RBNYFL 24: Webb, Fraser, O’Brien, Archer and Mariah among all-star standouts


Seventeen-year-old Premier Sports Club forward Malachi Webb had another chance to show his worth on the weekend, as Gateway Athletic put on the 2024 Republic Bank National Youth Football League (RBNYFL) Student-Athlete College Fair & Showcase.

And, as a growing number of defenders and goalkeepers across Trinidad and Tobago could tell you, Webb—a fifth form student at St Benedict’s College—is not one to let chances go.

Premier Sports Club forward Malachi Webb (centre) runs at opposing defenders Joshua Demas (left) and Hasheem Hill during the RBNYFL All-Star Showcase at the Hasely Crawford Stadium Training Field on 4 May 2024.
Photo: Nicholas Bhajan/ Wired868

On an all-star weekend, there was one teenage star that shone brightest.

Trinity College East defender Hasheem Hill, who gave a good account of himself for the Power To Make A Difference XI in the affair, was asked to name the opposing player who had the biggest wow factor in his play.


His Pro Series teammate and Queen’s Royal College (QRC) playmaker Tau Lamsee, who was within earshot, could not fathom why Hill hesitated.

“Tell him Webb!” Lamsee whispered, loudly.

Premier SC forward Malachi Webb (left) sets his sights on goal while Pro Series defender Hasheem Hill tries to get off the floor during RBNYFL quarterfinal action at the Larry Gomes Stadium in Malabar on 28 April 2024.
Photo: Daniel Prentice/ Wired868

Webb and Lamsee played together on the Trinidad and Tobago National Under-17 team last year while the powerful, pacey forward almost single-handedly eliminated Pro Series from the RBNYFL Under-20 quarterfinal round, with four goals in a 4-3 win.

Yet, Webb, who represented Right Start on Saturday, still retains the capacity to surprise.

“He is direct and strong on the ball,” Lamsee told Wired868. “Once you give him a half-space, he is taking it!”

Premier Sports Club forward Malachi Webb (right) holds off Pro Series defender Hasheem Hill during the RBNYFL All-Star Showcase at the Hasely Crawford Stadium Training Field on 4 May 2024.
Photo: Nicholas Bhajan/ Wired868

On Saturday mid-morning at the Hasely Crawford Stadium Training Field, the only thing more menacing than the overhead sun was the forward with the short dreads and #17 shirt.

Get too close to him as a defender and he would roll off you and be on his bike. Stand back and he would treat you to a stepover routine, which could see him shoot off to his left or right.

(Trying to guess his preferred side is like trying to figure out which cup the ball is under at those May Fiesta games.)

Once Webb got a head start, he invariably put his body between the ball and the defender—and you would not see it again. He scored twice on Saturday in a comprehensive 5-1 win, but that did not begin to tell the problems he caused for Power To Make A Difference.

Premier SC forward Malachi Webb (left) evades a defender during the RBNYFL All-Star Showcase at the Hasely Crawford Stadium Training Field on 4 May 2024.
Photo: Nicholas Bhajan/ Wired868

“[Webb] is definitely one for the future,” said Power To Make A Difference coach Nyron Jones. “He was excellent throughout the game [with] his aggressiveness and his directness. He always has confidence to take on that player one v one and sometimes two v one…”

If Webb was the headline act—and he was—there were other boys who caught the eye too.

“I think the goalkeeper Isaiah Diaz would have showed his leadership quality and his experience,” said Jones, who is also head coach at PUFA FC.

Prison FC goalkeeper Isaiah Diaz saves a penalty from San Juan Jabloteh flanker Andell Fraser during the RBNYFL All-Star Showcase at the Hasely Crawford Stadium Training Field on 4 May 2024.
Photo: Nicholas Bhajan/ Wired868

Diaz, the Arima North Secondary custodian who represented Prison FC in the RBNYFL, saved a second half penalty from Andell Fraser to cap a decent individual performance in the circumstances.

“[Kaielle] Elliot and Tau Lamsee also showed themselves excellent [sic]—in terms of ball retention and managing the game in the key moments,” said Jones, “setting up the next phase of attack, keeping the team together.

“It was consistent throughout the 90 minutes from those boys.”

Pro Series midfielder Tau Lamsee (centre) runs with the ball during RBNYFL All-Star action at the Hasely Crawford Stadium Training Field on 4 May 2024.
Photo: Nicholas Bhajan/ Wired868

Jones’ star-studded line-up included Pro Series forward and former Malick Secondary captain Lendelle Baptiste, Naparima College and City FC custodian Tyrese Romain and St Benedict’s College forward Jaden Grant.

Lamsee was tidy in possession, with well-timed flashes of creativity. (Qualities, incidentally, that were sorely missing in coach Brian Haynes’ National Under-20 team’s midfield.)

But, as he flopped to the bench in the second half, Lamsee summed up the game painfully well to a teammate.

