Home / Volley / Global Football / Hyland pledges full support to Saintfiet era; Shabazz will run elite youth programme

Hyland pledges full support to Saintfiet era; Shabazz will run elite youth programme

Veteran Trinidad and Tobago international midfielder Khaleem Hyland vowed to continue to give 100 percent to the Russia 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign, as the Soca Warriors prepare for life under new coach Tom Saintfiet.

Hyland, a combative box to box midfielder with 67 caps and four goals, told the TTFA Media that his dream remains the same: to get to the World Cup.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago midfielder Khaleem Hyland (second from right) is helped to the dressing room by defender Yohance Marshall (centre) while captain Kenwyne Jones (right) looks on after 2018 World Cup qualifying action against Honduras in San Pedro Sula on 15 November 2016. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago midfielder Khaleem Hyland (second from right) is helped to the dressing room by defender Yohance Marshall (centre) while captain Kenwyne Jones (right) looks on after 2018 World Cup qualifying action against Honduras in San Pedro Sula on 15 November 2016.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

“We have a job to do which is the same job we had from the start of the campaign, which is to go to the World Cup,” said the 27-year-old Hyland, who plays professionally for Westerlo in Belgium. “And we as players really want to go to a World Cup. We as players have the job to do. The coach is only there to guide the players…

“The coach cannot come out on the field and he can only guide us from the sidelines. The player has to make the final decision when he is on the field and give his one hundred.

“I as a player always give my full hundred and will continue to do so once I have on the Red,White and Black.”

Saintfiet, a 43-year-old Belgian, was once attached to Westerlo as a player, although he retired at 24 and it is uncertain if he played professionally in the Belgium top flight. Hyland revealed that the new Warriors coach is on friendly terms with Westerlo technical director Wim Van Hove, though.

“Wim said to me a couple days ago that he knows coach Saintfiet well and that he was here at Westerlo and they are good friends,” said Hyland. “I had a conversation with coach Saintfiet today and he spoke well of Wim whom he said was one of the first persons that sent him a note of congratulations when he got the job.”

Hyland played in 35 of Trinidad and Tobago’s 43 internationals under former national head coach Stephen Hart and expressed disappointed at his departure. However, he said the Warriors now have to look at the bigger picture.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago head coach Stephen Hart juggles a football during practice before his team's 2016 Copa America play off contest against Haiti. (Copyright AFP 2016)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago head coach Stephen Hart juggles a football during practice before his team’s 2016 Copa America play off contest against Haiti.
(Copyright AFP 2016)

“I know a lot of people expressed their disappointment with the situation over the last few days but that is part of life. We wish coach Hart the best of luck. I personally sent him a message. We know what he wanted to achieve and what he gave for T&T football and the mindset he instilled in us.

“I know he wants the best for us which means we have to overlook all the negatives right now and focus on the bigger picture, which is the success of the national team and our football in general…

“It has always been my dream to represent my country and I will always give my best because I am not playing for myself only but also the entire country. We want to put back Trinidad and Tobago football on the map. And by trying to do so, we have to qualify for the World Cup and this means we have to play and give the support to whoever the coach is. And right now, Tom is the man in that position.”

Hyland suffered a hamstring injury in Trinidad and Tobago’s last outing away to Honduras, which ended in a 3-1 loss. However, he was deemed fit to return to action today against Standard Liege.

Saintfiet will make his debut as Trinidad and Tobago coach later this month, as the Warriors leave on Christmas Day for friendlies in Nicaragua against the host nation on 27 and 30 of December.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) president David John-Williams (second from left) welcomes new National Senior Team coach Tim Saintfiet (second from right) during a press conference at the Marriott Hotel on 7 December 2016. Looking on is new general secretary Justin Latapy-George (far left) and technical director Muhammad Isa. (Courtesy Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) president David John-Williams (second from left) welcomes new National Senior Team coach Tim Saintfiet (second from right) during a press conference at the Marriott Hotel on 7 December 2016.
Looking on is new general secretary Justin Latapy-George (far left) and technical director Muhammad Isa.
(Courtesy Wired868)

Trinidad and Tobago will then host Suriname and Haiti in 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup qualifiers on 4 and 8 of January while they again play at home for a pair of World Cup qualifiers against Panama and Mexico on 24 and 28 March respectively.

