Exclusive Interview with TTFF TD Lincoln Phillips with Inshan "Flex" Mohammed.
SWO - 1. Judging from reports. I read that the just concluded Youth Training Camp (YTC) was very successful. Are you going to have any more camps coming up ? and if yes, when, how often and where.
Also, from what I understand, these players called were mainly to identification, evaluation, and tracking of players for the purpose of supplementing and preparing under 23 National team for the 2006 CAC games, 2007 Pan American Games, and 2008 Summer Olympic Games. Knowing that T&T is always or most of the times under prepared for tournments. What is your next step in preparing the said teams.
LP: Yes, the camp was a resounding success and an excellent kickoff event for GOAL 2014, which is my vision to have every national team from T&T qualify for every FIFA tournament by 2014. In the past, we have had all of these talented players go off to college and then we lose track of them even though they frequently come back for holidays. I felt we needed to have a camp over the Christmas break in order to take a look at the overseas based and local-based U21 players becuase these young men will form the nucleus of our 2010 team.. Because of the size of our country, we need to cast a wider net when we identify and track players. There are a number of excellent players from Trinidad and Tobago who reside in the US, Canada, and UK. This camp will now be an annual event and marks another first in a number of initiatives I have implemented since coming on board.
I also want to thank you Flex and the members of the site for providing us an excellent list identifying the US-based college players. Socawarriors.net played a large part in the success of the U21 camp. I am also in the process of accumulating a list of overseas-based U12-U19 players so hopefully we can get an even more comprehensive list of players from those age levels. As for addional camps, there are a number in planning. Jabloteh has been gracoius enough to accept our invitation for a practice match and we will play on Saturday Jan. 21 at the Larry Gomes Stadium at 9am.
I am very encouraged at this collaboration becuase the professional clubs are a key partner in the development of all our players and any opportunity for the clubs and federation to work together must be embraced because everyone benefits.
We are also preparing a mid-February U21 camp and looking at the possbility of conducting this camp in Florida. I have already spoken with the Kansas City Wizards of MLS to play a practice match in Tampa and hope we get three additional games during what could be a 10-day camp. There will be a number of MLS teams training in Florida around the same time. The upcoming CAC qualifiers in March and finals this summer require this level of preparation. In the past, we have lost games because of the lack of preparation. This will not happen under my watch.
As Leo Beenhakker mentioned in December when he asked where are the youths, we must prioritze our youth teams and ensure they are adequately prepared. This, of course, requires money and the initial funding from the SPORT Company as well as the increased visability Trinidad and Tobago earned with our world cup qualification should enable our national teams to make a good run at achieving the mission set forth in GOAL 2014. Of course the women's program is enjoying a good run. They performed well in the CFU qualifiers and the increased resources and opportunities I have been able to acquire will hopefully bring continued positive results from our womens teams.
SWO - 2. You and your associates saw some 75 plus players during the YTC. Do you think you identified any players that possess the caliber of players such as Dwight Yorke, Russell Latapy and Shaka Hislop.
LP: We actually saw 112 players. There were a number of promising players on display. Kevon Neaves made an impression from beginning to end and in my opinion he was the best player.
I've suggested to Leo that he should take a look at Kevon. Judah Hernandez looked very good. Makan Hislop was very strong and commanded the back very well. Yohance Marshall and Kareem Smith also looked good in the defense. Hayden Tinto came on towards the end of the camp and Shane Calderon was very sharp in his finishing. Kendall Jadeosingh and Abiola Sandy were promising at midfield. Ironically, we have some work in the goalkeeping department. As a goalkeeper, this will be addressed with a series of goalkeeping training camps. I will develop a goalkeeping staff and we will conduct a series of clinics throughout the country.
SWO - 3. Can you tell us who you think were the top 6 players on the YTC under 21 team and, and give us a breakdown on each individual player you choose, in other words, why did you pick these certain players.
LP: I wouldn't rank the players. We are still early in the screening and there are at least 10 players who weren't able to attend the camp that we will like to see in our next camp.
SWO - 4. Can you tell us who you think were the top 6 players on the YTC under 23 team and, and give us a breakdown on each individual player you choose, in other words, why did you pick these certain players.
LP: Same as the U21 team, it is difficult to rank so early in the screening process. The player selections were actually the job of the coaches and evaluators. I provided some input. However, it was interesting that when the selected player list from the coaches, evaluators, and myself was compared there was only 4 discrepencies. That is how we selected 34 players instead of 28 so it was satisfying that everyone was in accordance with what to look for in players who will don our national shirt.
SWO - 5. Were there any foreign born players in the YTC and, who were they.
LP: Threre were two players from Canada: Kyle Hall and Justin Hay. Both looked good especially considering they were among the younger players. Stephen De Las, who is now based in the UK, didn't get selected for the final list but he is very young and we will continue to keep our eye on him.
SWO - 6. Was the local players called the same level as the US/Canadian based.
