That is how Trinidad and Tobago Football Association president Raymond Tim Kee described the TTFA Youth Football Community Clinics during the launch of the programme at the VIP Lounge at Hasely Crawford Stadium yesterday.
This community programme will run in conjunction with the TTFA ball distribution programme which is part of the “One World Futbol” project that the Association is aligned with.
The TTFA will also be partnering with Lifestyle Motors, who are the local distributors of Chevrolet, Bmobile and BG T&T, to put on the clinics and to distribute close to 15,000 “nearly indestructible” footballs made by One World Futbol.
The distribution of the footballs which could be used on almost any kind of surface, was arranged through initial discussions between ex-TTFA technical director Lincoln Phillips and Chevrolet.
The 16-week grassroots-based programme will feature 90-minute sessions and will target children aged 6-12. The clinics will be organised in a circuit-type format led by TTFA technical director Anton Corneal and community based coaches and by the end of the programme, ten “indestructible balls” would have been distributed to each primary school in the country.
Mary Siu Butt is the programme’s chief coordinator. Some of the communities that will host clinics include Icacos, Siparia, Carenage, Signal Hill and Mayaro.
In explaining the reasoning behind the programmes, Tim Kee said that in the history of T&T football, there is always evidence that excellent performances and excellent players that have surfaced have come through a development process from a young age.
“They would have started at very young ages and come through a process that will take them right through to the senior level,” he said, noting that the Association has not been following the “process” over the last few years.
He added: “We have not been consistent in terms of following the process. When the new football term started, it was a conscious and deliberate decision to start with the youth so that by the end of last year we had produced 250 coaches for the primary school level.
“Historically we have not been working in the far-flung areas like we should have, notwithstanding the evidence that those are the places that bred some really good players.”
Tim Kee also said that there were two prime benefits to be gained from the programme. The first is that it provides an avenue to get youths away from “deviant behavours and undesirable conduct”.
“Football from the primary level is seen as a good vehicle that can be used and will be exploited to save some of those children from themselves,” he explained.
The second benefit he said would come in the form of success on the field of play.
“A programme that is structured and organised and if followed will eventually lead to success and at least the children will get a chance to excel. This programme is one that is invaluable to us as a country and as a football-loving people,” Tim Kee said.
President of the Republic Anthony Carmona was also present at the launch and commended the initiative saying: “It is undeniable that young people involved in sport lead more purposeful lives. They learn teamwork discipline, respect, the value of community and how to strive for excellence.”
The first clinic will be held on Saturday in Blanchisseuse. —Roger Seepersad