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Seven Connection players in T&T U-15 team; ‘Dada’ and Look Loy complain about poaching

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.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago National U-15 players (from left) Dantaye Gilbert, Jaheim Faustin and Jaheim Marshall pose after scoring a goal each in their 3-1 win over Aruba on 10 August 2018.
(Copyright TTFA Media)

“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.

Photo: Veteran Trendsetter Hawks coach Anthony “Dada” Wickham talks to his U-13 A team during RBYL North Zone U-13 action at the Queen’s Park Savannah on 4 May 2019.
(Copyright Allan V Crane/CA-Images/Wired868)

“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.”

Photo: FC Santa Rosa forward Ja-Shawn Thomas (centre) is surrounded by the entire Central FC defence during the RBNYL Under-11 final at the Hasely Crawford Stadium on 1 July 2017.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/CA Images/Wired868)

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.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago National Under-15 coach Stuart Charles-Fevrier (centre) talks to players during a training session.
(Courtesy TTFA Media)

“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 [12] 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.”

Photo: Naparima College midfielder Molik Khan (left) tries to escape from Bishops High School midfielder Ranaldo Johnson during SSFL action at Lewis Street on 3 October 2018.
(Copyright Allan V Crane/CA-Images/Wired868)

T&T U-15s boys 20-man Roster

Name/Club/School

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),

Photo: Then Trendsetter Hawks Under-11 attacker Abdul-Quddoos Hypolite shoots for goal against the Santa Cruz Under-13s during 2015 Republic Bank National Youth Cup action at the Queen’s Park Savannah.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

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

About Lasana Liburd

Lasana Liburd
Lasana Liburd is the CEO and Editor at Wired868.com and a journalist with over 20 years experience at several Trinidad and Tobago and international publications including Play the Game, World Soccer, UK Guardian and the Trinidad Express.

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2 comments

  1. I am Jameel Wilson, father of Josiah Wilson (highlighted in above caption). I would like to comment from a parents perspective. First off I would like to state that the coaches, management and staff of the Elite Programme have gone beyond the call in providing consistently high levels of practice sessions. The coaches have endured times where they have not been paid but the level of professionalism has never faltered.
    Let me also establish that Josiah did start off his early youth level football with Trendsetter Hawks. Josiah would undoubtedly always be a Trendsetter player. Dada and his staff provides a platform for youth development (ages 4-12) that in my opinion cannot be rivaled. The core group of youths from inner city and environs like my son (from Belmont) are given the opportunity to develop their individual skill while learning to share the field with other boys who may be just as good as them. As with all things in life people grow older and need to take on different challenges. At the age of 12 already attending Trinity College Mika and vying for places on the U14 squad Josiah needed to experience a different type of play and competition. It was at that age we agreed that Josiah would transfer to Police FC to play in the Pro League tournament as Trendsetter does not have a team competing in Pro League. After the first season with pro league Josiah was able to fly to Mexico as Police had won the first round of the league and gained eligibility to play in the Scotia Bank Cup. Josiah was also scouted for the National Elite Programme through the Pro league. The second year of Pro league Josiah was transferred to Caledonia and this year due to the intensity of practice for the August qualifiers in Bradington Josiah has not played for any Pro League or other team except for the National team Programme. The Elite Programme like I highlighted earlier opened my eyes to a different level of access for Josiah that I had not thought existed in Trinidad. The Programme is really geared towards full development for young teens. Coach Stewart Charles has a high level of football knowledge and the boys respond well to him. There are classroom sessions where videos of training and also games are reviewed. There are nutritionist, psychologist and even strength training sessions that are all documented individually for each child for gauging progress. The Programme is not without its challenges though as the 6 days a week sessions can be a burden for a parent coming from POS to Ato Boldon Stadium however the results encourages me to make the effort. I would like to state that there is no poaching taking place from Mr John Williams or W Connection or at least I can say clearly that for Josiah Wilson there has been no persuasion by people to leave one team for the other. Youths grow and progress and as they do there is always a need for greater challenges. It was unfortunate to see the post about poaching and attacking the Programme without even getting a call for me to try to rectify if there were mistakes. Especially as the boys are preparing and could see these things which would be a great distraction from the great task at hand. Trinity East was also posted in error as Josiah attends Trinity Moka however with a call from the Trinity manager I was able to talk to Coach Webb who quickly rectified this. It’s my hope that the coaches, the management different associations get it together and keep the LOVE in the football as it is only then we can truly get what’s best for the boys. Put the development of the players first so that T and T could once more rival the world.

  2. I share the same sentiments expressed by Mr. Keith Look Loy and Coach Dada from Trendsetter Hawks football club, that players are being poached from other clubs namely Connection,also having two plAyers awaiting selection for the Elite Team two years ago and not being considered for selection from the Ste.Madeleine Strikers Football Club is unfair however one was taken toto play pro league for Connection this year no transfer was done, the other remained and played and was voted most valuable player on four occasions in the Republic Bank Youth Cup and cannot get a call for National Selection.