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‘Angus won’t be disappointed’; NACTM director discusses Soca Warriors combine in DC

“[…] A lot of the players who will attend are playing in college or maybe a MLS reserve team or the UPSL, which is like semi-professional football and has former college players or pro players who may have fallen off the grid due to injury or other reasons.

“[…] I don’t see Angus Eve being disappointed and saying this was a waste of my time, because we did a pre-screening…”

Image: A NACTM flier for its upcoming combine for Trinidad and Tobago Men’s National Senior and Under-20 Team players.
(via NACTM)

On 16 and 17 April 2022, the North American Caribbean Training Method (NACTM) will conduct screenings for potential Trinidad and Tobago Men’s National Senior Team and Under-20 Team players in Washington, DC. The event will be attended by Soca Warriors head coach Angus Eve.

NACTM director and Disney Idea sports coach Ashton Baptiste spoke to Wired868 about the initiative:

Wired868: What can you tell us about the North American Caribbean Training Method and the combine for potential Trinidad and Tobago Men’s National Under-20 and Senior Team players?

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Ashton Baptiste: Well, the mission of the NACTM (North American Caribbean Training Method) is to help the whole Caribbean as a region to get stronger and, in turn, the whole of Concacaf. We are from Trinidad and Tobago and want to do our part to bring Trinidad and Tobago back to where it was in its heyday, but really we are looking out for the entire Caribbean. 

(The NACTM caters, separately, for recreational, intermediate and advanced players.)

One of the things we do is we hold events and combines from time to time to give youths abroad the chance to be seen and known to Caribbean coaches. Our camps aren’t geared to any nationality in particular but caters to the Caribbean fraternity. It is a chance for talented players to say: ‘Here I am. I slipped through the cracks!’

Photo: Participants at a NACTM developmental camp in USA.
(via NACTM)

[…] This idea was born under the [North America Talent Identification and Player Pool] scouting programme created under former TTFA president William Wallace but it was not reinstated under the [Robert Hadad-led] normalisation committee. However, we reached out to Angus Eve and he was willing to work with us.

It started off as an Under-20 camp. But Angus said since he is going to be there and he is also coach of the Senior Team, then he doesn’t mind looking at some senior players as well. However, the majority of the players will be under 20.

Wired868: How do players get a spot? Is it just a matter of paying your way?

Baptiste: Players have to fill out a registration form which shows their level of play. ECNL is the lowest we will accept, which is a national league for youths that is just below MLS Next.

The cost is US$75 (which includes training shirts). We tried to keep the cost down as much as we can because we know some of the players still have to fly in and get hotels and so on. It will be held for four hours on each day, which includes a meet and greet at the beginning, with Angus explaining who he is, a warm-up session with licensed physios, and then training stations. 

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago head coach Angus Eve.
(via TTFA Media)

Each coach is responsible for a station which will put players through certain drills to showcase offensive skills on Saturday and then defensive skills on Sunday. And to end the day on both days, there will be half-hour 11 v 11 games with rotations. So A versus B, then A versus C, and B versus C. Each player will have about two hours to showcase what they can do in a game setting. 

So Angus can see the skill and tactical knowledge of the players in a small area at the training stations and during the game. 

Wired868: Do you expect there to be senior grade players who show up at this trial? Is it better than what Eve would get from scouting or going through game clips?

Baptiste: A lot of the players who will attend are playing in college or maybe a MLS reserve team or the UPSL, which is like semi-professional football and has former college players or pro players who may have fallen off the grid due to injury or other reasons. It is a stepping-stone league.

I coach a UPSL team and one of my players is now in the second division in Italy. It is all about their consistency and drive to reach their goal.

Photo: NACTM director Ashton Baptiste (right) and aspiring Trinidad and Tobago international player Jonathan Godette.
(via NACTM)

What will Angus find? I can give an example. There is a player coming from Orlando, who played for DC United academy from 11 to 18, and went to Amsterdam when the pandemic hit. He left and returned home just before things shut down. His name is Jonathan Godette.

So now with things opening up, we are trying to get him back out there with an agency. But he has no current videos, so it is harder for him although he trains with me four days a week. I’d say his style is similar to Duane Muckette, only he is a bit faster.

There will be a couple of players like that. I don’t see Angus being disappointed and saying this was a waste of my time, because we did a pre-screening […] where we went through the application info and contacted coaches to talk about the players. We obviously don’t have the budget to fly around to look at all the players in person. 

A few players were weeded out after speaking to their coaches. Sometimes it was about their behaviour or attitude. Sometimes we heard things like: ‘he is a good player but he likes talking back to the referee’ or ‘when the mental pressure kicks in, he starts arguing with his players,’ etc.

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