TTFA president David John-Williams has publicly warned Saintfiet that he should look for a job if the Warriors do not get at least four points from the two World Cup qualifiers at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain.

In other local football news, new Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) technical programs head coordinator Jamaal Shabazz vowed to kickstart the National Elite Youth Development programme next month and denied it was already underway.

At least one south zone official claimed that the elite programme started with screening sessions over two weeks ago. However, Shabazz, who was officially appointed on Monday 5 December, denied this.

“There have been a lot of rumours that the Elite development programme has been started but it has not been started,” Shabazz told the TTFA Media. “I did not come to run around the programme. I came to run the program.

Photo: Morvant Caledonia United co-founder and technical director Jamaal Shabazz (left) and head coach Rajesh Latchoo—then head and assistant coach respectively—enjoy a good day at the office during the 2013/14 Pro League season. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: Morvant Caledonia United co-founder and technical director Jamaal Shabazz (left) and head coach Rajesh Latchoo—then head and assistant coach respectively—enjoy a good day at the office during the 2013/14 Pro League season.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

“We will start in a proper way and all the zones and the country at large will know about it. It is not a secret. The sponsors have made a great input.

“NLCB have demonstrated that they have planted the corn. We want the butcher to send his son, the baker and the candlemaker to send his sons and daughters to to be part of this programme.”

Shabazz said the local football body will liaise with the zonal associations and hire a large staff of mainly coordinators and coaches to run the programme.

“We have already spoken to UEFA about setting up a course to teach coaches how to scout for talent and then we will also have a specific course for youth development in a more specialised way,” said Shabazz, who coached the Trinidad and Tobago and Guyana national teams and is a co-founder of the Morvant Caledonia United club.

The TTFA Elite Youth Development programme, according to the local football body aims to: scout and select our best U-13/14 boys and girls and nurture this special pool of talent so that they form the core of our national teams at the U-13/15, U-17, U-20, U-23 and senior levels from 2017 through 2034; and to hone the talent of these young footballers through specialised football and life skills training.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago National Under-17 Team substitute Luke Singh (far right) joins in the celebrations after their 3-2 comeback win over Bermuda in 2017 World Cup qualifying action at the Ato Boldon Stadium, Couva on 18 September 2016. (Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago National Under-17 Team substitute Luke Singh (far right) joins in the celebrations after their 3-2 comeback win over Bermuda in 2017 World Cup qualifying action at the Ato Boldon Stadium, Couva on 18 September 2016.
(Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)

The TTFA proposes to develop and implement the following:

  • A programme of year-round coaching, training and national team duty inclusive of 2- 4 week periods of being ‘in camp’;
  • A schedule of games to be played that includes one friendly international game every two to three months;
  • Procure the necessary personal and team performance recording and monitoring equipment to enable scientific performance analysis and assessment;
  • Implement a Personal Development Program (PDP) for each player, including nutrition education, educational assessment and tutoring for the players;
  • Maintain a players’ ledger on all those involved in the program to ensure accuracy of their playing history and professional career progress;
  • Form a parent and family support unit for the players.

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34 comments

  1. Shabazz is appreciated you explained the situation. Please don’t go the route of these other f@#×$. You hear us griping on here and you know the deal. Associate good people and coaches around you and try to make a difference.

  2. sorry i missed Jamal …..Lasana i have a real issue with the number of competitions we are suggesting our youths play in. When they play in all these competitions under all these different coaches and teams (all trying to win more than anything else) where and when does a player get help on correcting issues in his game? Certainly not during the competition time because the coaches/teams have a competition to win. So when does this much needed corrective work take place?

