With the introduction of an under-12 seven-a-side competition, the Atlantic sponsored National Primary Schools Football League kicks off this year with nearly 350 teams.
That figure represents a huge increase over the 243 teams that competed in the league last year, as Atlantic embarks on its eighth year of supporting the league.
Immediately after the launch of the league, hosted at the VIP Lounge of the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain yesterday, a double-header was staged. Carenage Boys Government played Eastern Boys Government in the boys’ under-12 category, while the first girls match showcased under-15 action between St Agnes and Diamond Vale Government.
Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (T&TFA) technical director Anton Corneal said the under-12 category would develop youngsters into better future players.
“More participation, more touches of the ball. With smaller fields, there is more attack and defence which are really the two things the kids love to do. They love to score and they have to defend against scoring. That is the main item...kids come here to have fun.”
Corneal said that on bigger fields young players get lost and omitted from active play, but with a seven-a-side match, players must take responsibility.
“Players cannot hide anymore. When you have eleven players, three can be out of the game completely and the game is gonna continue to play. With seven players, the players will have to step up into each position,” Corneal said, adding that this new development plan followed the Dutch model.
Corneal said TTFA’s head of football, Leo Beenhakker saw the development plan and was very impressed. He added that Beenhakker brought that style of football to the national senior squad when he was at the helm back in 2005, and ushered T&T to the 2006 World Cup in Germany.
Yesterday, Atlantic’s manager, branding and communications, Derek Daniel handed 150 certificates to National Primary Schools Football League president, Vincent Graham for primary school coaches who were certified to international standard back in June under the Atlantic Coaching Excellence (ACE) programme. Four of those coaches will be selected for a FIFA training course in November.
Graham said he was pleased for his league to be associated with Atlantic.
“This is Atlantic’s eighth year of sponsorship, and we are grateful for their commitment and support of our young athletes. This year we expect the League to be quite competitive, and we look forward eagerly to see if Tobago schools will dominate again.”
Last year, Tobago won both the boys’ and girls’ competitions.
Graham also said he supported the introduction of the under-12 boys’ league.
“This league is in keeping with the vision of the TTFA and the Ministry of Sport and SPORTT...we think this will assist in the development of Trinidad and Tobago’s football, and we expect a greater number of teams to participate.