Home / Volley / Global Football / Inside the YPL: Wired868 finds familiar issues around player registration and club ‘adoptions’

Inside the YPL: Wired868 finds familiar issues around player registration and club ‘adoptions’

After three shaky rounds with just 27 from 45 scheduled matches taking place, the Youth Pro League (YPL) finally had a full quota of games on the weekend. Once again, TT Pro League CEO Julia Baptiste blamed registration issues for the barrage of defaulted fixtures and forfeited points.

“If you don’t complete your registration before that [deadline] date, you will automatically default your first two matches or lose the points in your first two matches,” Baptiste told Wired868. “[The deadline] is to give teams the option to at least register 20 to 25 players in each age group. And it gives the League the opportunity to sort and make sure that everyone has everything.

Photo: 2018 YPL action between San Juan Jabloteh (red shirts) and W Connection at the Bourg Mulatresse ground in San Juan.
(Copyright Kerlon Orr/CA-Images/Wired868)

“I know a lot of people believe that because its youth league, [we should just] let the youths play; but I don’t condone that. I don’t mind them playing. I want all of them to play but [they] must be registered and transferred, the way it should be done.”

The early season defaults due to registration problems is now a regular concern for the YPL. Last season, the failure of several clubs to make the deadline was somewhat overshadowed by a controversy involving the potential participation of the National Under-17 Team in the place of Morvant Caledonia United.

According to YPL regulations, clubs can register players from January up until roughly two weeks before the start of the competition. There are three divisions: Under-13, Under-15 and Under-17.

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After the first two rounds of matches, a second registration window begins and remains open until the knockout competition. During the second registration period, any player can be used once his paperwork is submitted by noon, two days before kick off.

San Juan Jabloteh remain one of the most successful teams at YPL level and Technical Director Keith Jeffrey credited much of that to his club’s organisation.

“Some of the teams—maybe because of finance—don’t have administrators,” said Jeffrey. “A lot of the teams because of financial constraints, one person might have to do three jobs. It [is] a tedious task if you don’t have the man power.

“Jabloteh is a club at the youth level that is very organised, with an office and a staff. So the coaches don’t have to double up. I think that’s the problem.”

Photo: San Juan Jabloteh attacker Tyrique Sutherland (right) lines up a shot during 2018 YPL action against W Connection at the Bourg Mulatresse ground in San Juan.
(Copyright Kerlon Orr/CA-Images/Wired868)

Another potential issue, Baptiste admitted, is the decision by several Pro League clubs to ‘adopt’ external sides to represent them in the YPL, which appears to exacerbate the registration issues. The adopted team has to transfer in an entire squad and often have little time to complete their paperwork.

This season, T&T Maestros, Pro Series, QPCC and Queen’s Royal College are all competing in the YPL on behalf of Morvant Caledonia, Central FC, North East Stars and Defence Force respectively.

It means that only half of the Pro League’s clubs—W Connection, Club Sando, Police FC, Point Fortin Civic, Terminix La Horquetta Rangers and Jabloteh—bothered to field youth teams.

“If it is you are adopting a team or a school or whatever, they may not be well aware of the process,” said Baptiste, “and so they might be slow in the process and not have everything done in time.”

Maestros and Morvant Caledonia United coach Sheldon de Freitas absolved the Pro League administration of blame.

“It’s not a difficult [registration] process,” said de Freitas. “It’s a matter of making your arrangements early and getting your arrangements clear… We had [some] problems coming down to the end but it might be a bit on us too, moving a [little] late.”

Photo: Pro Series’ Hashim Portillo (right) holds off a Football Factory opponent during RBYL action at the Queen’s Park Savannah on 30 March 2019.
Pro Series are representing Central FC in the 2019 YPL U-13 competition.
(Copyright Allan V Crane/CA-Images/Wired868)

Stars owner Ryan Nunes, who outsourced his youth set-up to the ‘Parkites’, suggested that miscommunication and a lack of resources by the administrative body did play some part of the mix-ups.

“I just put it down to the miscommunication [of deadlines] and the volatility and instability of both organisations, the Pro League and TTFA,” said Nunes. “I think the difficulty with the registration process lies with the collection of information from parents. The Pro League demands the original birth certificate is seen and because it is such a priority document, parents are not willing to release it and that can result in delays.

“To add to that, the Pro League staffing is under resourced. They have a difficult time; no fault of theirs. And it’s pretty hard to get 130 documents all in order when they say go and you need it like next week.

“But what we have seen in the ‘FIFA connect/TT connect’ [process], it’s simple to upload and it would simplify the process going forward.”

Baptiste informed Wired868 that all registration forms must be attached to the player’s original birth certificate with a copy for the YPL to authenticate the information, along with the relevant transfer form and certificate.

For players transferring in from other competitions, such as the Republic Bank Youth League, the player’s YPL registration package must include a transfer certificate issued by the league that they are coming from.

Photo: Pro League CEO and board representative Julia Baptiste (right) greets Defence Force players before kick off in the FCB Cup final at the Hasely Crawford Stadium on 20 July 2018.
(Copyright Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)

For internal transfers—players moving from one YPL club to another—a YPL transfer form must be attached to the registration form, which should be stamped and signed by the two clubs and include a signature from the player and his parent along with a copy of the parent’s ID.