LP: Of the final 34 players selected, 18 players were local-based so yes the local players held their own. We have a nice mix of overseas based and local based players.
SWO - 7. Do you think the Secondary School Football League should be longer in order to help keep our future youth players fit and more interested in the game.
LP: No. In fact I think the players are engaged in too many games. You have to remember that these are children we are talking about yet they are expected to sometimes play 3-4 a games a week during the SSFL season and some coaches require the players to attend practices in the off-season. The mission of the schools is to educate our young people and we cannot forget that the young men and women who play for their schools are called student-athletes.
I would like to coordinate a development program with the SSFL and the local clubs. In most countries, player development is the domain of the clubs. In smaller countries, the federations play a larger role in player development but the clubs and secondary schools must work together with our federation in order to properly serve our young players.
SWO - 8. The Tobago School League is not that competitive. The league where you have 2 teams dominating year in year out. Do you have any plans to help improve the school league in Tobago.
LP: The situation in Tobago will be always challenging because of the limited player pool. There are larger countries whose professional leagues have been traditionally dominated by two teams; River Plate and Boca, Barcelona and Real Madrid, AC Milan and Juventus etc. If more players from Tobago are exposed to player development programs from early on, the player pool will naturally expand. What we have to do is continue to take steps within our national programs to provide the necessary financial assistance to ensure the best players from Tobago are exposed and able to attend training camps in Trinidad.
SWO - 9. I think at the end of the SSFL season we should pick an All-Star 20 man team and try to play, not, just the Jamaican teams, but other concacaf teams as well. A youth tournament that is hosted in one country every year which runs for maybe one week or so. We can find out the schedule of other interested schools in concacaf at the beginning of the year and try to run each school league on the same time frame every year. This will insure that the interested schools in concacaf finish their season at the same time making this tournament very possible. Can you touch on this.
LP: What you're describing is a national team tournament. Yes, we should take more tours and it is imperative that our players are provided international exposure as early as possible, especially South and Central America. We should also invite teams to come here. We have wonderful stadiums and an excellent athletic infrastructure. But Flex, I'll do you one better; one of my proposals for my 2006 initiatives is to bring back the North -South Classic.
SWO - 10. Did the under 23 & under 21 players/teams during the YTC played any games, if so, against whom, what was the final scores and who scored for both teams.
LP: Yes, the U21s played against a selection of U23s on the final day of the camp. The games consisted of three 45 minute periods. In fact we did not really keep score as the focal point was not competition but rather the identification of talent but the U21s were just as competitive as the U23s. There were some U23s that showed well. Stephen Cruikshank was very effective on the flank and Darryl Roberts and Osei Telesford dominated the midfield. We felt the U21 camp was a good first step in identifying the best U21 talent that will position Trinidad and Tobago to qualify in March and win in the CAC finals, Pan-American Games in 2007 and Olympics in 2008. Once we do this, the team will be poised to make a run to qualify through the front door for 2010.
We must embrace a new attitude that includes an expectation to win competitions and must no longer be satisfied with moral victories. That is what GOAL 2014 is about and the only way we can achieve its mission is to have our teams step on the field with the expectation of winning the match. Under 13 and Under 18 players interested in playing for T&T can visit www.trinsport.com. Fill out the form there and get your chance you represent T&T.
Note: On behalf of the Soca Warriors Online I just what to say Thank You to Mr. Lincoln Phillips for taking the time to do this interview for us. Please keep up the great work you are doing and we all wish you all the best in the future of T&T football...
Report U-21 Men’s National Select Team Tour to Tampa, Florida
February 12-23, 2006
Submitted by: Lincoln Phillips
Technical Director, TTFF
Coming out of the successful U-21 December national screening (combine), a pool of 28 players was selected (see roster in addendum 1) for training and preparation for the CAC qualifiers in March and April. A technical staff consisting of Head Coach Ron LaForest and Assistant Coach, Mike Mc Commie, conducted four training sessions and played three games against Joe Public and two against Jabloteh of the Professional Football League. A national screening was also conducted in Tobago during this period in January.
Technical Director, Lincoln Phillips extended an invitation to World C up Team Head Coach, Leo Beenhakker, to attend the sessions. Leo appreciated the offer but since he was in Barbados had suggested that Wim Rijsbergen and Anton Corneal take his place since. From their observations of the training sessions and the one game they attended, Wim and Anton provided useful feedback to the Technical staff. Their observations and recommendations were included in the overall coaching staff assessment conducted by the Technical Director prior to the tour to Tampa.
At the end of the training period January 21 - February 10, 2006, thirteen local players were selected to join 9 US-based players for the Tampa camp. While in Tampa three additional US-based players were added to the camp:
Afif Najaar (Southern Illinois University), Jason Devonish (University of South Florida) and Marcelle Francois.
