As this country’s National Under 17 men stepped up their preparations this week for the upcoming Caribbean Football Union Final Round of World Cup qualifiers, captain John-Paul Rochford and his teammates had the distinct honour of being joined on the training pitch by former Manchester United star and ex-National Team captain Dwight Yorke on Monday at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva.
With Latapy taking charge of the team just under a month ago, the “Little Magician” invited the former Aston Villa man to take part in the session and Yorke was a big attraction, passing on his words of football wisdom to the youngsters and engaging in a session on finishing with the forwards.
Yorke later spoke about this short time on the pitch with the members of the team, tipping them to progress in the tournament while also crediting the TTFA for bringing Latapy on board its national youth teams programme.
“I think the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association has obviously done a great thing in introducing Russell back into the system.I think his experience and passion for country is immense. He has given thirty years of service to the country and I think Trinidad and Tobago will benefit from his experience. He is a huge name in our country I think he is somebody that the youths will understand and look up to in a very positive way,” Yorke told TTFA Media on Thursday.
“It was a great pleasure to get the opportunity to work alongside Russell even if it was only for a couple of hours. Th fact that I worked with the strikers looking at the young talent that is coming through to see where our football is is something that is always positive. I like what I’ve been seeing of the senior team in terms of the young players coming through. I think that Trinidad and Tobago football is in a very good place at the moment. It’s to capitalise on these good moments and not go backwards as we’ve done in previous years. Let’s hope that it continues to grow,” Yorke said.
The former Sunderland and Birmingham City player noted though that Latapy has only been at the helm for a short period, therefore there should not be too much pressure on the young outfit.
“Certainly where Russell is concerned, it’s going to be difficult for him and the tea, to win the tournament. I don’t think that people should get too carried away with the fact that he is in charge and everything is all honky dory. There is a lot of work yet to be done with that youth system and we need to remember he’s only taken over the team for two weeks to try and turn things around. I think that people who will come out and support the young boys will see positive changes but whether he has had enough time to turn things around and to implement his system, I think it’s too short of a time but nevertheless I think he ’s been doing a great job and getting the best out of the kids and that has to be a positive effect,” Yorke said.
Latapy also spoke on the influence of Yorke and the impression he would have left on the young players.
“We invited Dwight to one of our sessions for various reasons. Dwight is still very fit and he is also one of the players that most young players if not all in this country look up to. He was able to come in and do a session with the strikers, have a word with the team and share his views on our football and what is needed to do to achieve success.
“He emphasised on how hard they need to keep working. And hopefully him being in will give the whole team a lift and that was the whole idea behind it. He was still able to show them which runs to make and how to put the ball into the net. Dwight is a very positive influence on our football and on a lot of young lives. Just having him in there and playing a little scrimmage where they can go and say well yea I passed the ball to Dwight or I got a pass from Dwight that sort of stuff just gives them a lift before we go into this tournament and shows them what is possible for them to achieve with hard work.
“We want to thank Dwight for coming in and I would definitely invite him again to be part of our training session because the young players loved it. You could see them buzzing and speaking to each other about it and it’s the kind of positive influence we always want around any national team,” Latapy added.
T&T will face Haiti in their opening match at the Ato Boldon Stadium from 7:30pm on September 16th with Jamaica facing Bermuda from 5pm in the first game of the double header. T&T also faces Bermuda on September 18th at 6:30pm and Jamaica on September 20th at 7:30pm.
All Group A games will be played at the Ato Boldon Stadium with Group B games including Curacao, Cuba, Guadeloupe and Suriname being played at the Hasely Crawford Stadium. The top five teams from the tournament will advance to the CONCACAF Final round in Panama City next April towards the 2017 FIFA Under 17 World Cup in India.