When a club is transferring only a handful of players, the process is simple enough. However, it can be a daunting challenge for clubs who have to register an entire roster.

Central FC Managing Director Brent Sancho, who represents the Pro League on the new Commission meant to oversee a merger between the Pro League and Trinidad and Tobago Super League, said the outsourcing of their youth team was due to financial constraints.

“We tried [running an academy] in the beginning and it just didn’t work out,” said Sancho. “I don’t think most people understand what it takes to run a professional club. [Clubs] just don’t have that money to truly develop a player. To run a full-fledged academy, you are looking at three to five million dollars a year, as there is a big difference between an academy and a coaching school.”

“There isn’t any money for it; and then part of the [issue] is with a kid’s registration [when], once he goes to play school football, he then becomes a school football player. The current rules don’t protect [the investment of] a professional club.”

Photo: Central FC managing director and ex-Sport Minister and Senator Brent Sancho.
(Courtesy SPORTT)

De Freitas, whose Maestros team represented Central FC in 2017 and Morvant Caledonia in 2018 and 2019, was unconvinced by Sancho’s argument and felt the YPL’s composition of clubs was unfair. But he believes it is a necessary evil for teams like his.

“We just make the sacrifice because we want the players go on to that next level,” said de Freitas. “We want to give them that opportunity to hone their skills in a more competitive environment, especially the players who have that bit more potential.”

“[For Pro League clubs to pass the responsibility to run academies to other smaller teams] doesn’t auger well for football development at all. It’s a kind of cop-out by the Pro League teams that only take care of their senior players. That is short term [thinking].

“Their cry [is a lack of funds] but, for example, Maestros doesn’t have a sponsor. If we could do it [and put a youth team together] on these [limited] means, then why people who have a little funding can’t put it together?”

De Freitas argued that good should not be the enemy of better; and it is better to have a decent youth set-up than none at all.

Photo: Central FC midfielder Abdul-Quddoos Hypolite (left) strokes the ball past FC Santa Rosa goalkeeper Joshua Charlerie during the RBNYL Under-13 final at the Hasely Crawford Stadium on 1 July 2017.
The “Central” club is actually the T&T Maestros from Laventille.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/CA Images/Wired868)

“To do it properly requires funding but you could [still] do it like us,” said de Freitas, whose Maestros team has produced several national youth prospects of late including National U-15 starlet Abdul-Qudoos Hypolite. “We ain’t doing it all that professional but we’re trying our best. We still have our youths coming out, making national teams and getting scholarships.

“So there is still some measure of success with what we are doing, so why they can’t do it?”

Pro Series founder and head coach Paul Decle said the level of competition at YPL level was what appealed, when he was approached to field Central FC’s Under-13 team.

“The competition itself is great and [the] intensity is good,” said Decle, who is in his debut YPL season. “In terms of local football, it’s a stepping stone or a pathway for my players to continue to be challenged at the highest level that the country could offer.”

Nunes insisted Stars did not abdicate their responsibility but, rather, allowed QPCC the chance to partner with them for the 2019 season. He claimed several Stars players were busy studying for exams or training with the National Under-17 Team and that influenced their club’s decision.

“QPCC had approached us, along with three or four other academies and we felt the best fit was QPCC,” said Nunes, “and we added some of our players with their players. So the core of the team is QPCC; but it’s a blended team.”

Photo: QPCC’s Darren Pashley (left) tries to hold off Trendsetter Hawks’ Malachi Celestine during the RBNYL U-16 finals at the Hasely Crawford Stadium on 7 July 2018.
QPCC are representing North East Stars in the 2019 YPL competition.
(Copyright Allan V Crane/CA-Images/Wired868)

Although Stars failed to make the registration deadline, they still played their opening fixtures against Morvant Caledonia and Civic. The latter teams were awarded the points but Nunes claimed Stars took the moral victory in the unofficial matches.

“North East played every game and beat every team [in the first two rounds],” said Nunes. “It would be classified as practice games—as they said we would not be officially registered—but it was in the spirit of giving the kids an opportunity to play. It was not so much about the points.”

Jeffrey does not believe in adopting youth teams and insisted that Jabloteh would not change their philosophy.

“Jabloteh is a club at the youth level that is very organised,” he said. “We run an academy and these different age groups so we don’t have those problems [like some other teams].

“[…] That is why W Connection, Club Sando and Jabloteh are the three leaders in that aspect. That is why at the end of the season, you will see those teams are always around the top three in all the divisions.”

The gauntlet has been thrown down.

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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  1. I ask the question again ;Is T&T ready for Pro-Soccer?The first thing that surfaces from the lips of all the thinkers is “MONEY”. The thinkers of the organisational operations in T&T is creating a nation of beggars. Why are you blaming development on “MONEY”.What else do you need ?