1. Game Analysis-
The first game was on February 14 against the Major League Soccer (MLS) team, Chicago Fire. This game told us a lot about the character of the U-21 team. We spent day traveling and arrived at the University of South Florida (USF) dormitory shortly after midnight on February 14 because of weather-related flight delays. A light practice was conducted in the morning in order to prepare us for the 3:00pm game against the Fire. With little time to rest and adjust to the unseasonably cold weather conditions, it was feared that the players would be in a bit over their heads.
Game 1 –Chicago Fire (Feb 14)
The game was played in three 30-minute periods to accommodate both technical staffs with the opportunity to evaluate new players. The game started off with T&T under constant pressure for the first 10 minutes and was lucky not to have conceded a goal during this period. The T&T defenders struggled to effectively play out of the defensive third while the midfielders were unable to possess the ball for any length of time in the middle of the park. The forwards always seemed to be a step too slow when approaching the ball and failed to possess the ball for more than three consecutive touches.
On the defensive side, the back four included; Murray, Marshall, Hislop and Edwards, should be commended for their efforts in withstanding the offensive pressures applied by Chicago and enabling the team to come out of the first period without conceding a goal.
Head Coach Ron La Forest made several changes for the second period. The two strikers Kevin Crooks and newcomer Randi Patterson were replaced with Abiola Sandy and Shane Calderon. In the midfield Kendall Jagdeosingh and Kezi Lara came in for Josimar Belgrave and Kahleem Hyland. This line up worked well and showed a better chemistry over the previous line up. Chicago also made adjustments and put in more of their regular starters and scored in the 18th minute of the 2nd period .The goal resulted from a misunderstanding between the T&T goalkeeper and a defender that provided the opponent an open goal opportunity.
Makan Hislop received his 2nd yellow card and was ejected from the game. Makan is an excellent defender but at time susceptible to momentary lapses of composure and timing. The technical staff addressed the deficiency and Makan was yellow card free for the rest of the tour.
T&T midfielder, Kevon, Neaves, was denied an equalizing goal when the Chicago goalkeeper made a tremendous save on a thunderous left footed shot. The period ended 0-1 but T&T was beginning to adapt to the speed of the game and demonstrated significant improvement from the first period.
In the third period, Coach Ron La Forest changed the formation from a 4-4-2 to a 3-4-3. With three fleet-footed forwards ,Gorien Highly, Shane Calderon and Randi Patterson playing up high. This period proved to be the best for T&T. The team seemed more comfortable with the 3-4-3 system and matched Chicago at every step. The game ended in a 1-0 win for Chicago. Chicago Coach, Dave Sarakan, spoke with our players at the end of the game and praised them for providing his team with excellent opposition.
· The team showed character playing hard and defending well in the early stages of the game
· T&T improved their speed of play in the second/third periods
· The coach was able to successfully implement a formation (3-4-3) that best suited his players.
· Team Ball Possession: Players must be more patient and focus on connecting with each other and changing the point of attack. If nothing is on to the right then look to the left of turn back.
· Individual Defending: T&T gave away too many cheap fouls caused by late and/or lunging tackles. Far too many fouls near the sideline where the opponent is harmless (must show control and restraint). Defenders must also mark properly (goal-side/ball-side) and understand the importance of changing 1st defender to 2nd defender roles and vice versa quickly!!
· Individual Ball Possession: The defenders looked very uneasy with the ball at their feet. They were unable to move the ball around in the defensive third with any degree of confidence.
Game Two- Orange County U-19 FC (Feb 15)
This game was purposely scheduled, after the high intensity pro game in order to provide the players with the opportunity to address deficiencies encountered in the previous game. Also, players who did not get on the pitch in the previous game would get an opportunity to get considerable playing time.
The technical staff had the team focus on ball possession and changing the point of attack during the morning training session. Much time was also spent on moving the ball around in the defensive third.
From the opening whistle, it was evident that the opposition was not very strong and within the space of 15 minutes we were three goals up. Coach LaForest elected to have his players keep possession of the ball for at least 15-20 touches before going to goal.
The game ended in a 7-0 win for T&T with Kevon Neaves getting a hat-trick. Marcelle Francois and Ancil Fariera showed their quality as defenders who possess the ability and stamina to move forward well into the attacking third.
The third game VS University of South Florida, scheduled on Feb 16, was canceled due injuries to several USF players. The next game carded for the Feb 19 gave us 4 days of solid training before the next big test against another Major League Soccer team, Kansas City Wizards.
Coach La Forest requested that I conduct a few sessions over these days that would focus on ball possession, changing the point of attack and attacking from the defensive third of the field. The sessions were well received by the players and coaching staff.
Game 3 –Kansas City Wizards (Feb 19)
The Kansas City game was our sternest test as the decision was made not to play Kevon Neaves because of his recent call up to the senior team for its international friendly against Iceland. Despite the absence of arguably our best player, the technical staff felt confident the team would give a good account of themselves. The days of excellent training provided the technical staff a good opportunity to establish a better understanding of each player’s strength and weakness. As a result, the players better understood their roles than in the previous games.