    When u look at our SSFL you see talented players yes….but you also see players that could be so much better if time was spent working on their technique be it their shooting ;passing range or ball control.

    I dont subscribe to the school of thought that says playing more games/competition makes a better player…..what it does is reinforces a players traits good and bad. so if a player doesnt have a good 1st touch he isnt going to get it by playing more football games. Instead time has to be spent working on his technique. I have been fortunate to witness a couple foreign pro team academies in action…and technique and touch is taught and practised ad nauseum. When i questioned 1 academy coach in particular about this he simply said what goid are tactics if the players dont have the full range of technique required to carry out the said tactics……..i think that same argument can be applied to the plethora of games/competitions that are being proposed.

    Would love to hear your comments Lasana and those of fellow contributors here

    • Lasana Liburd

      You’re very correct Wayne. I was thinking of nine months together with a football. But I missed the nurturing bit. To be fair, if they play once a week there might be more time for them to train for maybe two or three days.
      So maybe having football competitions with just one game a week would help. What do you think?
      I think academies can help otherwise to nurture the young players. And the TTFA’s elite programme can obviously help further.
      But it might be easier to get youths to train when there is the apple of a game at the end of the week.

      • i think that is a better proposal but still not the best solution. I totally agree on the 1 game a week concept. Any league worth its salt only has 1 game a week as the norm. More games per week and it is no longer a league but a tournament instead. No corrective work can be done . Its just on to the next game and who has the better bunch of players and less injuries wins

        But lets delve deeper…..Firstly the pro league. The Pro League has mandated that all clubs MUST have a youth team. But does this mean that all clubs are mandated to run a proper youth program? Qualified coaches, teaching technique and skills, all playing the same system as the club’s senior team? I may be wrong but i dont think that those points are listed as a must. As a matter of fact I know some Pro League teams that have “adopted” academies as their youth program just to fulfill the “must have a youth team mandate”. I have witnessed some of these sessions as well. They basically degenerate into a controlled sweat. And the more talented players are selected……end of story.
        Now mind you i have also seen Rangers Jabloteh and WConnection to name a couple clubs that have invested the right way at the youth level and im sure there are others. But my point is this the Pro League is NOT ensuring that the next group of players is properly developed.

        Back in my day there was a clear path to national youth team selection. You played well with your school….you got picked in the TTFA zonal team you played well in the zonal competition (1 game a week) you got picked to train with the national team. That system identified talent such as Sean Legendre Kerry Jamerson Sean Walkes Ricardo Sutton Russell Latapy Timothy Haynes Clint Marcelle Colin Rocke Shaka Hislop Colvin Hutchinson Marvin Faustin Dexter Sandy just to name a few. Even 1 Hyron Best aka Jamal Shabaz was a standout goalkeeper for the East Zone back in the day. Why was this abandoned?

        My suggestion is this for our youth football development.

        1.SSFL adopts a 1 game a week schedule. In this way work can be done with the boys between games to correct technical and team structure issues. The spinoff of this would be a better quality player; better quality team; and the SSFL in itself becomes a better product.

        2 at the end of the SSFL the best players are selected to represent their zones. These zones are coached by coaches who would have been invited to a workshop led by the TTFA TD (i dont subscribe to Shabaz getting a salary to do the TD’s job either but that is a different discussion).
        This workshop works on identifying the system we want ALL the zone teams to play and the general technique required of all players and specific technique in certain areas (e.g. the stoppers must be able to change the angle of attack with crossfield balls a la Ramos from Madrid). Zonal games can be twice a month…..players technique and improving core strength are worked upon between games.

        I have taken up a lot of space and i still have a lot more to say. Its a topic that is close to my heart because as a former player i came out of the zonal system which wasnt good but compared to what is being done now was way better.

        As a current coach i have seen and heard the misguided comments by parents and administrators fooling themselves into believing that more football makes better players…….ask yourselves this how are our national youth teams doing?

