Former Trinidad and Tobago international captain and England Premier League forward Kenwyne Jones will serve as assistant coach for the National Under-17 Team, as head coach Stern John revealed his technical staff this evening.
Jones played alongside John for the Soca Warriors at the 2006 World Cup while both have top flight experience in England. John played for Birmingham and Sunderland in the Premiership while Jones represented Southampton, Sunderland, Stoke City and Cardiff City.
John and Jones, according to a release from the TTFA Media, will work alongside a second assistant coach, Caleb De Souza, as well as goalkeeper coach Ross Russell, equipment manager Devin Elcock and team manager Aaron Pollard. De Souza, Elcock and Pollard are survivors from the technical staff that worked with previous head coach, Russell Latapy.
The coaching appointments were made without approval by the TTFA board, according to board member Keith Look Loy. The TTFA board is due to meet on 12 March to discuss the formal staffing of the national youth team
John, who vowed to hit the ground running with the national youth team, said he is satisfied with the pool of abilities within the technical staff he named today.
“I believe we have a group of very capable individuals who will serve on the technical staff to ensure the team is prepared in the best possible way for the competition in May,” he told the TTFA Media. “Everyone understands his roles and responsibilities. The Football Association is on board with us and, with the right level of support, I am optimistic that we go about the preparation of this team in a most professional manner to get the boys up to scratch; so that we can go to Florida and compete in May.
“We’ve already seen several groups of players and our intention is to also stage a combine in the United States later this month to have a look at the talent that is available to us out there. We will release more concrete details on that before the end of this week.”
The entire National Under-17 Team staff agreed to work without remuneration, with the current executive of the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA)—led by president David John-Williams—still unable to pay coaching staff on several teams.
At present, the TTFA is operating without a technical director or properly functioning technical committee, as Anton Corneal withheld his services due to John-Williams’ failure to fulfil the terms of his contract while the technical committee fell apart soon after the controversial appointment of National Senior Team head coach Dennis Lawrence in January 2017.
John’s coaching experience comprises of two years as assistant coach at Central FC, a year and a half as head coach at the same club and two years as assistant to Lawrence with the National Senior Team.
Jones made his coaching debut in mid-2018 when he served as assistant to Queen’s Royal College head coach Nigel Grosvenor.
De Souza, a former St Mary’s College midfielder, served as Latapy’s assistant, two years ago, when the National Under-15 outfit were mauled at Concacaf level—they conceded 21 goals in four successive losses, including an 8-1 loss to Jamaica. He does not coach competitively in Trinidad.
Russell does bring some experience as head coach to the staff, despite operating as a goalkeeping coach. A former Defence Force head coach, Russell has won two Pro League titles and an array of knockout competitions while he also served as an international head coach at Women’s National Senior Team and Men’s National Under-17 Team level.
The current National Under-17 squad begin their World Youth Cup qualifying campaign at Concacaf level on 1 May when they challenge Bermuda in what could be a decisive affair.
Trinidad and Tobago are grouped with Bermuda, Jamaica and Mexico and one from the quartet will be eliminated while the other three advance to the quarterfinal round.