The Unified Football Coaches of Trinidad and Tobago (UFCTT) is disappointed in the Normalization Committee of the Trinidad & Tobago Football Association (TTFA) for denying an invitation to participate in the Caribbean Football Union’s under 14 competition.
The CFU Under 14 Boys and Girls Challenge Series will be held in Dominican Republic from August 22-29, 2021. The participating countries are Aruba, Jamaica, St. Kitts & Nevis, Grenada US Virgin Islands, Turks and Caicos, Puerto Rico, Curacao, Haiti, St Lucia and host Dominican Republic. The teams will be divided into Tier 1 and Tier 2 for both the boys and girls categories. The venues for the boys are Felix Sanchez Olympic Stadium and Panamericano San Cristobal whilst the girls` matches are held at the Ashton School and Sante Fe Club.
A statement was signed and released by UFCTT interim president, Jefferson George on Friday condemning the missed opportunity for the youngsters and highlighting the poor decision-making skills of the Normalization Committee.
The release stated, “The Association observed with concern a recent newspaper report, which announced that the Trinidad Tobago Football Association declined an invitation to participate in a CFU Under 14 football competition. The report further quoted the TTFA’s General Secretary Amiel Mohammed as saying that the Covid-19 pandemic and uncertainty surrounding the re-opening of T&T’s border was to blame for the decision.”
Eighteen months marks not only the length of time that the Normalization Committee has been at the helm of Trinidad and Tobago’s football, but also covers the period that the nation has been in the grips of this pandemic.
The first obvious question therefore is how long will the pandemic be an excuse for postponing our youth development? The challenges of today are not unique to T&T but is being experienced in varying degrees by all nations whose players will be participating in this tournament, and any youth tournament worldwide.
Some country’s pandemic experience has been much worse than our current situation. But proper planning and the awareness of the importance of such tournaments to a player’s development has seen them prioritize their participation. Why can’t we do the same?
Secondly, with the knowledge that the TTFA has no control of the borders or the pandemic, what is the plan to restart football in general and more specifically youth football, a necessary tool in the development cycle of our young players?
The UFCTT would like to commend the Caribbean Football Union on the excellent initiative of hosting the tournament. We believe it is exactly what is needed to improve football regionally. Unfortunately, T&T continues to miss out on these opportunities to better our standard of play because of a lack of planning and preparation by those tasked to do so. One just has look as far as Russell Latapy, Dwight Yorke, Shaka Hislop and a few our footballing legends who succeeded at international level to see the number of regional and international games they would have played by age 15.
This current crop of players has played none, and through the negligence of the Normalization Committee has missed out on an excellent opportunity to do so. What further adds to this travesty is that these youth are already starved of local and community competition.
“There are four things that do not come back”, neglected opportunities is one that will impact this generation of T&T footballers. The UFCTT is therefore encouraging the TTFA led by the Normalization Committee to prioritize youth development and take advantage of every opportunity to expose our players to International matches.”