The game started off at a brisk pace with T&T matching KC every step. Abiola Sandy, who did not have a very productive first game against Chicago Fire, came alive around the 10th minute of the first period (duration of the game was three 30 minute periods) scoring T&T’s first goal with a tremendous strike from 30 meters.
KC scored their tying goal in the second period from a corner kick which caught all the T&T defenders flat footed allowing a Kansas player to volley home a rebound within the six yard box. KC’s second tally came from a quickly executed free kick just outside the penalty area. T&T was a bit unfortunate to give up such a goal but learned two useful lessons in defending free kicks: 1. Always be alert for quick free kicks, and 2. The referee does not have to blow his whistle to restart the game after any dead ball situation. It was unfortunate that the kick was taken while the official was physically moving the wall back a few paces. Gamesmanship on the part of our players would have to be developed in order to avoid a repeat of Kansas City’s second goal.
The third period was a scoreless affair as both teams missed good chances of scoring. T&T coach, Ron LA Forest, again introduced the 3-4-3 formation and the team once again responded favorably to this system.
T&T possessed the ball for longer periods as compared to the previous games. Jason Devenish played very well in his first appearance of the tour. The players, for the second time looked comfortable playing the 3-4-3 formation.
Far too many unnecessary fouls were committed. The lack of restraint and control by our players, especially in the opening minutes of the game will be easily exploited by a good opposing team.
After the game several players had to return to their respective schools to fulfill class assignments and exam requirements. They included Abiola Sandy, Marcelle Francois, Kevin Crooks, Makan Hislop.
Game 4 – US U-17 National team (Feb. 22)
Our team continued to demonstrate improved play despite loss of the four players. The rest of the players, in the eyes of the Technical Staff, were quite capable of holding their against this US team which is very seasoned group that held two MLS teams to a draw and also provided an excellent favorable argument to support the importance of establishing a residency program in Trinidad and Tobago for our promising youth players.
The first half of the game ended goalless with both teams getting their equal share of goal scoring chances. It has become clear that our team is at its most vulnerable in the first 20 minutes of the game. The players take far too long to establish the tempo and, as a result, provide the opponent the opportunity to set the tone. The second half began with T&T going on the offensive. The entire team closed down the US much faster than in the first half causing the US team to frequently lose possession. T&T, on the other hand was able to hold on to the ball much longer and had the better of the exchanges during this period. After three good scoring chances, Shane Calderon scored and the team continued to press and create more opportunities that were left unanswered because of poor finishing.
Against the run of play an ill-advised pass in the middle of the field by a T&T defender gave the US a 1v1 opportunity. Goalkeeper Thorne Holder came off the line to make a timely save to keep the score 1-0. Unfortunately the same errant pass from the same player was made minutes later which resulted in the US equalizer. T&T had several good chances to score in the final stages of the game but poor finishing kept the game deadlocked at the end of the 90 minutes.
Individual Player Analysis
Grading Scale (1-poor, 2-needs work, 3 competent, 4 strong)
Thorne Holder, (Goalkeeper)- Thorne had a fairly camp. He conceded 4 goals in 4 games and only one of the goals resulted from his error. He made a several key saves against Kansas City and the USA Under 17’s when the score was 1-2 and 1-1 respectively. He is still uncomfortable coming off his line for through balls and high crosses. Distribution also needs improvement (3+ Grade)
Makan Hislop, (Captain, Central Defender)- Markan establishes the physical enforcement of the T&T defense. Tall in stature, he was very outstanding in the air. His timely tackles kept T&T in each of the games. Makan needs to improve his foot skills. He is very uncomfortable with the ball. He also needs to show more control and restraint in his tackling. He has picked up red cards for his tackling in the U-20 Concacaf tournament in January 2005; twice with his University of South Carolina team and now with this team in Tampa tour. He is a strong contender for senior national team selection once he improves his foot skills and curbs his urge to lunge tackle when not in a good position to win the ball. (4+Grade)
Yohance Marshall, (Central Defender)- Yohance is a solid defender who is comfortable in any of the back 4 positions. He wins all aerial duels and has the ability to read the game. He partners well with Hislop in the back and has the ability to move forward into attack from the back. Yohance must improve his ball possession skills and eliminate his tendency to make casual and reckless passes in front of the goal, one of which caused an equalizing goal for the US Under 17 team. (4 grade).
Carlan Murray, (Central Defender, Sweeper)- Carlan has the ability to develop into a top class defender. He is very fast with excellent jumping ability. He wins most aerial duels but picks up fouls by unlawful use of the forearm. Carlan fouls far too often due to faulty marking. His abrasive and condescending manner of talking tends to upset his teammates. (3+ Grade) but could easily be a 4+ if the deficiencies stated above are corrected.