        Sorry for being so long winded but this is a topic that i can speak on for days. I have spent my own $ to go overseas and see and learn what is being done and trust me what is being done overseas has very little to do with a budget and more to do with the will to develop players the right way….

        we like end results without going through the right process…..we are selling our youth short.

        Apologies again for the long post

        • Lasana Liburd

          Isn’t it interesting that we seem to have more money and certifications and less progress? The zonal system before was not great but certainly much better than what exists now.
          I had a spell with the East Zone team back then too–somewhere between 1990 and 1993, I think. But I didn’t last long in that company! Lol. It was essentially a brief training session and a sweat with the best players getting selected and I still remembers guys like Sherwin Seifert, Gary Glasgow and (I think) Kelvin Jack were there at the time.
          Anyway, our coach was Narvis from Holy Cross. No disrespect to him because I’m sure he did his part for youth development at the time but imagine what more might have been achieved if we had qualified coaches then!
          And that was the era of the early 90s when a lot of exotic talents came to the fore like Arnold Dwarika, Mickey Trotman, Evans Wise, Lyndon Andrews, Kevin Moze, Wesley Webb, Darin Lewis, Jerren Nixon, Jeremy Shortt, Stern John, etc.
          That was the Eddie Hart League era too when we would train for about a month and, once the season started, have two or three sessions in the community and a game on the weekend. And in between was your SSFL and maybe a minor league.
          That would mean football from about May to November if I remember correctly. But apart from the SSFL season, it was never more than a game a week.
          I think you make some excellent points. Maybe we will need to create another discussion on youth football. I will try to get that going.

          • i await that discussion and i think its a necessary one. We are way way behind and it seems nobody is seriously trying to address obvious issues. So whenever u are ready to start that discussion im front and centre

          • Wayne has correctly assessed the Youth Pro League. It limits the amount of participation [e.g. Mayaro, Toco, Tobago] since it’s a small league. Also if Pro Clubs are struggling its highly likely their youth clubs will struggle.

            SSFL is too concentrated with too little emphasis on development, technique and correction. It is a tournament.

            Republic Cup is too watered down with not enough matches but a good gauge for equity in participation with any community from T&T being afforded the opportunity to play.

            What should happen is a National League [4 Age Groups e.g. 12, 14, 16, 18] for half the year and SSFL for the other half. TTFA focuses on certifying ALL coaches, officials and oversees a database of ALL T&T players. After each cycle of National League & SSFL 5 High Performance Zonal Camps are conducted for said Age groups, since top players will show up based on performances. These 5 zonal camps all lead to the selection of 3 national youth teams which are then sent on International tour.

            To me this is the most cost effective way for the TTFA to holistically develop youth players and youth leagues; by efficiently managing the overall youth football structure, coaches, officials and giving players the opportunity consistently compete and excel among the best in the country. In 4-6 years, the cycle would have vastly improved the overall technical level and the top players would be far superior than what has happened in the past.

            • nicholas i agree with your zonal /high performance teams. Not so sure about the national league for the age grps you suggested because again we are in competition mode with not emphasis on technique and common tactics. What about the zonal teams playing against each other 1 or 2 games a mnth but emphasis placed on improving player skill and game related tactics during the other weeks of the mnth.
              On another point i blv we are 1 of the few countries in the world that do not have age specific fields and competitions for u 12 players. a FIFA task force yrs ago indicated that was vital to increase the number of kids picking up the game. Smaller fields less players equal more touches and time on the ball. I would welcome a league like this at the primary school level instead of us putting little boys to play on large fields…spare a taught for the little goalkeeper who has no chance in a regulation sized goal lol

        • Mr.Sheppard you might be spot on because our youth teams are beaten by Haiti and Jamaica and I don’t think they have more money or resources than us to throw at football. Good stuff.

          • Cleavs what i have stated isnt anything i came up with. I asked questions and saw with my own two eyes so its not really that i am right. I lay no claim to being the only person who knows this either. There are way more knowledgable folks than me in the power positions in local football. But when you see simple stuff like this ….things that require no great capital input being bypassed one has to question people’s agenda.