City FC goal scorer Luke Correia (centre) is congratulated by teammates Theron O’Brien (second from left) and Andell Fraser (far left) while opposing goalkeeper Tyrese Romain (far right) complains during the RBNYFL All-Star Showcase at the Hasely Crawford Stadium Training Field on 4 May 2024.
Photo: Nicholas Bhajan/ Wired868

“I could hardly touch the flipping ball!” Lamsee said. “It was just running, running, running…”

At the other end, Right Start coach Jeremy McMeo, head coach of Hillview College, was extracting far more from his roster than Jones.

In goal, Pro Series custodian Shemuel Cassimy played the role of director as he coaxed and cajoled his 10 outfield players constantly. Their backline was unflappable, as tends to be the case when central defender Akil “Smooth” Henry—another Pro Series player—is involved.

Pro Series defender Akil Henry initiates an attack for his team during the RBNYFL All-Star Showcase at the Hasely Crawford Stadium Training Field on 4 May 2024.
Photo: Nicholas Bhajan/ Wired868

Cassimy and Henry represent QRC and Arima North respectively.

San Juan Jabloteh full backs Joshua Lewis (San Juan North Secondary) and Jadon McShine (East Mucurapo Secondary) were no slouches either, while Trinity College East and Blue Hawks defender Nicholas Whiteman was solid too.

“McShine played very well,” said MIC Matura ReUnited and Arima North midfielder Theron O’Brien, when asked about the players who surprised him. “He was just doing the simple things consistently. He made the football look very easy.”

Pro Series midfielder Tom Decle (right) tries to hold off MIC Matura ReUnited midfielder Theron O’Brien during RBNYFL All-Star action at the Hasely Crawford Stadium Training Field on 4 May 2024.
Photo: Nicholas Bhajan/ Wired868

O’Brien, who was late to the match, and City FC’s David Hospedales were the glue between Right Start’s defence and offence, who ensured that their team was far more balanced than their opponents’ collection of stars.

McMeo, for his part, picked Webb, O’Brien, Fraser, Chad King, Henry McShine—especially McShine, as he put it—and Lewis as his standouts on the day.

“The energy between both teams was very high,” said McMeo. “There was a lot of talent on display. This is the future of the country.”

Blue Hawks defender Nicholas Whiteman (right) tries to initiate an attack for his team during RBNYFL All-Star action at the Hasely Crawford Stadium Training Field on 4 May 2024.
Photo: Nicholas Bhajan/ Wired868

The girls all-star game, which kicked off after lunch, did not disappoint either. Once more, Power To Make A Difference were runaway winners—this time, with a 5-0 score summary.

Cherina Steele looked quite useful in midfield for Right Start, while Shurelia Mendez was an elusive customer on the flank and Ahmeeda Bowman and Calypso Ayoung give decent accounts of themselves in defence.

But it was a mismatch.

PTMAD midfielder Daneelyah Salandy (left) leaves opposing Right Start flanker Naima Julius in her wake during RBNYFL All-Star action at the Hasely Crawford Stadium Training Field on 4 May 2024.
Photo: Nicholas Bhajan/ Wired868

Taya Williams and Mikaela Yearwood were unruffled in defence for Power To Make A Difference, with Yearwood looking quite efficient in possession too.

Goalkeeper Janike Ramoutar’s distribution and command of her area and defence were impressive, while right back Kanika Rodriguez looked the part without ever getting out of first gear.

Forward Rasheda Archer threatened throughout and made light work of opposing goalkeeper Mercedes Balthazar, while midfielder Daneelyah “DD” Salandy was a box of tricks and the versatile Anastasia O’Brien was a potent combination of energy and purpose.

PTMAD forward Rasheda Archer (right) tries to outrun Right Start utility player Calypso Ayoung during RBNYFL All-Star action at the Hasely Crawford Stadium Training Field on 4 May 2024.
Photo: Nicholas Bhajan/ Wired868

However, flanker Mariah Williams was another proposition altogether on the day, capable of beating her opposing full back on the outside or inside and crossing the ball with either foot.

“The organisation was good,” said Boston College head coach Francesco D’Agostino, who was one of three US college coaches at the Port of Spain venue on Saturday. “I think the level is higher overall this year, especially on the women’s side.

“I can see some of these girls getting picked up and going on to play at a good level, whereas last year it was a little bit lower…”

PTMAD flanker Mariah Williams (left) advances with the ball during the RBNYFL All-Star Showcase at the Hasely Crawford Stadium Training Field on 4 May 2024.
Photo: Nicholas Bhajan/ Wired868

All three coaches, who are from NCAA Division One schools, were pleased with what they saw on this trip to Trinidad and Tobago.

“Right now, we are at the end of our 2024 recruiting calendar,” coach Alejandro Rangel told Wired868, “so for us at the University of North Florida, we are looking just for specific positions to fill so that we can close that out.

“And also, we want to get to know the area and see what might be available for 2025.”

