vs St Lucia 0 halftime

  17. No doctor, medic, nor medically trained personnel, and a youth who recently had a concussion???????

    Id this a good decision??????

  18. Did not say much n terms of did he team do the thugs they were supposed to do , and technical competence.

  19. I think that issue with Jacob Sooklal was much more alarming to me than the fact that we are now happy to draw with Cuba.
    Based on our performances earlier in the campaign, Brian Williams might actually just have been practical there.

  20. Can anyone explain why you would bring a young player with a concussion into training, especially without a team doctor?

    • It’s just disgraceful yes Nigel. And it would have been easier to swallow if the football president was not parading up and down like a peacock and brags about the TTFA’s bank balance while national teams travel without so much as an accredited physio.

    • How can any touring sporting team not have a doctor or accredited physio–no matter the ages of the squad? That’s just for starters.
      The explanation itself beggars belief. Because now they are admitting to taking a player who was banned from training at his own school in Canada because he was concussed and taking him to represent his country. And I’d bet anything that he was banned from training in Canada due to medical advice.
      This is reckless behaviour. At best!

    • And that isn’t even touching on fact that they essentially paid for him to come and sit in the stands. And they have to pay his airfare, accommodation and meals since the CFU only takes care of registered players.
      Sharp business.

    • Lasana Liburd , are you surprised. We’re a minor league setup, at the moment.

    • Lasana Liburd , Brian, would seen the talent and analyze the issues . Is it not that coaching about results? , i don’t know if blames should pass without looking at the decion making process

    • I asked myself the same questions

  21. What was the coach’s expectation? To draw or to win? If it was to win, that draw was not a good start! He will definitely need those 2 lost points down the road.

  22. Somebody tell me I miss read the article no team doctor.

  23. So Williams is saying, despite the fact that Sooklal could not play they sent for him because he was part of the squad from the start. Who paying for these three players to lime in the stands.