DANTAYE GILBERT, Tau Lamsee and Addae Paponette topped the list of finalists of the Nestle Milo FC Barcelona Football Tournament, which was staged yesterday morning at the Larry Gomes Stadium, Arima.

And, as a reward for their accomplishments, they will each be joined by a parent/family member to head to Spain, on August 22 and 23, for a two-day training camp with coaches of the famed FC Barcelona club. 

The children were assessed in three skill sets - dribbling, short passing and control.

But it was the 12-year-old Gilbert, supported by a group of his family members, who was the undisputed winner, as he tallied 265 points, with the 10-year-old Lamsee next on 245. 

Paponette and Aalon Wilson- Wright were joint third with 230 and a sudden-death tie-break (with each player attempting to hit the crossbar from the penalty spot) required to determine the last person on the trip to Spain. 

After two unsuccessful tries, Paponette struck the bar while Wilson- Wright was unable to hit the target with his third attempt. 

Completing the top 10 were Aydon Caruth, Ramone Sawh, Kassidy Davidson (225 each), Anton Joseph (220), Dante Moses (215) and Shaheim O’Brian (210). 

Reflecting on his win, Gilbert pointed out, “It’s exceptional. I can’t wait to get there.” He admitted, “It wasn’t as hard as I expected. I was focused on what I had to do. I had a mission (set out).” About his forthcoming trip, Gilbert said, “I hope to get the respect of the coaches and the great experience that is to come.” Ex-England defender and former San Juan Jabloteh and Central FC coach, Terry Fenwick, was the main coach of this month-long exercise. 

“I think it was a wonderful initiative,” he said. “It brought kids out from all around Trinidad and Tobago. Its got the kids practicing skills sets that are all important for their future in football.” Fenwick continued, “In that respect, it makes it very transparent. 

It’s not about the coaches’ selections, it’s about what the kids score. 

So they turn up, they do their stuff, the exercises that they’ve not necessarily done before. 

“But these are exercises that are done all over Europe now, all the bigger clubs in Europe, at these development age groups. So I’m delighted with how this went.” Fenwick called on the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) to implement such initiatives into their development programmes. 

Looking ahead to the future, Fenwick noted, “I think we’ve got some outstanding young kids. My personal view is that (those) youngsters that we’ve got are let down by the coaching methods that we’re still using here in Trinidad.”

This event is part of a four-year agreement between Nestle Milo and FC Barcelona, which is based on a shared vision to promote healthier lifestyles through physical activity among children, especially during their foundation years, seven to 12 years old.