Trinidad and Tobago Boys’ National Under-15 Team head coach Stuart Charles-Fevrier has announced his 20-man squad for this week’s TTFA Youth Invitational Tournament.
The Boys National Under-15s, who are captained by Trendsetter Hawks midfielder Jaheim Marshall, will play Panama, Venezuela and Mexico on 17, 19 and 21 July respectively while the Women’s National Under-17 Team play Panama on 19 and 21 July. Fixtures on Wednesday and Sunday are at the Ato Boldon Stadium while the Friday matches are at the Hasely Crawford Stadium venue.
“It’s a great opportunity for the players to play against some quality international teams such as Mexico, Venezuela and Panama,” Fevrier told the TTFA Media. “We have been playing a lot of practice games and then we found ourselves having to play against teams of higher age groups and senior level in order to intensify what we were doing. I believe the boys are focused and ready to give a good showing in this competition.
“This is a developmental tournament similar to what will take place [at the Concacaf Under-15 Championship] in Florida next month and it is important that we understand this and take the necessary approach. Of course we are aiming to compete and to put on a good display of football.”
But the TTFA Invitational marks a bittersweet moment for some youth coaches whose players won national selection with their clubs, only to become W Connection property before the end of the process.
Fevrier is the W Connection technical director while Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) president David John-Williams is the club owner.
Trendsetter Hawks founder and head Anthony ‘Dada’ Wickham said he was stunned to look at Fevrier’s 20-man roster and see his star attacker, Josiah Wilson, listed as a Connection player.
“When I saw the team, I called [David] John-Williams one time and asked him if Josiah Wilson was transferred to W Connection,” said Wickham, “and how could that have happened since I never signed any transfer form. He said he will have to talk to his daughter Renee [John-Williams] to find out what is going on but I am very suspicious about this whole thing.
“I think they are poaching players.”
Wickham said when his players joined the National Under-15 Team, which is funded by the National Lotteries Control Board (NLCB) under its Elite Programme, they were initially stopped from training with the club.
Then, they were asked to transfer to a Youth Pro League team last season—to supposedly play at a higher level. Marshall and Wilson transferred to Morvant Caledonia AIA, although both returned to Hawks this year.
But Wickham mused about whether the aim was always to separate clubs from the players they nurtured.
“Look they start a National Under-13 programme again this year and already they are telling the players that they cannot be involved in any activity with their clubs,” Wickham told Wired868. “Why? Is it because if you don’t play any club football for two years, you don’t even need a transfer and you can just walk and play for any other club?
“I am hearing that those clubs are in the parents’ ears promising them all kinds of things.”
Trinidad and Tobago Super League (TTSL) president and FC Santa Rosa founder Keith Look Loy also lost a bright young talent, Ja-Shawn Thomas, to Connection.
Ironically, Look Loy petitioned for the 14-year-old Thomas to get a second chance with the national youth team after he was initially cut from the burgeoning team at the East Zone stage. Earlier this year, though, the TTFA Board member said Renee John-Williams brought him a transfer request for the lanky Holy Cross College forward, which he signed. Thomas was six years old when he joined Santa Rosa.
Look Loy’s consent to the transfer did not mean he was any less hurt about the loss than ‘Dada’.
“They are using this Elite programme to identify talent and then they keep them away from the clubs that they come from,” said Look Loy. “They are separating the boys from their clubs, cherry picking them, and pressuring them to join Pro League clubs in general and W Connection in particular, so they can get into the national team.”
Look Loy, a former Fifa developmental officer, suggested the TTFA would be better off trying to improve the teams that discover gifted players, rather than isolate two dozen talented boys from the youth football circuit.
“A good match is worth five training sessions, so they should be playing after three training sessions,” said Look Loy. “Instead, they are training all the time and they tell players not to train or play anywhere else because their level will drop. I am fine with the boys training with the national programme but then allow them to play with their clubs.
“And if you have concerns about that club then go and talk to them and offer to help with their programme and try to influence the way they do things. Go watch them, talk to the coaches and work with them. But the result of this Elite Programme shouldn’t be to deprive clubs of their players.”
Look Loy also expressed misgivings at the selection process for the National Under-15 Team. Although the TTFA was credited for executing a fine scouting job to arrive at the current team in early 2018, he claimed they have operated as a completed squad ever since and have not made it easy for players to break in.
“When you look at that team, you have  players from two clubs and none of them won either the Republic Bank or the Youth Pro League Under-15 competitions this year,” said Look Loy. “Logically, if you go to scout at the under-15 competition, you would surely see at least one boy you want to bring in. You mean to tell me that with teams like San Juan Jabloteh, Point Fortin Civic and La Horquetta Rangers dominating repeatedly at those age groups, you can barely find a player from those clubs in the team?!
“At that age, national youth teams should be an open door because anyone can tell you that only about two players at that level go on to make it at senior level. So you have to keep freshening the pool.
“But it seems to be a closed group with this team. If you are in, then you are in; and if you’re out of the group you have to stay out.”
T&T U-15s boys 20-member roster
1.Kanye Lazarus (Police FC/Presentation College, San F’do), 2.Christian Bailey (Caledonia AIA/Fatima College), 3.Dawn St Rose (W Connection/home schooled), 4.Jaron Pascall (Police FC/Carapichaima East), 5.Tyrik Trotman (Central FC/St Augustine Secondary), 6.Jaheim Marshall (Trendsetter Hawks/Trinity College Moka), 7.Abdul-Quddoos Hypolite (Police FC/St Mary’s College), 8.Jesse Molik Khan (W Connection/Naparima College), 9.Ja-Shawn Thomas (W Connection/Holy Cross College), 10.Nathaniel James (W Connection/Queen’s Royal College), 11.Josiah Wilson (W Connection/Trinity College East), 12.Tristan Stafford (Police FC/Queen’s Royal College), 13.Kassidy Davidson (W Connection/Bishop’s High School), 14.Jovonn Gomez (Police FC/Trinity College East), 15.Dantaye Gilbert (W Connection/Presentation College, San F’do), 16.Caleb Borneo (Columbus Crew/US-based), 17.Jaheim Faustin (San Juan Jabloteh/Trinity College East), 18.Tristan Edwards (Santa Cruz United Academy/St Augustine Secondary), 19.Isaiah Thompson (Point Fortin Civic Centre/Naparima College), 20.Jared Edmond (Players Evolution Academy/Fatima College).
Head Coach: Stuart Charles Fevrier