    • Cliff Bertrand Our sweet country was never ever ready for any professional league and the only reason why it got started was because in order to stage any youth World Cup tournaments or senior there must be a real professional league in our country so the corrupted Jack Warner and his cronies fooled everyone because their agendas was to have the youth tournaments in the stadiums in order to make plenty monies and remember what he did when his professional team won Joe public the bootleg professional league plus the other four tournaments that was it for putting out thousands of monies without any returns and then he got involved in the politics so that he can make back his millions and more Them really good yes

  2. This is a consequence of different people and organizations pulling in different directions.
    No alignment of one to the next. TTProLeague, TTFA, Super League, SSFL, Republic Bank Youth League etc all going in different directions.

    The saga will continue unless everyone starts to pull the bull in one direction.

  3. O and Justin DeFreitas made the most poignant statement pointing out that 2 teams from separate leagues collaborating. Imagine Leeds United furnishing Chelsea with their U 17s lololol

  4. Sad situation in Trinidad, not only do I want to agree with Keith Look Loy, I want to point out that academies aren’t for free I think only Jabloteh runs a Free academy, all others charge a fee, I remember at Joe Public Jack once pointed out that the only part of the club really bringing in any income was the academy. So it’s just a matter of doing some work , marketing to primary and secondary schools in your locale , and getting your senior players involved in coaching it’s not rocket science. The fees the children pay would take care of running the academy’s operations. Excuses abound.I repeat Sad state of affairs

    • Technically, an academy is free. You’re recruiting and developing future players. It’s an investment by the club, so only the best players will attend. If your child pays, then it’s a coaching school which is income generating and any kid can join regardless of ability or potential.

    • Well I stand corrected , coaching school or academy whichever makes sense to each club , it doesn’t take away from the fact that only about 3 out of the 10 pro league teams doesn’t have to borrow TEAMS , not a few players here and there ; to compete in the YPL. Again it shows we are joking , but it’s symptomatic of the whole country except for the 1% and their business ventures and a few other people out side that group who understand the importance of best practice

  5. And when I keep on calling them bootleg administrators coaches and bootleg professional league they vex with me Them really good yes steuupsss

  6. Please don’t punish the kids that get a chance to play. The truth is that with the existence of a pro league in Trinidad and Tobago there are certain international requirements for our youths to have even a chance at the professional level of football. They must play at the highest level available in their country.

    • Simon Teixeira if more than half of the pro league youth teams are actually RBYL teams, then I don’t get your point really.
      Why not work on improving your own competition rather than sacrificing your identity to prop up an ailing competition?

    • Lasana Liburd again I say we just want to see kids play. I totally agree with what you are saying and have been asking for months what we regular people can do to help improve local football. All of football is ailing in Trinidad and Tobago and the kids should never get caught up in it. They really don’t care if it’s RBYL or youth TT Pro league they just want to play football.

  7. Finally this nonsense is public.

    At Central we used 2 different teams for our U13, and U15. So the U13 was coaches by a non Central coach, we had no input into their training, style of play, should have take. To credit for how they played, same for U15.

    And these people call themselves professionals. Not even an attempt to adopt a school. Just the intent to use others, and if possible claim their talent and hard work.

  8. absolute nonsense … it’s a shame my plan for the Pro League never got funding

  9. A true professional league probably wouldn’t allow a team to draft another entity to represent itself in a competition. Rule should be solid and without loopholes that all teams be in league should have their own youth program. No exceptions.

  10. I see one reader pointed out that Trendsetter Hawks played for Jabloteh a few years back. I believe that’s true. Right Nicholas Lochan?

    • Yes. They covered some costs/provided support which smaller Clubs didn’t have. I can’t speak for other Clubs and their arrangement, but I heard some don’t give a case of water! I can’t disagree if a Club goes with a TT Pro league team but I do know the end result is not going to solve/devdlop some of the fundamental problems. IMO we all NEED to go back to the drawing board with a workable and open minded TTFA to devise the best strategy to improve the game for all… Clubs, Academies, Zones, TTSL & TTPL.

  11. In 2015/2016 didn’t TrendsetterHawks represent San Juan Jabloteh at the youth pro league? If memory serves me correctly Mr Wickham was the coach for the U13/U14 Habloteh team for that period.

  12. As I have been on both sides of this situation it’s totally unfair and unprofessional for a Professional Club to used an amateur team to benefit their name and agendas

  13. Truth is, the biggest and most important investments in youth football are TIME and LOVE. The cry of “No money” is a joke. Who can’t find sixteen boys to form a team at any age group level? This is why the clubs ofTTSL introduced a three point deduction for any team that did not field at least one youth team in 2018. Interestingly, clubs that voted for this regulation then broke it, and then one of them bitched all season about the deduction. So I repeat, the most critical investments in youth football are TIME AND LOVE. Without these, excuses abound but all fall down.

  14. Wait nah North East Stars using QPCC and QPCC is a club in the Super League which looking to combine with the pro ;league, what nonsense is this?. Almost all the so called pro clubs dont really have any youth programmes. They either borrow a whole team of they go around and scout players. Jabloteh is known for going around and scouting players. No real development taking place. But the North East Sytyars / QPCC thing real funny.