A Trinidad and Tobago National Under 15 (Boys) squad is currently in training for the inaugural CONCACAF Under 15 Championships which kicks off in the Cayman Islands on August 13th.
T&T will be among 24 countries taking part in the four-group tournament. The local team, under head coach Shawn Cooper will face St Kitt’s Nevis in their opening encounter on August 14th and will follow up against Honduras a day later.
The other opponents in T&T’s Group C include Curacao, Guadeloupe and St Martin. The top team in each of the four groups will head straight into the semi-finals which take place on August 23rd with the Final carded for August 25th.
The tournament, according to TTFA General Secretary Sheldon Phillips, provides an excellent platform for this country to set off on it’s youth development program as over one hundred players between the ages of 11-14 have been scouted throughout the various regional associations and zones in T&T.
Currently a squad of thirty players is in training under Cooper and assistant coach Leonson Lewis.
Director of Football Leo Beenhakker is expected to have a look at the team in action, having already attended a training session.
Cooper who led the previous T&T Under 17 team to within one win of qualifying for the 2013 FIFA Under 17 World Cup at the qualifiers in Panama earlier this year, said the current bunch of players possessed a decent level of skill and talent.
“There are some really talented players in the bunch but we have not seen enough players to fill our defensive line up. We saw over one hundred players during the talent identification program and currently we are working hard with the very few defenders in the mix to get them up to scratch,” Cooper told TTFA Media.
“What we have found is that some of these players who are also attached to local clubs, lack the basic fundamentals of the game such as positioning and understanding of their roles and functions. But again, this is why we are very keen to have them at a national team level at the age of 12, 13 and 14 so that we can iron out these problems before they head into the Under 17 category.
“I think we stand to benefit a lot from the games at this tournament because it allows the players to get that international experience which will go a long way in helping prepare them for the future tournaments at the youth level leading up to the senior team,” Cooper added.
Phillips meantime said it was crucial for the TTFA to focus on development in this particular age group, even going a bit lower to the Under 10 category.
“This has to be a major part of our focus which is teaching the basics and getting the players to learn the game properly at this age group. We have had excellent support from the Ministry of Sport and now with corporate bodies beginning to step back in, we will be able to provide the resources to ensure the coaches and the players are well taken care of.
We hope this continues as it is important for us to understand what development is all about as we strive towards producing quality players for our Senior team,” Phillips said.
Some of the other nations competing in the tournament include El Salvador, Guatemala, Jamaica, Belize, Martinique, Haiti, St Vincent/Grenadines, Bermuda, Bahamas, St Lucia, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Antigua/Barbuda, US Virgin Islands, St Marteen, Aruba, Grenada and hosts Cayman Islands.
August 14th – T&T vs St Kitts & Nevis
August 15th – T&T vs Honduras
August 17th – T&T vs Curacao
August 19th – T&T vs St Martin
August 21st – T&T vs Guadeloupe
2013 CONCACAF U-15 Championship Calendar.
1 16:30 US Virgin Islands vs Bermuda
2 16:30 St. Lucia vs Belize
3 18:00 Jamaica vs Grenada
4 18:00 Dominican Republic vs Guatemala
5 19:30 Cayman vs St. Marteen
6 19:30 Aruba vs Bahamas
7 16:30 Curacao vs Guadeloupe.
8 16:30 St. Vincent vs Antigua & Barbuda
9 18:00 Honduras vs St. Martin
10 18:00 Trinidad & Tobago vs St. Kitts
11 19:30 Haiti vs El Salvador
12 19:30 Martinique vs Puerto Rico
13 15:00 Aruba vs St. Maarten
14 15:00 Guadeloupe vs St. Kitts
15 15:00 Puerto Rico vs Antigua & Barbuda
16 16:30 Honduras vs Trinidad & Tobago
17 16:30 Curacao vs St. Martin
18 16:30 Dominican Republic vs Belize
19 18:00 Jamaica vs St. Lucia
20 18:00 Haiti vs St. Vincent
21 18:00 Bahamas vs Bermuda
22 19:30 Cayman vs US Virgin Islands
23 19:30 El Salvador vs Martinique
24 19:30 Guatemala vs Grenada
25 16:30 Aruba vs US Virgin Islands
26 16:30 Dominican Republic vs Grenada
27 18:00 Jamaica vs Belize
28 18:00 Bahamas vs St. Maarten
29 19:30 Cayman vs Bermuda
30 19:30 Guatemala vs St. Lucia
31 16:30 Curacao vs Trinidad & Tobago
32 16:30 Guadeloupe vs St. Martin
33 18:00 Haiti vs Antigua & Barbuda
34 18:00 Martinique vs St. Vincent
35 19:30 Honduras vs St. Kitts
36 19:30 Puerto Rico vs El Salvador
37 16:30 Aruba vs Bermuda
38 16:30 St. Maarten vs US Virgin Islands
39 18:00 Jamaica vs Dominican Republic
40 18:00 Grenada vs St. Lucia
41 19:30 Cayman vs Bahamas
42 19:30 Guatemala vs Belize
43 16:30 Curacao vs St. Kitts
44 16:30 Martinique vs Antigua & Barbuda
45 18:00 Haiti vs Puerto Rico.
46 18:00 El Salvador vs St. Vincent
47 19:30 Honduras vs Guadeloupe
48 19:30 St. Martin vs Trinidad & Tobago
49 16:30 Bahamas vs US Virgin Islands
50 16:30 Grenada vs Belize
51 18:00 Jamaica vs Guatemala
52 18:00 St. Maarten vs Bermuda
53 19:30 Cayman vs Aruba
54 19:30 Dominican Republic vs St. Lucia
55 16:30 St. Martin vs St. Kitts
56 16:30 Puerto Rico vs St. Vincent
57 18:00 Haiti vs Martinique.
58 18:00 Antigua & Barbuda vs El Salvador
59 19:30 Honduras vs Curacao.
60 19:30 Guadeloupe vs Trinidad & Tobago
61-SF1 18:00 A1 vs B1.
62-SF2 20:00 C1 vs D1.
63 17:00 SF1 Loser vs SF2 Loser.
64-Final 19:00 SF1 Winner vs SF2 Winner.