QRC STUDENT Nathaniel James will be one of the players local football fans can look out for when the national Boys Under-15 team take center stage from July 17 at the TTFA (TT Football Association) Youth Invitational tournament.
Three days of matches are scheduled for the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva and Hasely Crawford Stadium in Mucurapo, with Boys teams from Panama, Mexico and Venezuela taking part, while the Curacao Girls Under-16s will face off with TT’s Girls U-16s in two matches.
Under the guidance of coach Stuart Charles-Fevrier, T&T’s boys are preparing for the 2019 CONCACAF Under-15 Championship at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, United States.
The team has been together since 2017 with regular training sessions and practice games every week with one overseas tour to Curacao in August 2018 where they topped hosts Curacao 2-0 to finish winners of their Caribbean Football Union (CFU) group.
“It’s been a really enjoyable and exciting journey so far,” said James, who recently had a stint in Spain with David Nakhid’s International Academy at the Madrid International Cup.
“We have been in training for quite some time and this tournament coming up will be great opportunity for us to test ourselves. I’m really excited because it will will be the first time we are playing against opposition from outside of the Caribbean. I think my teammates are very excited also. It will really give us a chance to see what level we are at and how much we have developed over the past two years,” he added. “We are going to match them. We are going to compete and we are going to give our best.”
James has honour and pride on his shoulders everytime he steps on the pitch in T&T colours.
“What makes me feel honoured is hearing my national team’s anthem when I am about to play. You feel all the nerves before the game but when the whistle blows everything takes over after that.
“It means everything to me to represent my country. Ever since I was a little boy I’ve wanted to represent T&T.” The 14-year-old attributed his discipline and success to not only his personal sacrifices but the efforts of his both parents.
“They have been with me through it all. I’ve had some difficult times. There was a time when I had training and I would reach home late most days. It was hard to keep up with my school work and my grades were dropping. It needed a little more effort to improve myself and get better grades. I have to miss a lot of time with my friends and I can’t lime late. I have to be asleep early,” James noted.
“The people who inspire me to be who I am will definitely be my mom and dad and my idol Lionel Messi. I admire my parents for the way they try to help me in every single way. The time when I got my lowest grades ever my mom and dad were very disappointed and almost at the point where they probably wanted to give up on me. But they didn’t stop. They came and tried with me and it’s working out now and I really appreciate them for that,” he said.
“I want to make it a World Cup. I want to play in a Champions League and I just want to take Trinidad and Tobago football to greater heights. I’m a proud Trinbagonian and I am inviting the fans to come out and support us from July 17,” James ended.
T&T face Panama at 7.15 pm at the Ato Boldon Stadium on July 17 with Mexico and Venezuela’s U-15s squaring off from 5 pm at the Couva venue.
Tickets are available at all NLCB Lotto outlets. Tickets are priced at $40 per matchday and $100 for tournament pass which will give fans access to all three matchdays.