A Trinidad and Tobago National Under-15 Girls Team departs this morning to contest the CONCACAF Under-15 Girls Championship in Disney, Orlando, USA.
The 18-player squad was finalised by head coach Marlon Charles, who conducted a final session at the University of the West Indies Ground, St Augustine on Saturday morning. The team has been in training for several weeks under Charles and his staff in preparation for their opening match against the United States on August 9.
T&T will also come up against Mexico, Haiti and the Dominican Republic, in group play.
Charles said he was pleased with the progress of the team.
“We started off with 65 players and now we are down to 18, and I must give credit to every player who took part in the preparations. The parents as well have been there supporting and it’s been quite a journey so far,” Charles told TTFA Media.
Looking ahead to the competition, he added: “This is going to be a whole new experience for the players, not just on the football field but in so many situations. Many of them have never travelled before, some have never been to the United States before, especially a place like Disney, and so I must give credit to CONCACAF for starting the women’s programme from this age, as it augers very well for the development of the women’s game.”
T&T will be up against the US, which is a known powerhouse in women’s football. “At this level, what you will find is players who are still learning and playing for the first time, so while the United States will have more resources than us, I don’t want to say that they will be superior or for us to fear them.
“We want our players to enjoy every bit of the experience. We are not putting any pressure on them. The main reason for this tournament and the exercise on a whole is to get them to love the game, to learn the game and to get the experience of such a tournament from very early in their careers,” Charles added.
He summed up the preparation and the composition of the squad.
“We have players from Tobago, north, south and parts of the east as far as Mayaro. We have some good players in every department, but of course we will see how they perform at this level. Again, we are not going there to place pressure on the players but at the same time we will be using it as a learning experience and one which we as coaches can evaluate for the future.”
Coach Charles commented that the preparation was good.
“The TTFA did what it could to ensure we had the opportunity to prepare well and we tried to maximise the time that we had leading up to the tournament.”
TTFA President David John-Williams also wished the team well in its first international tournament. “We’ve had the Under-15 Girls team in preparation for some time, and I know they have been hard at work,” Williams said. “This is a wonderful opportunity for the young players in our women’s programme to get such an experience at this early stage at the CONCACAF level and we are very pleased to have them heading off to Orlando and we’d like to wish them well in the tournament.”
Twenty-two (22) nations from across the CONCACAF region, as well as CONMEBOL invitee Venezuela, have signed on to participate in the tournament, designed to encourage development for youth players from across the Confederation, while promoting competition at the international level for all member associations—including those for which few opportunities have previously existed at this age level.
T&T finished third at the 2014 Under-15 Championship when they defeated Honduras in the third place playoff.
This year’s tournament will run from August 9-21, 2016.