United States soccer coaches (from left) Charlie Hubbard, Alejandro Rangel and Francesco D’Agostino take notes during the RBNYFL All-Star Showcase at the Hasely Crawford Stadium Training Field on 4 May 2024.
Photo: Nicholas Bhajan/ Wired868

He gave tips into what gets a player jotted into their notebooks.

“If it’s a defender, we want to make sure he is physical and he doesn’t get beat,” said Rangel. “If you are a winger, making sure you can get past people and make a difference in the game. As a forward, we want to see you can score goals and as a centre mid, create goal scoring opportunities and things like that.

“So dependent on what each person’s need is and what each person’s eye is. Everyone’s eye is always a little bit different as well.”

PTMAD defender Kanika Rodriguez (left) tries to play the ball past opposing attacker Eva Nicholas during RBNYFL All-Star action at the Hasely Crawford Stadium Training Field on 4 May 2024.
Photo: Nicholas Bhajan/ Wired868

IFE director Christopher Saul potentially offers a different route off the island. Last year, he took goalkeeper Tor Fletcher and flanker Chris Bailey to Germany for trials.

Fletcher, Saul explained, is likely to go the college route in the United States although Bailey, a Fatima College student who also represented QPCC in the TTPFL Tier 2, may have a chance to turn pro.

“It is not about chasing crazy dreams, it is allowing players to develop and grow—and see where their success is, and guiding and mentoring them,” said Saul.

Fatima College flanker Christian Bailey (foreground) keeps his eye on the ball during NGC SSFL Super Cup action against St Benedict’s College at the Hasely Crawford Stadium on 9 September 2023.
Photo: Daniel Prentice/ Wired868

Wired868 enquired about the costs for families of such expeditions.

“It depends on the case,” said Saul. “If we have an athlete who is an extreme talent, we do everything in our possibility to get him over there and support him.

“If the player is not professional-ready, then of course he has got to invest in his time there—because there is [the cost of] housing and things. But we do our best to set him up for success and make sure it is affordable.”

MIC Matura ReUnited midfielder Sion Prospere (right) tries to outfox City FC attacker Luke Correia during RBNYFL All-Star action at the Hasely Crawford Stadium Training Field on 4 May 2024.
Photo: Nicholas Bhajan/ Wired868

IFE, he said, has relationships with professional clubs like Bayer Leverkusen, Borussia Monchengladbach. The question is if the player has the talent and work ethic to survive at that level.

“If you are not at that level, you have to invest in that time [to stay in Germany],” said Saul. “We have players we are investing in, and we have players that are investing in themselves.”

Gateway Athletics managing director Shem Alexander, who has overriding responsibility for the RBNYFL, expressed gratitude to Republic Bank for sponsoring the three-day showcase through its Power To Make A Difference programme.

Attacker Shurelia Mendez controls the ball during RBNYFL All-Star action at the Hasely Crawford Stadium Training Field on 4 May 2024.
Photo: Nicholas Bhajan/ Wired868

This year, he said that Gateway spent more time getting information on its players so as to ensure they were “more college-ready”, and he commended the teenagers for taking the opportunity to show their quality.

“The coaches were very pleased with the talent that they saw,” said Alexander. “So, it is a matter of getting the [student] transcripts to see who are eligible or not. Some of the players they were interested in didn’t have their transcripts yet.”

Fraser, a St Anthony’s College and Jabloteh flanker, was happy to show what he can do. The talented attacker was a reserve on the National Under-20 team.

Utility player Taya Williams (right) tries to keep the ball from opposing midfielder Cherina Steele during RBNYFL All-Star action at the Hasely Crawford Stadium Training Field on 4 May 2024.
Photo: Nicholas Bhajan/ Wired868

“I think I had a great performance and a great team [to play with],” Fraser told Wired868. “All I wanted was a recognisation of myself. I find I should get recognised more.

“[…] My goal is to play professional [football] and to take my mother out of the hood in Sea Lots.”

On Saturday, Fraser showed eye-catching dribbling ability, while his workrate and exchanges with teammates like Webb, O’Brien and Luke Correia demonstrated that he is becoming a more versatile attacker.

San Juan Jabloteh attacker Andell Fraser (left) tries to take the ball around Pro Series defender Hasheem Hill during RBNYFL All-Star action at the Hasely Crawford Stadium Training Field on 4 May 2024.
Photo: Nicholas Bhajan/ Wired868

At this rate, Fraser will surely come good in the future.

For Webb, though, the future seems to be at the doorstep already. It is not a question of whether the college coaches are interested in him—that would be a no-brainer.

The question is: where does Webb want to try his hand next? Does he want to further his education? Or gamble on heading straight into the professional arena?

Premier Sports Club forward Malachi Webb scored twice in the RBNYFL All-Star Showcase at the Hasely Crawford Stadium Training Field on 4 May 2024.
Photo: Nicholas Bhajan/ Wired868

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