NATIONAL beach soccer goalkeeper, Zane Coker, believes that starting a beach soccer league in Trinidad and Tobago, will help promote the sport here and increase our chances of qualifying for the Beach Soccer World Cup in the future.
T&T finished seventh in the recently concluded CONCACAF Beach Soccer Championships in Bahamas, a drop of two places from the last Championships in 2015.
Only the finalists were awarded spots in the 2017 FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup to be also held in Bahamas.
Coker said that a number of steps can be taken to improve beach soccer in T&T. The Switzerland-based goalie believes an international size pitch with quality sand to train is essential. Turtle Beach in Tobago is one of the venues that the T&T team use for training but the access is limited due to the nesting season.
But foremost, he believes setting up a league locally will derive multiple benefits and help develop a beach sport culture on the island and consequently improve the national setup.
“Another thing that we can do is a league. Panama actually won the CONCACAF Beach Soccer qualifiers, which was an underdog team. They impressed and shocked the world. Panama has a league, it may not be one of the top leagues, however there is a league and they get players playing constantly. In Trinidad and Tobago we don’t have that, we don’t have the full team playing at a certain point in time.
We have some players playing in Europe which is probably four or five,” Coker said.
He explained that competing four or five months during a year is not enough for T&T to be successful at the highest level.
“Definitely (a local league will increase the pool of players).
When you have a league it is so much better for us, because where we are situated in the world, the weather here is perfect all year around for beach football. Even in Europe, where they have their leagues running in the summer, in winter these players don’t really have anything to do (and they can come here).” Coker added that having top international beach players compete here will increase the standard of a local league.
Concerning the CONCACAF qualifiers, Coker said the team had solid preparations before the tournament, but said there were some mental lapses that cost the team.
“Everything was put in place for us preparation wise. It was amazing.
The team did not perform as well as we thought we should have.
There were a lot of stuff that happened both on and off the field of play that the players did not keep a mental edge on, like the officiating and some other little problems that we had, that we should have been a little more mentally prepared for.
“We had a couple injuries and a couple players had the flu. I am not making any excuses, but at the same time it is what it is. Where the performance is concerned, we had a very good showing. We were a lot better than we were in the last qualifiers in terms of the team’s performance.”