Shabazz consults with European coaches
Trinidad and Tobago Senior Men's team Co-head coach, Jamaal Shabazz is currently in Europe observing clubs and the training methods used in UEFA.
Shabazz was able to witness Belgian-based national player Khaleem Hyland in training with his club Racing Genk and also observe another Belgium club Standard Liege for one week.
"It's been very useful exercise that has enabled me to compare the work we are doing in the Caribbean with what is being done in Europe, especially in terms of content and intensity," stated Shabazz.
"I can see that we are on the right track but if we want our players to be able to play in Europe the intensity levels have got to increase, "he added.
Shabazz is now in Antalya, Turkey where he has teamed up with Dutchman Theo de Jong, who was one of the assistant coaches to Leo Beenhakker when Trinidad and Tobago qualified for the 2006 World Cup. De Jong, who was also an assistant to Guus Hiddink, is in charge of a team made up of players from Eastern Europe, Africa and the Caribbean, assembled by Europe-based company Goal Management Group (GMG).
T&T players, Densill Theobald, Richard Roy and Nuru Muhammad are currently training with the group with a view to landing a contract in Europe.
Shabazz believes that playing in Europe has as much to do with attitude as it does with talent.
"Facing that cold weather every morning and then back again in the evening is a real test of character," stated Shabazz.
"It is clear that talent alone is not what determines if a Caribbean player can make it in Europe. It takes a high level of commitment and focus amidst some very challenging weather conditions."
Antalya is used as a training base for several teams from Eastern Europe during their respective winter breaks.
Shabazz met up with two other national players—Darryl Roberts (Samsunspor, Turkey) and Robert Primus (FC Aktobe, Kazakhstan)—as their clubs used the same training centre this month.
"I saw Darryl and Robert training in their club environment and they are going to be very useful to the national programme given the experience they are gaining out here."
Shabazz said he has been "picking the brains" of de Jong. The GMG has allowed Shabazz to work alongside De Jong, who is preparing the team for matches against Turkish clubs.
"Going through the paces with Theo is a great learning experience. He involves me in all aspects of the team training and planning and he never seems to be burdened by my countless questions and even challenges to his viewpoint on the game.
"This is a guy who has prepared teams for managers like Leo Beenhakker and Arie Haan and he was also part of the Dutch 1974 total football team.
"In Islam we sit at the feet of the learned men and try to draw from their knowledge and experience. And in all humility this is what I am currently doing here in Europe," Shabazz ended.