Gateway Athletics director Adrian Romain confirmed today that the grand winners of the Republic Cup Youth Football Tournament will walk away with TT$3,000 each.
The competition, which will be run in a seven-a-side format, has five categories: Boys 17-19, Girls 17-19, Boys Under-16, Girls Under-16 and Boys Under-14.
The overall national winners for each category are promised TT$3,000 each while second and third will get TT$2,250 and TT$1,250 respectively. At zonal level, winners are due TT$500 each while the second and third-placed teams will receive medals.
Clubs are asked to pay a registration fee of TT$300 for each team that competes while there is a discounted rate of TT$250 if a club registers teams in three different age-groups. It means that Republic Bank will spend TT$45,000 on cash prizes for the 2022 youth football competition—not considering registration fees collected.
Gateway Athletics director Shem Alexander noted that the competition is likely to revert to its usual 11-a-side format for the 2023 season. He suggested that ‘not having ample time to plan since the return of play’ along with the supposed drop in numbers at local football academies—he cited SKHY FC as an example—were key factors in their decision to go ‘small goal’.
“The switch is not a permanent one and is just for this year,” Alexander told Wired868. “The bank felt that a lot of teams after the pandemic would not be able to field 11 v 11 teams… So just for this year they decided to go 7v7, but long term they want 11 v 11.
“[…] Next year, God willing, it will be going back to the original format.”
Alexander also clarified Romain’s assertion that there will be ‘college coaches from the US and the UK actually visiting the Republic Cup to scout players’.
Rather, he explained that some of the ‘student-athletes’ selected for the Republic Cup All-star teams will be selected to attend the Bill Hamid Residential Summer Camp from 16-22 July at the Blue Ridge High School in Charlottesville, Virginia.
“There will be over 25 club and college coaches there, so it is a wonderful platform for kids to be seen,” said Alexander, who noted that Gateway Athletics hosted a ‘college showcase’ for US and UK scouts in February 2022. “Gateway Athletics is a US recruitment programme.”
Romain listed Trinidad and Tobago Women’s National Senior Team midfielder Chelcy Ralph, former Women’s National Under-20 Team defender Shalisha King, Fatima College and QRC defender Mossiah Griffith and St Augustine Secondary captain Anthony Samuel as players who have progressed through Gateway Athletics to scholarships at Ball State University, Alcorn State University, Illinois Central College and KCC Community College respectively.
Secondary Schools Football League (SSFL) president Merere Gonzales suggested that Gateway Athletics is a ‘conduit’ for student-athletes interested in scholarships to United States universities.
“[Gateway Athletics is] on board as a middleman, so to speak, primarily to act as a conduit,” said Gonzales, “to ensure that the student-athletes within the respective schools of T&T, and even those within the football academies and clubs, are given the opportunity to chart their football career through football scholarships for colleges and/or universities, local as well as regional, as well as international.”