Former Trinidad and Tobago Men’s National Under-15 attacker Jovonn Gomes took home the Golden Boot trophy and clinched selection to the Republic Cup Youth Football Tournament’s All Star team, after leading Trincity Nationals to the Trinidad Boys Under-19 title at the Ato Boldon Stadium Training Field in Couva on Sunday.
Gomes struck late with his third goal of the competition in the final, as Trincity Nationals, the East Zone champions, defeated Cox Football Academy 1-0.
Trincity Nationals, like the other winners on the day, will play the Tobago champions and runners-up in a round-robin competition at the Dwight Yorke Stadium in Bacolet, Tobago on 3 August.
From 26 participants representing the North, East, and South/Central zones, the winners row read: Cox Football Academy (Girls Under-15), Achievers & San Fernando Academy (Girls Under-19), QPCC (Boys Under-14), 123 Goodness (Boys Under-16), and Trincity Nationals (Boys Under-19).
Only the Cox FA girls will not travel to Tobago, since the Sister Isle did not have a Girls Under-15 competition.
The national winners are due to receive cheques for TT$3,000 with rewards of TT$2,250 and TT$1,250 for second and third place respectively. Zonal winners will receive TT$500 each.
On Sunday, the competition was sprinkled with former national under-14 and under-15 players, like the Trincity Nationals standout, Gomes. And, thankfully, the weather was good and the pitches were flawless, as fans enjoyed a day of quick, attacking football—notwithstanding four injuries that required attending from standby ambulances but were not particularly serious.
123 Goodness, the North Zone champions from Carenage, produced perhaps the biggest upset of the day as they shocked the Point Fortin Youth Academy, the South/Central Zone champions, 1-0 in the final. Josiah Sutton grabbed the winner with a neat late finish to decide the contest.
PFYA’s attacking gem Xarion France ended as the Under-16 division’s top scorer with three goals while the 123 Goodness pair of midfielder Ronaldinho Richards and utility player Mich’al John scored two goals each.
Wencelaus John, the head coach and co-founder of 123 Goodness, said his team epitomised team spirit and credited the hard work done in training at the La Horquetta or L’anse Mitan recreation grounds.
The Boys Under-14 final was a cagy affair as QPCC edged Union Hall 1-0. The Parkites played conservative and patient football, particularly in the knockout stage, but proved to be deserved winners after Seth Hadeed’s left-footed snapshot separated the two finalists.
In the Girls U-19 division, Achievers & San Fernando Academy captured the national title with three group-stage wins (one via kicks from the penalty mark) while North Zone’s Score For Cancer finished second with two wins and one loss.
Cox Football Academy also had a perfect record in the Girls Under-15 competition, as they won all three matches with Natalia Gosine scoring four goals in the process.
Score for Cancer were again runners-up, although former National Under-14 forward Rasheeda Archer topped the scoring charts with five goals—the best individual tally on the day.
Score For Cancer also recorded the highest winning margin, as they trounced Kamillionaire FC 6-0. And, remarkably, 13 of their players were selected on the Girls All Star Team—an especially remarkable statistic for a seven-a-side competition.
The seven-a-side format was one of several significant changes in the 2022 Republic Bank youth tournament, which moved from All Sports Promotions to Gateway Athletics International this year.
Trinidad and Tobago Women’s National Under-17 and Under-20 Team head coach Jason Spence, who steered the Jason Spence Soccer Academy to the South/Central Under-19 title and third place in the Trinidad competition on Sunday, described the 2022 Republic Cup Youth Football Tournament as a success.
“I must say that it is running quite smoothly,” said Spence, who is also the head coach of the Gateway Athletics team for the TT WoLF competition. “This is all about the kids and it is so pleasing to see them out there expressing themselves and having a great time.
“Just looking at the zonal winners receiving their prizes right after is such a joy… These small sided type tournaments are definitely the way to go.”
Gateway Athletics is run by director of operations Adrian Romain and managing director Shem Alexander. Alexander also coached Football With A Cause in the Republic Cup. They finished as defeated semifinalists in the Under-19 competition.
Spence expects that the competition would attract more girls teams in 2023 and suggested that a girls under-12 division be added.