Aklie Edwards (Left Flank Defender)- A tall and lanky defender, Akilie wins his fair share of one on one duels. He is a very agile and a strong tackler of the ball and is one of the steadiest defenders among the back four. Akilie needs to open up the game when he receives the ball from his central defender. He has the tendency to go place the ball back from where it just came. He also seldom utilizes the space in front of him. (4- Grade).
Ancil Farriea, (Left Flank Defender/midfielder)- Ancil, at the left flank defender provides far more attacking power than other defenders. He is fleet-footed, very agile and adept in moving into the attack from the back four. He is also equally at home at the Left flank midfielder. Needs to improve his crossing once he gets into the attacking third of the field. (4- Grade).
Kevon Neaves, (Left Flank Mid fielder) – Kevon is by far the most skilful player on the team. His first touch is very good and his dribbling and shielding skills enable him to get out of tight situations. He is an excellent crosser of the ball and possesses a powerful shot enabling him to be a threat from long range. Kevon is most useful to the team in a central position both as a defensive/offensive mid-fielder. Kevon he lacks speed and has the tendency to play at one pace (4+Grade).
Jason Devonish, (Central/Right Flank Mid-fielder)- Jason is a very skilful player who relies more on finesse than physical play. He is a very good passer of the ball but sometimes gets caught holding on a touch or two too long. In spite of his slight build, he challenges very strongly for air balls. He is adept at scoring from dead ball situations. Jason needs to improve in the area of speed and agility. He must also improve his technical speed and defensive marking. (4- Grade).
Kezi Lara, (Mid-fielder)- Kezi did not have a good tournament. He seemed pre-occupied as if his mind was somewhere else. When he got out of the daze for a moment he played very well, especially for a short period against the Kansas City Wizards. However, his inconsistency on the field did not help his chances of breaking into the starting line up. Kezi seems to be lost and in search of someone to help him find out which is the right direction for him to travel. The Technical Director has asked for a 1 on 1 meeting to assist him. (3- Grade).
Josimar Belgrave, (Midfield)- Josimar has the ability to produce more than what he did in Tampa. While he made no catastrophic mistakes, he never really featured in anything past mediocre. An injury to his heel kept him out for a couple of games and may well have been the cause of his lack luster performances. He needs to improve his all-round technical and tactical skills. His speed of play needs much improvement if he ever expects to play on a higher level. (3- Grade)
Khaleem Highland, (Midfield)- Kahleem has a very positive attitude to training. He is only 17 years and has not yet matured as a player. Physically he is able to cope with the demands of the game at the U-21 level but lacks the ability to cope with the speed of play. He is eligible for the U-18 team and will be able to contribute more to the team at that age level. He needs to keep working on his overall technical skills and quick decision-making. (3 grade). He has the potential to develop into a 4+.
Afif Najaar, (Midfield/Defender)- Afif’s technical skills are quite good when he has time and space. However, the technical and tactical speed of U-21 level proved to be too much for him too much for him to handle. He was very hard on himself whenever he made a bad pass and this deficiency never really helped his game. He needs to work on making quicker decisions and improve his mental approach to the game. (3- Grade).
Dion Peters, (Midfield)- Dion is a hard working midfielder with a positive mental attitude. He technical skills are quite good and his speed of play has improved with every game. I am confident that if he keeps working hard and improving his technical and tactical speed, he will burst into the top 18 line up very soon. (3+ Grade).
Akil Freitas (Midfield)- Akil, just like Dion, has a very good work ethic. He came into the line up against the US Under-17 team and gave a spirited performance. He is also on the verge of breaking into the top 18 line up soon. (3+ Grade).
Gorean Highly, (Forward) – Gorean is probably the most talented Player on the team. His technical skills are very good and he possesses the ability to get in behind opposing defenders. His physical structure is one of the downfalls of his game. He is very easily pushed off the ball with the slightest tackle from an opponent. Gorean is not serious about playing football at the highest level. His extra curricular activities seem to be getting in his way on being a top footballer. (3+ Grade) but has the ability to be a 5 once he decides to dedicate his life to his personal development.
Randi Patterson (Forward)- Randi’s father was from Trinidad but he was born and bred in the US and never had the opportunity of visiting T&T. He was virtually a stranger to the team. I truly admired how he came into the team and asserted himself and emerged into the top striker on the team. He is very quick, challenges for every ball and always hunting for a goal. Needs to work on a few dribbling moves to compliment his speed. (4+ Grade).
Shane Calderon (Forward)- Shane has the potential to be outstanding striker. His speed and agility on and off the ball are wonderful assets that he must allow to work in his favour. For instance, when he should take on a player on with his gifted speed, he turns back into the defender. He has some very good dribbling moves but never really understands when he has beaten his opponent. We have not yet seen the best of Shane Calderon. Psychologically, he is a wreck. He overly worries about too many issues and this is one of the major factors affecting his game. (4 Grade).
