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T&T national U-14 boys miss CFU tourney, as N/C fails to raise the funding

Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) technical director Anton Corneal called for the prioritising of the local football body’s development programmes after a second national youth team was forced to forfeit an international tournament in the space of two weeks.

Last month, the TTFA withdrew its Girls National Under-15 Team from the Concacaf Championship, which kicked off in Tampa, Florida on 31 July. And, on Tuesday, it was the turn of the Boys National Under-14 outfit.

Photo: Anguilla Boys National Under-14 players get ready for CFU action.
(via CFU)

Yesterday, the Caribbean Football Union (CFU) Boys Under-14 Challenge Series kicked off in the Dominican Republic without the twin island republic and Corneal told Wired868 it was the same problem: no funds.

“It is no different to the Girls Team,” said Corneal, “because of the cost of going to the Dominican Republic, the TTFA just doesn’t have the funding to do it.”

On Thursday, the TTFA revealed that its Men’s Team would travel to Thailand in October to participate in a four-nation tournament called the King’s Cup. The local football body did not provide any financial details but it is presumed that the Thailand FA would pick up the tab for the Soca Warriors.

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In contrast, the TTFA, now steered by a Robert Hadad-led Fifa-appointed normalisation committee, needed to pay its own travel cost for its youth teams while accommodation and meals would be provided by the Concacaf or CFU respectively.

Photo: Fifa-appointed normalisation committee chairman Robert Hadad (right) with Trinidad and Tobago Men’s National Senior Team and U-20 Team head coach Angus Eve in March 2022.
(Copyright Daniel Prentice/ Wired868)

Fifa also provides an annual travel allowance to all FAs to help offset such bills. But, even then, the local football body said it could not afford to and a late plea to the Ministry of Sport and Community Development for financial assistance was unsuccessful.

“I am hoping that the money comes on stream to give these teams the necessary exposure to dream, to grow, and to see the international standards,” said Corneal, “and to get the experience of playing, leaving the country, socialising—exposure is so important.”

The disappointed national youth players will now be expected to switch their focus to the upcoming Secondary Schools Football League (SSFL). Corneal noted that the under-14/15 outfits operate as “higher performance teams” and will train for eight months every year, whether or not there is a competition to enter.

Photo: The then Trinidad and Tobago National Under-15 Team players pose before kick off against a Republic Bank XI at the Ato Boldon Stadium on 15 April 2017.
(Courtesy Sean Morrison/ Wired868)

“It is a high performance programme where training is of a certain intensity,” said Corneal, who explained that each team caters for about 40 players. “We do sessions which are based on the development of the game for those players. One day we may do speed of play with combination passes, or individual pressing, small-sided games with a specific objective, transitional play, etc. 

“So it is slightly different to a national team. This is preparation for players who may be on a national team one day.”

Due to Hadad’s inability to raise funding or allocate sufficient resources for the junior teams, their first taste of international football will have to wait.

About Lasana Liburd

Lasana Liburd
Lasana Liburd is the managing director and chief 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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One comment

  1. Hannibal Najjar

    As a High School teacher, and University Adjunct Professor (and lifetime student) I have always blended two teaching-learning principles that I believe to be key keys to better guarantee learning and secondly, to assist students realize their truest potentials and compete with other students in the “world” – the true and customary test. The first principle is one that is understood and utilized in school systems and it is wrapped in the CAP(S) teaching-learning model. Teachers seek to help students develop in the key areas of the, Cognitive (increasing knowledge), Affective (bursting open their enthusiasm), Psychomotor (increasing their mind-and-body skillsets) and, Social/Spiritual (bringing in the dimensions that enhance human interaction and integrating higher order thinking). Secondly, as I have found to be true for eternity, is the model where teachers employ the strategy of, “I tell and you listen (explain the “text” and context), I show and you watch (demonstrate what was told) and, I let and you do (give assignments to enhance their understanding).” This sequence can be be repeated as needed. So for our student-athletes, these National U-14 boys and girls (if I am allowed to distinguish) are being deprived of the third component, the “Do it” stage. We “told” these youngsters, we “showed” them, and now, DID NOT “let” them explore through doing. I am unable to understand just how this NC, 2-and-one-half years old, could not have gathered the most basic funds to hold up our hopes. I also understand that overdue funds for past coaches are still outstanding and so I ask, what has FIFA pledged to help this country when they seem to have taken their feet off the throttle? We are sliding down a slippery slope. Each passing opportunity for being able to “let them do” increases the setbacks exponentially. And further, as it is being witnessed, if this nonparticipating trend continues, then even the home-based coaching/teaching suffers. Coaches become despondent and lethargic as they too are not getting to see the results of their efforts. Haddad knows of what I speak. He understands organizational success and very sound businessman. Noteworthy, he is a past footballer himself. He sponsors one of the most competitive steel bands in the storied history of our country, let alone, pan arranger, Boogsie Professor Sharpe. I know that finances have been depleting for years with the T&TFA and there appears to be no sign of that changing soon. But, I tell you this, as for this need, per our youth programs and the sustenance of a hopeful future, I am confident that, “When there is a will there is a way”, and as my former Club, Essex’s motto says, “The will does it.” And most of all, as my namesake, Carthaginian General Hannibal Barca insists, “If you cannot find a way, make one.” He crossed the Alps on occasion and did so with men and elephants instilling fear on Rome. Make a way Robert! Help him Nigel, your love for football runs in your family too! Two financial wizards – roll up your sleeves. My estimation tells that we have been set back ten years all things being equal. And by that I specifically mean joining tier one (top six) of CONCACAF. With setbacks as these with the youth teams, we even have to be concerned if we still belong to the second tier (we should survive this challenge).