“All in all, now that sport is fully reopened and the Republic Cup is back,” he said, “I am sure next year more girls teams will be a part of it.”
Up next, Gateway Athletics will host a symposium for 30 male and 30 female footballers at Cascadia Hotel, St Ann’s, on Friday morning.
Darrel Marcelle, head coach at Edmonds College (USA) and former Women’s National Senior Team assistant coach, will make a presentation necessary for student-athletes to attain scholarships to the United States. Experienced educator Ann Braithwaite will also advise players on how to approach the SAT exams.
The All Star players will enjoy a cocktail event that evening at the same venue, while there will be a “Player Skills Camp” from 10pm on Saturday and then 11-a-side All Star matches from 3pm on Sunday at UTT Ground, O’Meara.
The tournament organisers explained that the All Star teams (see below) were selected based on recommendations from participating coaches and tournament ambassador Robert Primus, who is a former Soca Warriors defender and World Youth Cup player.
Alexander reiterated that Republic Bank will not send an all-star team to a residential camp in Virginia, which was described as a “mix-up”.
“Gateway Athletics [are] going to Virginia but this is separate and apart from the Republic Cup tournament,” he said.
Alexander also suggested that the Republic Bank competition will return to its traditional 11-a-side format next year.
“Based on what the bank seems to want to do, it will revert to the 11-v-11,” he said.
Group winners: Cox Football Academy
Runners-up: Score For Cancer
Group winners: Achievers & San Fernando SA
Runners-up: Score For Cancer
Boys Under-14 Final
QPCC 1 (Seth Hadeed), Point Fortin Youth Academy 0;
Boys Under-16 Final
123 Goodness 1 (Josiah Sutton), Point Fortin Youth Academy 0;
Boys Under-19 Final
Trincity Nationals 1 (Jovonn Gomes), Cox Football Academy 0.
Boys All Star Teams
Power to Make A Difference: Leonnes Neptune, Harrison Parks, Jovonn Gomes, Dwight Jordan (all Trincity Nationals), Amaree Tony (Futgof), David Charles (Southern Oilers), Lyshawn Morris (Point Fortin YA), Ferron Dhyllon (MIC IT), Deshawn Brown, Jamel Hargreaves (both Malabar FC), Jemaul Ashing, Andrew Nicome (both Football With A Cause), Seth Hadeed (QPCC), Dante Cooper (Coopers Coaching Academy), Yohance Nurse (Macoya Tigers).
Coach: Anthony Selby (QPCC).
Right Start: Mikel Alfonso, Darrel Garcia (both Cox Football Academy), Shirvon Lewis (Malabar FC), Jaden Richardson, Nickel Dublin (both Ball Blasters Tobago), Andre Providence, Angel Aragonnes (both Football With A Cause), Jeremiah Daniel (Union Hall United), Jabari Ahing (Southern Oilers), Jeremiah Niles, Xarion France, Isaiah Jacob (all Point Fortin Youth Academy), Desailly Cowan, Jaydon Crichlow (both Macoya Tigers), Hakeem Lord (MIC IT).
Coach: Joel Warrick (Trincity Nationals).
Girls All Star Teams
Power to Make a Difference: Serella Robaly (COFA), Tyesha Griffith (Cardinals), Orielle Martin, Rasheeda Archer, Daneelyah Salandy, Mariah Williams, Katelyn Darmant, Anastasia O’Brien, Cherina Steele (all Score for Cancer), Akilah Gomez, Sherice Nickie, Shania Edwards, Makala Fournillier, Shaliza Munga (all Jason Spence Soccer Academy), Kimora Mitchell (UULS).
Coach: Prescott Nanan (San Fernando Achievers).
Right Start: Rayniah Renne, Nikita Gosine, Natalia Gosine (all Cox Football Academy), Tayeann Wylie, Amanda Nannan, Aaliyah Hudlin, Janike Ramoutar, Raylana Francis (all San Fernando Achievers), Angel Beros, Trishell Charles, Breanna Smith, Jessica Harrigan, Faith Alexander, Hannah Vieira (all Score for Cancer), Priscilla Frasier (COFA).
Coach: Jason Spence (Jason Spence Soccer Academy).