Home / Volley / Global Football / T&T U-17s to play as Caledonia Utd? Officials back off as coaches, clubs and parents protest “bullying”

T&T U-17s to play as Caledonia Utd? Officials back off as coaches, clubs and parents protest “bullying”

The Trinidad and Tobago Football Association’s National Youth Programme came under fire again on Wednesday after National Under-17 staff members yesterday urged players to sign forms to represent Morvant Caledonia United in the Under-18 Division of the Youth Pro League (YPL). The signings generally took place without the teenagers having the benefit of adult counsel or the chance to consult with their parents and clubs.

On Tuesday, Trinidad and Tobago National Under-17 Manager Aaron Pollard and Assistant Coach Duane Richardson visited several schools and presented the players with YPL registration and transfer documents and instructed them that they had to sign to play for the Pro League club.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago National Under-17 Team coach Russell Latapy (right) passes on instructions to midfielder Nickel Orr during Caribbean Football Union (CFU) action against Jamaica on 20 September 2016 at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva.
(Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)

But in the wake of widespread negative reaction to the proposal, TTFA officials softened their stance and are no longer requiring players to sign the relevant forms.

Team coach Russell Latapy has still not commented on the developments but Technical Director Anton Corneal told Wired868 late on Wednesday that they have sought to address the concerns raised regarding the proposal. He gave the assurance that there will be an official update later this week on the way forward for the Under-17s.

Singing from the same hymn sheet, Pollard assured Wired868 that the Under-17s themselves are keen to play as a team in the YPL Under-18 Division as proposed but the media and the public should await the release which is likely to be forthcoming “within the next few days.”

Earlier, one Pro League club coach had confirmed the sequence of events to Wired868 and expressed great surprise at the way things had gone.

“I was contacted today [Tuesday] by one of my players,” the coach said, “who said that an assistant coach from the Under-17 National Team came up to Naparima College and came up to him with registration information and a transfer request.

“He told him he had to fill that stuff out, one time (for Morvant Caledonia United).”

The coach conceded that the officials did have some authority to make decisions because clubs are lower down on the totem pole than national teams. He objected, however, to the manner in which the whole operation has so far been carried out.

“National Team takes precedence as far as I’m concerned,” he said, “but to transfer him out and into another club, that is very odd to me.”

On Tuesday as well, Pollard sent a text message to players and to some parents indicating that, owing to the national team’s need for match practice combined with the unavailability of the funds required to arrange games against foreign teams, a decision has been taken to register the team to compete in the TTYPL as “Caledonia Utd.”

“The U17 Football Team will be playing under Caledonia Utd in the T&T Youth Pro League U-18 tournament,” Pollard’s text reads. “We are doing this because we need to play more matches as a team and to find better quality matches since we are not able to secure international matches at this time. The deadline to register is tomorrow so I will be calling you later today to make arrangements to get the registration and transfer form signed.

“Please call for more info.”

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago National Under-15 midfielder Ezekiel Kesar (centre) tries to escape from Republic Bank XI opponents Randy Antoine (left) and Aaron Moruf during action at the Ato Boldon Stadium on 15 April 2017.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/CA Images/Wired868)

Contacted by Wired868, Pollard declined to confirm whether the Under-17 will be competing as Morvant Caledonia United and claimed that a request has been made for Latapy’s charges to play in the League as the National Under-17 Team.

Pollard also declined to confirm whether Richardson or himself had visited any of the players yesterday and refused to reveal the identity of the mastermind of this new initiative.

However, coaches, clubs, parents—many of whom are still to be formally contacted about the proposed move—are particularly pleased with what has so far transpired.

One school head coach, speaking to Wired868 on condition of anonymity, claimed that the negative reactions have been generated by the failure to follow proper procedure and respect the communication chain.

“Nobody from the National Team reached out to me,” he said, “which is disappointing. Things would be so much better if everybody would just communicate and (let us) work hand-in-hand.”

“There is no higher honour than playing for your country,” he insisted, “and I would never stop the boys from playing for their country. But at the same time, some level of respect has to be coming back to the schools.”

He expressed concern about the possibility of victimisation if the players and parents refuse to sign the registration and transfer forms.

