This country will host a new Caribbean Youth Cup from August 3 to 13 this year inclusive of 20 National Under 15 teams to be played at venues across the twin-island Republic.
This was announced at the launch of the Caribbean Football Union tournament at the VIP lounge, Hasely Crawford Stadium at which the New National Under 15 team, coached by Ken Elie was unveiled before the list of guests which included CFU and CONCACAF President Jack Warner, CFU General Secretary Kerri-Ann Alleyne, National team head coach Leo Beenhakker, TTFF Technical Director Lincoln Phillips and youth development officer Anton Corneal as well as TTFF President Oliver Camps
The tournament which is the brainchild of Warner is set to be an annual event hosted in T&T and will have as guests in the opening year national teams from Guatemala and Canada. Mexico was also invited but had to decline due to unforeseen difficulties
Warner said the tournament was a chance for Caribbean teams to get exposure to international competition, adding that the age category could vary over the years and that a competition for women could also be introduced. With action every year, it will alternate between Under 15 and Under 16. Therefore the players in the 2005 U15 Tournament can represent their countries in 2006, as Under 16 Youths preparing to qualify for the FIFA Under 17 Championship in Canada in 2007. Qualification for the 2007 World Championship takes place in 2006 and Warner hinted that the CFU Cup could be used as a qualifying phase.
“It has been noted that for every major competition abroad, the teams from the Caribbean are sometimes the last to reach there and the first to come back home, “Warner said. “Ask Mr Beenhakker, whether it is in Miami or Alaska you better believe that our teams are always the first to come home. This is now a chance for us to establish ourselves and be able to put ourselves in a position for future tournaments to be the last to come leave. Why couldn’t we beat Panama in the Gold Cup. Didn’t we beat them here 2-0? But there are things we have to do both on and off the field to give you the spirit to succeed. You have passion, you have to guts, you have to have courage, vision and ambition to succeed in football. Those are things that cannot be taught by a coach but it might be able to be taught by a calypsonian by listening to a CD over and over. We hope that with this tournament of this nature, the necessary steps will be taken to get all the ingredients together."
Warner revealed that the tournament will cost $1.5 million to be staged with assistance coming from his companies Simpaul’s Travel Agency, Catch of the day as well as aid coming from Blue Waters, 20/20 Productions and Inglefield Ogilvy & Mather Caribbean Ltd.
T&T will play the second game of a double header on the opening day of the tournament on against Netherlands Antilles on August 3 at 6pm. T&T’s fellow Group E teams St Kitts/Nevis and Anguilla will meet in the opening match.
T&T will then face St Kitts on August 5 at the Hasely Crawford Stadium and Anguilla two days later at the same venue.
The T&T squad is currently in training under Elie with Hutson Charles as his assistant and is expected to be cut to a final 20-man squad on the weekend.
“We are at a stage now where the team is just about to be cut down to the final set of guys for the tournament so obviously we are taking a closer look and the players themselves are trying to step it up. We feel it’s a ideal tournament for the younger players to have a chance to be exposed to playing against other countries and I’m pretty sure we are poised to make a good impression in the first one,”Elie told TTFF Media.
Admission is $10 anywhere and $5 for kids under 12.
Click here for Full Fixtures