Abiola Sandy (Forward)- Abiola had a very slow start on the tour. His first game against the Chicago Fire was very mediocre. Fortunately for him Shane Calderon and Gorion Highly and were injured for the Kansas City game and he got the opportunity to pair up with Randi Patterson. This game was the turning point for Abiola. He scored the best goal of the tournament early in the game to take the lead 1-0. Throughout the game, he proved that he was a quality striker constantly moving, holding up the ball in tight situations and constantly threatening the opposing defenders. Abiola needs to add a couple deceptive moves to his game in order to create more time and space so that he could get off more shots on goal. (4 Grade).
Colin Kirk (Forward/Midfield). Colin, just like Randi Patterson was born and bred in the US. Unfortunately he appeared to be very uncomfortable in his new environment and never seemed to be part of the team. On the field, he did nothing wrong but was never a factor in the game offensively or defensively. Needs to improve his overall technical and tactical skills. Definitely not ready to play at this level. (2+ Grade).
Kevin Crooks (Forward)- Kevin was a big disappointment. Tall in stature with a tremendous build, he never won any balls in the air neither did he post up successfully with his back to the goal. He had a hard time collecting the ball cleanly in heavy traffic. He looked terribly sluggish and out of shape. He was never a factor in any of the games that he played in. he needs to improve in all areas. (2 Grade).
Kendall Jagdeosingh (Forward/midfield)- Kendall has the potential to become a top class professional. He has an unbelievable work rate throughout the entire game. Defensively, he will hunt the opponent down until he either wins the ball or forces the opponent to make a bad pass. Offensively, he is perpetual motion, but unfortunately lacks the tactical ability to move into good supporting positions. Also, he tends to do a bit too much with the ball. With proper coaching and exposure to a professional environment, Kendall will emerge into a top level pro. He needs to improve his first touch. His ability to read and understand the game also needs a lot of improvement. (4- Grade) with the potential to become a 5+.
Hayden Tinto (Midfielder/Forward)- Hayden is happiest when he is on the field! It does not matter what position he plays, he gives it his all. He is very quick, elusive and can turn on a dime with his low center of gravity. He performed well above average as a striker and midfielder in all of the games, especially against the pros. He is the smallest player on the team but by far the most dynamic. He tends to hold the ball a bit too long. He needs to look for more combination play opportunities, especially in tight situations. (4 grade).
Mental- The team showed a strong fighting spirit and character from the very beginning holding their own against Chicago Fire after traveling the entire day before and with little time to get acclimatized to the cold weather. On a whole the team never gave up an early goal in the entire tournament. Their fighting spirit against tremendous odds showed a team that has the beginnings of a strong mental capacity to withstand pressure at the highest level of competition.
Physical Fitness- The team was never bothered with physical fitness. On the contrary, in all the games, the players finished stronger in the last 15-20 minutes of the game.
Attack- The team does not have the patience to possess the ball for long periods. We must improve significantly in this area. The few times we did it against the pro teams, we looked just as good as they did. Another deficiency which adds to the frequent loss of possession is the inability to change the point of attack. Far too often two and three passes are made down the same side of the field instead of going across the field in order to stretch the opposing team laterally.
Movement off the ball. Our half backs are not hungry enough to work hard, create space and demand the ball. They just seem content to amble about in the midfield and hope that they get open and a pass come their way.
Our mid-fielders are too static and their runs are more vertical than horizontal.
· Ball Control- The players need to improve their first touch and ability to make quick decisions. We have the tendency to receive the ball and allow the ball to go wherever it pleases. Our players must strive to prepare the ball so that they can pass, dribble of shoot in the shortest possible time.
· Dribbling-None of our players possess the ability to effectively and consistently dribble past a defender in 1 v 1 situations.
· Passing- Very seldom do our players use the outside of the foot to pass the ball. Most of the time the passes are made with the inside of the foot thereby telegraphing their intentions. Our passing decisions are also very bad. The players very seldom think and analyze the best possible options when faced with multiple passing opportunities.
All of the above technical skills contribute towards frequent loss of possession. There were moments, however, when we did possess the ball a bit and as a result we looked just as good as the pro teams we played against. The confidence to possess the ball usually came in the latter part of the game especially when we played with a 3-4-3 formation.
In spite of our deficiencies the team produced some very good goal scoring chances but finishing was not one of our strong points. We do not have a forward who has a penchant to score. Shane Calderon, Hayden Tinto and Randi Patterson all have the ability to become prolific goalscorers.
Defense- The team’s defense back did fantastic as a group. Their aerial strength and hard tackling ability kept the opposing teams off balance. However, our defending as a team needs a lot of improvement. Good defending begins with the first line of defense; it’s forwards, who follow and pressure the opponent. Our forwards must also be supported and rewarded by tenacious tackling from the midfielders. T&T, in practice must come up with a defensive strategy to win back the ball as often as possible in its offensive 1/3.