“What are the ramifications if the parents decide that they’re not signing their boys over to Caledonia?” he asked. “Is it that they going to be victimised and banned from the national team going forward? We have such a big pool of players that we could afford to ban players?”

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago National Under-15 playmaker Josiah Edwards (right) tries to escape from Republic Bank XI defender Nathan Guy (centre) while his teammate Keron Manswell looks on during action at the Ato Boldon Stadium on 15 April 2017.
(Courtesy Sean Morrison/Wired868)

Another Pro League club owner was not pleased at the way things had been handled either.

“These people didn’t even call me or the parents,” he complained to Wired868. “One parent called me and was very, very upset with the whole situation.”

“She said that her son was very upset that they went to his school and forced him to sign. ‘They kinda bully the boys and pressure them to do something that they didn’t want to do,’ she told me.”

He too agreed that the national teams take precedence over the clubs but he could not understand some of the decisions that have been made.

“Why play under Caledonia?” he asked. “Why you chose Caledonia? You asking boys to leave the clubs that they born and grow in to go to a next club and play?

“If it was an Under-17 team playing as the National Team, now that is a difference. But you playing under Caledonia so you going to represent Caledonia?”

National youth teams have previously participated in national competitions but always as national teams and never as a club.  And, despite the unambiguous statement in Pollard’s text, Morvant Caledonia United owner Jamaal Shabazz was adamant that no such thing is going to happen this time either.

“Them competing as ‘Cale’ is out of the question!” he exclaimed to Wired868.

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

According to the seasoned Pro League coach, who also serves as TTFA National Youth Football Coordinator and National Women’s team head coach, Morvant Caledonia United was requested to relinquish their spot in the Under-18 Division of the TTYPL to allow for the National U-17 to take their place.

Explaining further, he said that his club does not currently have a full squad and they were asked, “to give up our spot, but not for them to compete as “Cale” but for them to compete as the National Team playing in the Division.”

The YPL is currently two rounds into its season and Morvant Caledonia United have already forfeited their first two games in the Under-16 and Under-18 divisions.

TT Pro League General Secretary Julia Baptiste explained that, according to the rules of the competition, the initial deadline for registration in the League was 2pm on 8 February.

However, there is a second registration window, which was opened on 26 February and which will remain open until close to the end of the competition. Therefore, any team that did not properly complete its registration by that preliminary deadline can now still register teams after two rounds.

To be eligible to compete in the round on the Sunday, any as yet unregistered team wishing to play must however file its registration documentation by noon on the Friday immediately preceding.

Under this rule, clubs such as North East Stars and Central FC, which previously forfeited points in various divisions, can now suit up for action.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago National Under-15 Team forward Justin Araujo-Wilson (left) tries to escape from a Republic Bank XI defender during action at the Ato Boldon Stadium on 15 April 2017.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/CA Images/Wired868)

Baptiste denied any knowledge of any registration request to have the Under-17 team compete in the YPL but, according to Shabazz, the proposal is on the agenda for the Pro League meeting tomorrow (Friday 2 March).

About Amiel Mohammed

Amiel Mohammed
Amiel Mohammed is a sports enthusiast and has worked in communications for Central FC and the Women's Premier League TT. He has also pioneered numerous projects geared towards creating opportunities for the differently abled such as the Differently-Abled Football Camp 2015 and Focus Football Coaching Academy.

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67 comments

  1. Did they play in the latest rounds of games?

  2. If we have the same ‘smart man/men’ operating in the same manner in which their SSFL related matters are concerned… what else do u expect. Exposure is inevitable with the level of dishonesty, blatant disregard and selfish intentions. Focus is lost. This is crime in it’s own form… leading to bigger deceptions… yet we wanna laugh at only the young men who get caught up out there. The system will nvr function as it should once there are ‘terrorists’ threatening proper protocol and functionality.

    Adrian Romain

  3. If we have the same ‘smart man/men’ operating in the same manner in which their SSFL related matters are concerned… what else do u expect. Exposure is inevitable with the level of dishonesty, blatant disregard and selfish intentions. Focus is lost. This is crime in it’s own form… leading to bigger deceptions… yet we wanna laugh at the only the young men who get caught up out there. The system will nvr function as it should once there are ‘terrorists’ threatening proper protocol and functionality.

