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HEAD coach of the Cox Academy, Dennis Cox, is urging the Ministry of Sport and the Government to place more focus on youth development in sport following his club’s second-place finish in the MILO Champions Cup in Barcelona, Spain.

The squad of six boys and two girls, all under the age of 15, returned home yesterday and, in a celebratory session at the Piarco International Airport, Cox said this was the next step to ensuring teens like those from his Palo Seco-based coaching school took it to the next level. Team TT lost the final to Jamaica on penalty kicks but Cox made it clear the positives were abundant and the performance of his kids augurs well for the future.

“The kids were wonderful. They finished first in the league and second in the knockouts. It was all a team effort. We played many different countries but we took it one game at a time,” he said, referencing other teams involved such as Malaysia, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Maldives, Vietnam, Colombia, Chile, South Africa and Panama.

As for how he rallied his crew, he revealed, “I’ve been working with kids for over 35 years now so I know how to motivate them and put them in a good team spirit. Moving on from this, I’ll just keep working with the kids. As I said, I love working with them and I want to help them be the best. But we need more grassroots programmes, bigger initiatives across the country and also, better facilities. The Ministry has to help us with the next generation of footballers.”

His roster comprised of goalkeeper Mikhail Clement; defenders Adam Pierre, Kai Ollivierra, Shadasia Sanchez; midfielders Abigail Cornwall, Derrel Garcia (captain); and forwards Vaughn Clement and Donovan Drayton. Garcia, in particular, stunned the crowds at the tournament which began July 29 and ended August 5 by copping the Most Goals award with 20. He said that with four outfield players and one goalkeeper at a time, it played to his advantage.

“I felt good. It was really exciting. I enjoyed motivating my players and even though we lost, it was on penalties, so it was a hard luck,” said the 12 year-old Garcia of Beach Camp Private School.

The Standard Four student added, “My next step is to make Trinidad and Tobago proud. I want to play college football and make the national team. I’m having training (today) for the national Under-13s. It’s my first time and I’m excited to represent my country someday.”

Garcia indicated seeing Lionel Messi and other superstars when Barcelona played Arsenal on Sunday was something special as the Argentine is the idol of so many of his teammates. This was the kind of impact Nestle’s Business Executive Officer Sean Wallace hoped for when the project was conceived.

“We take pride in this, especially as two Caribbean teams made the final. They showed their class, showcased their abilities and did so well. It’s a testament to our Caribbean ingenuity and athleticism,” he said, mentioning this was the third year out of a four-year partnership with FC Barcelona. Wallace divulged he didn’t know what the future holds for the programme but added that they were meeting their goals.

“This project is encouraging 20 million children globally to live active lifestyles,” said Wallace. “We at MILO support youth and sport development on the whole, as seen with so many programmes such as athletics and other sports across the Caribbean we invest in. With this Barcelona partnership, you can tell the kids are having a ball. How would you feel if you were under 13 years old and got to go to Barcelona? They played on the Nou Camp field, even sat in the coaches seats and watched the Arsenal match. That’s how we want to inspire them.”


SOURCE: T&T Newsday