            I remember an article on wired 868 2 yrs ago where Shabazz stated that our football had outgrown the then TTFA administration. Well he is now part of the current admin. All be it in a position i dont quite fathom but as i stated before i am not the sharpest tool in the shed. I watch and wait and will comment if i dont see any real traction from him and the rest of the administration in implementing the OBVIOUS but essential things to move our football programme forward.

  3. OK south held tryouts for the elite program in three different areas and now we have the head of the program saying it starting in January does he know what’s going on or is it the blind leading the blind. What happening with the young men from south. Lasana Liburd

    • Jamaal Shabazz, there were definitely south zone trials for the Elite programme. Can you explain what happened there?

    • Zones may have had their trials but that is not the Elite Program if that was said …by whom ever it was in error. Why everything about this football gotta be a fuss and a fight star.

    • when the program I managing actually start it would not be a secret . Please Shawn Babooram I am really blind right now but in time . We work in a better way God Willing .

    • any other questions before I take my leaf or is it leave Joann

    • Jamaal, there is no fuss and fight. Someone in this group asked about the elite programme a month ago. And an official from the south zone came on to inform about zonal trials for the elite programme several weeks ago.
      So obviously there would be some confused people here. And I am glad you can shed some light there.

    • I don’t see how you can blame us when the football body gives conflicting information Jamaal. Smh. Big fish in power make mistakes and then still always blame the people for it yes.

    • Jamal if I may…youth football doesn’t need too much re-inventing just tweaking. It needs more 11v11 football so merge Republic Cup & Pro League Youth [Feb – June]. SSFL will fall in [Aug – Nov]… Good players will show up! TTFA can certify & train coaches with solid age group camps after the two competitive cycles & possible tours if $$ can stretch. IMO the whole development process now falls under the eyes of the TTFA.

    • Ok folks sorry if I came across thin skinned everyone knows I am not. Indeed you are right if conflicting info comes out from the organization ….it really appears that the blind leading the blind….But God willing the whole information dissemination thing in the TTFA will be addressed. Shawn Babooram my apologies if it sound like I jump at your throat.

    • Nicholas, isn’t the Republic Bank Youth Cup from June to July? I’d say keep that separate and have another youth competition. Just so you don’t potentially water down the Pro League tournament.
      So maybe a National tournament from February to April. And then Pro League Youth Cup from April to June… Then Republic Bank and SSFL.
      That way the Pro League can potentially scout and take youth players on loan or whatever for their competition.
      That way you might get youths playing for nine or 10 months of the year. And those who are studying or whatever can always play in two or three of the four competitions.
      What do you say Keith, Brent, Carlos and Jamaal?

    • Actually I know Keith is busy with Super League action this evening…

    • There is a concept put forward….tournaments for clubs academies etc. District screening
      to get district squads for district tournaments…..thats a level of screening outside of the club’s..
      .Then zonal teams coming out of the district process…..zonal training and tournaments…..then the national pool after zonal …..Plus centers in the zones for further development for lads who did not make the Elite pool

    • It’s a concept that would be circulated for additions and deletions….Its impossible to here connect all the dots but I welcome points that we can note here

    • Jamaal; not to sound negative..but that set up requires staffing & consistent $$. Why not let the SSFL, Republic Bank and Pro League Youth Sponsorship money indirectly work for the TTFA. TTFA’s NLCB money could be used to train coaches, officials, youth camps & tours. Stronger technical players enhance the said leagues, which in turn keep sponsors supporting and ‘red flag’ top youth players for TTFA. Player performance will determine selection so TTFA can’t be accused of being bias to specific players.

    • Jamaal Shabazz I not thin skinned like most I think information was not passed on to you. I also think you can this pull of. Best of luck.u

    • Jamal thanks for addressing and explaining this again. God speed in January when the program starts.

  4. Let’s hope that all the players are thinking like Khaleem.

  5. Nice article, and I love the patriotism of Khaleem, i hope he becomes the new captain….