  4. It is a shame that the message was sent and some bous were traumatised by this development. Club Sando U16 (coached by Keon Trim) for one was quaking in their boots, as several of their U16 players are players who were selected by the NFA to go to the national trials and were selected to the 50 or so pool of players. How many of these clubs actually have players they have groomed from youth? The season is already short, just let the boys play their game please.

  5. In the interest of all concern.

  6. Hopefully it would be sorted out guys.

  7. Very true. It was sign or else by all accounts.

  8. Why wasn’t this arrangement put in place before the youth pro league season started? Would the team wear national colors or Caledonia uniforms? As it sounds mandatory, how will overseas based players be treated with? Just a few more questions aside from the transfer window issue..

  9. What proposal? Doesn’t sound like it was a proposal ahtall. LOL.

  10. Update: “Team coach Russell Latapy has still not commented on the developments but Technical Director Anton Corneal told Wired868 late on Wednesday that they have sought to address the concerns raised regarding the proposal. He gave the assurance that there will be an official update later this week on the way forward for the Under-17s.”

  11. Didn’t the U17 that went to the Youth World Cups play in the YPL as a team?

  12. Why these coaches trying different tactics!

  13. I hope I am wrong but there really seems to be a high level of disorganization. Makes you wonder again what kind of strategic planning meetings are happening and how often they occur. By the way, registration is one thing and transfer is another. Are they saying this is an approved transfer window, Lasana Liburd?

  14. Disrespect to the highest level and they want clubs to send players to U13 grass root program I saw this from a mile everything is short cut carry on

  15. Firstly….
    These are minors….
    They shouldn’t be allowed to just sign up….. (Parental consent)
    Secondly…..
    Why not just register the national team in the league????

    SMH……

  16. What madness am I reading here? Somebody needs to get a lawyer on this very quickly! It is illegal to enter into a contract as a minor without the consent of a parent/guardian. That’s a straightforward case to fight and win.

  17. Every club that I’m aware off would want to assist the national team in any way possible…but this scenario was extremely weird, almost a bit surreal.

  18. ..They played as the national U17 team. Not as Caledonia or any other club. And with parental consent. Not behind the parents’collective back..

    • The Women’s arm of the TTFA made the necessary arrangement so the girls could of played as the national under 17. They informed the clubs that the players would play with the national team and when the season was over they we free to play with there club teams the next season because they never had to sign any transfer forms

  19. D national under 17 women’s team played in d women’s leagues as d national U17 so y d boys couldn’t do the same

  20. Can any one in the TTFA run a cock fight if given two cocks and a cage? Or will they cock that up too.

  21. Why is it always a bacchanal? Nobody eh willing and prepared to do tings de right way? Best dem rename dey self to de VVFA (Vikey Vai Football Association).

  22. There are no reasons why team cannot play as National U17 team in league…. no club necessary…. I am sure consideration could be given by PL… I hope players and parents did not rush and sign, once signed players are now “property” of Caledonia… why Caledonia? And why not any other Club? Interesting… looking on with interest

  23. I still don’t understand why these forms are signed by ‘under 18’ players/ minors.. can anyone explain how it’s a binding document please

  24. This team is the u16 team prepping for a u17 world cup next year or a u17 team prepping for a u20 world cup?

  25. Always some BS decision, not thought out, giving some personal group advantages, you will now hear the group with some 50 cents excuse about needing them to play as a unit.

  26. Administration really poor yes!!

  27. so why cant they enter and play as the National u17 team?

  28. ..TTFA nonsense. This time from below. The essential problem, of course, is that under the current administration, political and technical, neither hand seems to know what the other is doing. There are clearly no procedures and protocols, and no reporting hierarchy. No accountability. So people can do as they please. That wil change.

    The other noteworthy point – it virtually jumps off the page at you – is that TTPL is (yet again) allowing delinquent clubs to register after the “deadline”. What a joke! Instead of being sanctioned they are rewarded Training the youth in foolishness from early..