While the T&T Pro League tries to come up with a suitable date to commence its 2018 season and while also working on a formula to make the league more attractive and sustainable, Concacaf has embarked on a campaign to raise the standard of clubs in the region through a series of workshops and competitions.
At the moment I am in Santiago, Dominican Republic charged with the responsibility to manage media operations and generate content to promote the inaugural Concacaf Caribbean Shield which comprises of eleven clubs from eleven countries over a two-week period. This tournament forms the base of the Concacaf club competition platform, featuring clubs which are working with Concacaf’s Development Department towards a long-term vision to professionalise the club game across the region.
The participating clubs represent Member Associations with up-and-coming leagues, working their way towards full professional standards, following the Concacaf league professionalisation roadmap. Concacaf’s wide-ranging club licensing and league development programs are designed to raise the level of the club game throughout the region, creating more access and opportunity for development of players and officials, and resulting in further growth and an improved level of competition throughout the Concacaf club competitions platform.
Endorsing the tournament along with two Concacaf workshops hosted for member association this weekend in Santiago was Concacaf Director of Development, former Grenada English-based pro Jason Roberts.
The two workshops running simultaneously of which I've had the privilege of attending at the Hodelpa Garden Court hotel focuses on League Development and Club Licensing. This tied in with the Caribbean Shield is all aimed at ensuring a lasting and meaningful impact in the Caribbean.
T&T still maintains a high status in the region with the existence of its Pro League with many players from some of the islands aspiring to join local clubs in T&T but the T&T Super League is also being mentioned as an attraction as well, with leagues in places such as Barbados, St Kitts/Nevis, St Lucia, Suriname, Curacao, Aruba and many others trying to pattern their league football similar to that of countries like T&T and Jamaica.
Here in Santiago is former W Connection and Caledonia AIA player George Isaac of St Kitts/Nevis, currently head coach of Kittitian club Cayon Rockets which is competing in the Concacaf Caribbean Shield. He appreciates the effort towards helping teams become more professionalised, having played in the T&T Pro League and getting a feel of playing in the Concacaf Champions Cup back in 2002/2003.
"I think the Concacaf Caribbean Shield presents an deal opportunity for us to continue our development and push ourselves even further towards becoming a fully professional team. Every player in the Caribbean dreams about playing at a high level or in a proper Concacaf tournament and we are getting that opportunity with the Caribbean Shield," Isaac said. “I have tasted Pro League football in Trinidad and Tobago and I think it’s a great opportunity for players from St Kitts and other islands to have a similar experience which can in turn strengthen their national teams and football on a whole in the Caribbean.”
Concacaf 's vision is clear and it is important that while nations compete on the field, their remains a collective drive towards establishing better levels in every aspect of the game. As part of the commitment to establish a fully integrated Confederation, Concacaf is investing in administration, competitions and development programs throughout North America, Central America and the Caribbean in order to further grow the sport and empower its 41 member nations. The organization is expanding resources across the region to work closely on initiatives that raise the game’s level, while increasing opportunities for players, coaches, and administrators. Professional football is being seen as the way to go and in T&T it should no doubt be seen as here to stay.