Trinidad and Tobago’s National Under 15 Boys team returned from their maiden overseas trip to Cali. Colombia on the weekend after narrowly missing out on progressing to the second round of the Tournament of the Americas.

The squad, which has been selected with the aim of preparing for the 2015 FIFA Under 17 World Cup, drew their final match 2-2 last Thursday against Colombian Under 17 team Providencia.

St Augustine Secondary and Joe Public midfielder Jesse Joseph scored in the 14th minute while Arima Secondary forward Dareem Daniel netting in the 75th. The result meant T&T ended on seven points, same as three other teams in their group but missed out advancing on goal difference.

T&T, appearing in the tournament through assistance from the Ministry of Sport and SPORTT, had earlier defeated Real Sociedad 1-0 and Seville 3-1 before losing to group winners America SA 3-0 in their penultimate game.

Head Coach Shawn Cooper, who was assisted by coaches Ross Russell and Leonson Lewis, believed his players benefited from the exercise.

“It was certainly a level up from what they play at home in the Secondary Schools League and local club football,” Cooper told TTFA Media. 

“Our boys I thought played well in parts but they realized that there is a difference at this level. We were playing against Under 17 teams while our boys are still 15 and under. I welcomed that challenge for them because it means we would have had some great experience playing against some of the top youth teams in Colombia and other parts of Latin America before we head into competition for 2015.”

“You could actually here these players speaking among themselves about how the opponents were closing them down making runs off the ball and what they in turn needed to do better. This was about football education as well and brought a lot of benefits for us,” he added.

TTFA Technical Director Anton Corneal was pleased to see the team have the opportunity to play against foreign opposition. 

“It’s the only way for us to develop and gain the much needed experience at the youth level. What we do with these players at home is all well and good but we will only know how we are progressing when we compete with some of the better ones in countries where football is a top priority.

Only then can we have our players also realize what are their faults that need to be worked on and what are their strengths that can to be capitalized on. And this must happen before they get to the Under 20 or Under 23 level before making the step up to the senior level,” Corneal said.