Coaches and Support Staff Analysis
Ron La Forest (Head Coach)-
Strengths. As a former player, Ron has a good understanding of the game He has a good eye for putting together a cohesive unit. His substitutions are very timely and usually pay rich dividends. Also, his ability to re-arrange game formations during key moments in the game proved to be his biggest asset.
Weaknesses- Ron must improve and become more familiar with modern approaches to the game He knows what he wants but his present training methods are obsolete and static. Ron is, however, very receptive to the new coaching methods introduced to him by Anton, Wim and myself. He is learning fast and this augers well for his overall development.
As a coach he must also improve the way he speaks to his players. Ron can be very abrasive and condescending. However, this deficiency is not unique to Mr. LaForest but rather it is a characteristic shared among far too many Trinbogonians in leadership positions who have yet to embrace the value of building confidence of the people they lead. Our coaches, in particular those who instruct young players, must be keenly aware of the important role they play in impacting the lives of their players.
Recommendations: Ron must eliminate the weak areas of his coaching very soon if he expects to be an effective and successful coach at the national level.
Mike Mc Comie (Asst. Coach)-
Strengths- Mike definitely has the potential to become a quality coach. He is very intelligent and carries himself in a professional manner. He has a good eye for the game having played on the professional level and in a strategic position, goalkeeper, where he developed the ability to read the game well. He is very organized and does well managing the administrative aspects of the job. He is also a fantastic goalkeeping coach.
Weaknesses- He fancies himself as the best young coach in the country. This is dangerous for a developing coach. Once a coach starts thinking of himself as the best among his contemporaries, he is immediately retarding his growth and closing the doors to any future personal development.
Recommendations: Mike is a very strict disciplinarian. However, he must tone down the manner in which he speaks to his players. He must develop esteem- building skills and add a touch of motivation and humour (yes, laughter) to his repertoire of coaching skills.
The Support Staff-
It is the very first time that the support has worked together. We had three veterans on the staff: Peter Rampersad (General Manager); Rudy Roberts (Team Manager); Chala Dore (Physio) and one newcomer in Calvin Hughes (Equipment Manager). The staff had a great relationship from the start and worked together very well.
Peter Rampersad-(General Manager)- As a General Manager and a logistics person, Peter is worth his weight in gold. He is very responsible and under his quiet and unassuming countenance he is very professional in all his dealings whether it be with other staff members, other administrators or players.
Rudy Roberts (Team Manager)- Rudy is a great asset to our program. He has his fingers on the pulse of football at all ages in the country. He also has a good eye for talent. His working relationship with the rest of the staff is excellent.
Ian Dore-(Physio)-Peter Rampersad was very impressed with Ian as the trainer of the team. He handled all injuries competently and meticulously recorded all injuries, ailments and instances where medication was given to players. Ian also pulled his weight offering his services as a goalkeeper coach, assistant manager and driver.
Calvin Hughes (Equipment Manager) – Calvin is the newest addition on the support staff. A policeman by profession, he immediately got the respect of the players. He understood the importance of his job and had all equipment laundered and distributed in a timely fashion. All equipment handed out was accounted for at the end of the tour.
Training Camp Logistics and Resources
The team was housed in the newly renovated University Dormitory called the “EDGE”. The players were housed two per room in a spacious room with two separate bed and study areas. The rooms were fully air conditioned and equipped with internet outlets. While there were no televisions in the rooms, there was a large screen TV in the sitting area of each lounge. This created a much better bonding experience for the players.
The first floor of the dorm consisted of:
· An exercise room and the players made full use of the equipment.
· A special room available to us to allow the University Student-athletes on the team to fulfill their academic commitments.
· Room filled with computers. The computer savvy players had a great time.
The Resident Assistant living in the Dormitory bent over backwards to make our stay as enjoyable and trouble free as possible.
The meals were served in the Cafeteria next to the dormitory. The meals were plentiful with a wide variety of choices. In order to keep the players from putting on weight due to over-eating, we practiced twice daily. The cost for room and board was a bargain; $ 32.00 per person for both room and board. The Cafeteria chef accommodated us by supplying late and early meals when we got back after meal time from games.
The front office staff did everything to make our stay a pleasant one. The office was always at our disposal and our administrators made the best of their hospitality
The cafeteria, dormitory and administrative staffs had very high praises for the comportment of out young men.
The ground transport was pre-paid by the travel agent in T&T, Superl Travel Agency. All the travel rental vehicles were available for us without any hassle at all.
The team trained at the Blackwatch Soccer Club complex. The complex contained eight Bermuda grass fields at our disposal including an immaculate stadium field for scrimmages. The USF assistant coach is the President of the BWSC and they literally adopted us. At the end of the tour, the club gave each player a club t-shirt.
