Away from international football for just over two years, all-time Trinidad and Tobago leading goalscorer Stern John is getting ready to re-enter the game from in a different capacity.
John will join a list of ex-former national football stars who have entered coaching as he now looks ahead to being the featured head coach of the Trinidad and Tobago Football 7s Academy.
The T&T football 7s academy is affiliated to the Miami Soccer 7s Academy which is based in Soccer Town, Pembroke Pines, and founded by Trinidadian Sham Mohammed. It will cater for kids 6-17 years old as well as adults and will stage training sessions three times per week.
John and current Minister of Sport Brent Sancho were on hand in Miami last October to play in an exhibition game at the launch of the Soccer 7s Academy at which Brazilian Alexandre Soares is the head coach.
Now John will spearhead the T&T Academy which will open its first branch at the Henry St Recreation Ground in Trincity next month. That is the same ground where John grew up playing both football and cricket.
“It’s an amazing opportunity for me and it couldn’t have come at a better time,” John told TTFA Media. “Obviously I’ve been out of international football for a while but I’ve kept in touch with the game and I’ve always wanted the opportunity to give back, especially in Trinidad and Tobago.
‘’I’m really excited to be working with the kids. We’ll be teaching them the basics of the game but also showing them more about life skills off the field and creating opportunities for them to learn about living healthy lifestyles and adapting to face every day life situations,” John added.
“We are working around the clock to see this come off the ground as we want to really make it attractive and worth the while, especially for the youngsters and our ambition to drive football 7s locally,’ said the former Birmingham City and Crystal Palace striker.
There will be provision also for underprivileged kids at the academy which will eventually branch out in other areas of the country. The Football 7s Academy, through its Miami outlet, hosted an 8-team tournament last month for adults which saw the winning team walk away with a US4,000 first prize.
And there are plans to stage similar tournaments in Trinidad with more attractive cash prizes, according to Mohammed, the founder of the academy. Opportunities for football scholarships and international participation in tournaments will also be at stake.
Football 7 is growing and has aroused the interest of major stars of world football. The Brazilian League brings together great idols enshrined in the teams participating in the competition. The same happens in other parts of South America and Europe.
Former Argentina captain Juan Pablo Sorin and ex-Real Madrid and Vasco da Gama defender Dejan Petkovic are just two of the former stars who are now involved in football 7s. Additional information on registration and the launch for the T&T Academy will be presented in the coming weeks.