Trinidad and Tobago national under-15 footballers will rush off to the Cayman Islands early this morning, go straight into action tonight, and also have to play another match the following day. It all seems so much for a team of under-15 footballers.
Following the late release of funds by the Ministry of Sport, frantic arrangements were made yesterday to rush the T&T Under-15s to the inaugural CONCACAF Under 15 Football Championships, which run from August 14-25.
The team was originally due to depart for the Caymans yesterday according to an earlier release by the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA), which yesterday issued further information about new arrangements.
“Please be advised that the Trinidad and Tobago’s Boys Under 15 team will now depart for the Cayman Islands on Wednesday morning (today) at approximately 6 a.m. instead of today (Tuesday),’” the TTFA said in a release through its media officer Shaun Fuentes. “This has resulted due to the unavailability of flights departing out of Port of Spain today. The funding for the team’s airfare was only received from the Ministry of Sport yesterday, and the TTFA remains appreciative of the support provided. CONCACAF has been notified and have pushed back the kick off time for T&T’s game tomorrow vs St Kitts/Nevis to 8 p.m.
Trinidad and Tobago’s footballers will now leave at 6.20 a.m. this morning via a special Copa Airlines flight. They have a few hours to get settled before going into action tonight against St Kitts-Nevis. The bunch also have another match the following day against Honduras.
Yesterday, a TTFF source said that Trinidad and Tobago would have faced CONCACAF sanctions had the team withdrawn from the competition at the last minute, and while the help from the Ministry of Sport is appreciated, a better arrangement is needed for national teams going into competition. The source said that the late arrangement was especially tough on a developmental team, since most of the players were new to national team football and had not travelled before.
The T&T squad includes some players attached to local Pro League clubs including midfielder Renaldo Francois of Defence Force, Kareem Riley and Kierron Mason of W Connection, Travell Edwards of St Ann’s Rangers. There are other players such as defender Sharkell Louison of Moruga FC and Jesse Joseph of Joe Public FC. They are trained by former national under-17 coach Shawn Cooper, who has former national players Leonson Lewis, Terrence Marcelle and Ross Russell as his assistants.
On finalising his final 18-member squad, Cooper said he was happy with their most recent sessions.
“We have been shaping up pretty nicely, and the last few sessions were pretty sharp, and the players are very eager to play their first game for the country,” Cooper said. “There are players in the squad from both the Pro League clubs from the TTFA Super League and a couple other lower leagues. We did a comprehensive look around the country even though it happened over a short period of time, and we saw some really good talent, which eventually saw us come down to a 30-man squad before the final 18 players were selected.
“We will continue to work with the entire pool, but this opportunity for the boys traveling to the Caymans is a great one in terms of getting that exposure to playing international opposition at this particular age group.”
TODAY – T&T vs St Kitts/Nevis
TOMORROW – T&T vs Honduras
August 17th – T&T vs Curacao
August 19th – T&T vs St Martin
August 21st – T&T vs Guadeloupe