I. Accomplishments of The Tour-
The tour was a tremendous success as it provide us:
· An Opportunity to see our best players vs superior competition
· Final 18 and starting 11 was selected based on this tour
· Opportunity to include college players on the team who would normally be lost to T&T
· Play on international soil against foreign players in strange environment
· Games that would help us improve our speed of play
· Establish key friendships and strategic relationships
· Create a beach head for other teams to utilize as a training camp
· Exposed out local players to college campus
· Exposed our local players to college and pro coaches.
Phones- Communication with T&T by phone was impossible since none of the rooms had no phones and traveling staff mobile phones did not have international roaming ability. It is imperative that the TD and GM be equipped with mobile phones that have that capacity to call T&T and the present situation is unacceptable.
B. Local vs. Foreign Coaches
Two of my most important missions as Technical Director lies in the areas of 1) Player Development and 2) Coaching Development. In order for Trinidad and Tobago football to prosper on every age level, we must have a competent cadre of indigenous coaches. Presently we do not. The effect this has on our national programs is obvious and is reflected in the sometimes naÔve approach our players have towards to the game. That said, the question begs how can our national programs be best served and achieve the mission set forth by GOAL 2014? There are several avenues that can be analyzed and debated especially in relation to the U21 team.
As cited in earlier passages in this report, the present coach, Ron LaForest is a work in progress. However, the national team is not the proper vehicle for developing a coach. Based on my experience with the US national teams, there are two scenarios that would provide a marked improvement over the present situation:
An experienced foreign coach assume duties of the U21 team after the CAC qualifying tournament under the caveat that he works exclusively with coaches from Trinidad and Tobago. The younger national teams will also follow this scenario.
Under this scenario, both our “local” coaches and our players will be exposed to modern training and game preparation methods. In addition, it is imperative each coach on the national team level create a more fraternal and cooperative environment for each other. The main obstacle to this approach is the limited financial resources of the TTFF. However, there are young, dynamic assistant coaches with international experience who would not demand the level of compensation associated with more established coaches.
Recruit a coach from Trinidad and Tobago who has developed their coaching resume abroad. Once again, financial considerations and continued problems with administrative infrastructure may prevent this scenario from coming to fruition. Many of these coaches are involved in stable employment and would only consider coming home once it can be assured that they would receive the level of support and necessary in the same manner usually reserved to foreign coaches. In short, we must recognize there are talented Trinbogonians who deserve the same level of professionalism provided to their European counterparts.
Maintain the current arrangement with Ron LaForest as Head Coach and
commit the necessary resources that will enable him to develop into a top
Whatever scenario is chosen, it is imperative that the overall attitude within our profession change. The present environment encourages petty undermining that frequently victimizes the players and retards the growth and development of the teams that represent our country. As Technical Director I must be both the strongest advocate for coaches from Trinidad and Tobago as well as present the best possible technical resources that will enable our national teams to perform to the best of their abilities.
In the end the TTFF must identify a cadre of at least 36 coaches to perform on the national level for the benefit of male and female teams on every age level from U8 through senior teams.
As for the players, the overall message that I have established is that those who don the national shirt must have a professional approach to the game and that individual skill is not enough to represent Trinidad and Tobago. Some of our most skilled members of the national program have for far too long escaped upholding the responsibilities required of an international footballer. As the saying goes; “to whom much is given, much is expected in return.” The more gifted players must also possess a level of dedication to the game that exceeds their physical abilities.
Finally, enough cannot be said about the effect the residency program in Bradenton, Florida has had on the development the U.S National Team programs since it opened seven years ago. The U.S. U17 team was very competitive not only against our U21 team but also the Major League Soccer teams that were in training. It is my belief that a similar creation in Trinidad and Tobago would bring tremendous results and in many ways would mark an important capstone to the GOAL 2014 program. It would be prudent to organize trips to investigate similar national and club residency programs in Europe and South America.
Addendum # 1
Roster of U-21 ODP Player Pool
James Noel Superstar Rangers
Karlon Murray Jabloteh
Shane Calderon W. Connection
Alil De Freitas St. Anthony’s College
Hayden Tinto Movant Fire
Dion Peters Joe Public
Haseley (Thorne) Holder Joe Public
Joshimar Belgrave Superstar Rangers
Simeon Augustus Movant Fire
Cornal Thomas Superstar Rangers
Akile Edwards Defence Force
Kareem De Freitas St. Anthonys College
Kendall Jagdeosingh Movant Fire
Kezi Lara Unattached
Sean Bateau Fatima College
Morris Kernater Naparima College
Rendell Renwick Princess Town Senior Comprehensive
Kerwin Beckles W.Connection
Yohance Marshall University of South Florida
Abiola Sandy Bowling Green University
Judah Hernandez Florida International University
Justin Hay University of Toronto
Kevon Neaves University of South Florida
Jack Weedon North Carolina State
Mikhali Awai University of Cincinnati
Afif Najaar Southern Illinois University
Makan Hislop University of South Carolina
Kareem Smith University of South Florida.