San Juan Jabloteh ought to attract the bulk of the attention this coming Sunday as the current triple-triple champions, attempting a fourth consecutive sweep of all three divisions, kick off the new Flow Youth Pro League 2018 season away to Defence Force at Trinity College in Trincity in the Under-14, Under-16 and Under-18 divisions.
Also on Sunday, the Mannie Ramjohn Stadium training fields in Marabella will host a full day of action with Club Sando hosting Police FC in the U14, U16 and U18 divisions and Central FC hosting St. Ann’s Rangers in the U14 and U16 divisions.
Elsewhere, Morvant Caledonia United will host Point Fortin Civic in the U14 division.
As customary, the U14, U16 and U18 matches will be contested from 10am, 2pm and 4pm respectively.
However, new this season, the Flow YPL calendar will see one round of league action (February 18 – April 22) before ending with the inaugural knockout competition (April 29 – May 27).
“The Flow Youth Pro League will continue to have a dynamic approach to youth football in Trinidad and Tobago,” said Pro League CEO Dexter Skeene during the launch of the 2018 Flow YPL earlier this month. “We will afford teams this year the opportunity to play two competitions and so be in line to win two competitions. This will bring further interest and generate excitement to the Flow Youth Pro League brand.
Skeene also said there will be increased television coverage through local sports channel Wi Sports (Flow channel 14) as well as heightened social media involvement.
“Our goal is to continue to make the Flow Youth Pro League a compelling and attractive sports property which is cherished, admired and supported by all the youth. They must crave and want to play in it, support it and follow it. This will help build the fan base of the League. We can’t underestimate the value of this Youth Pro League, it mirrors the senior Pro League.”
Thirty teams involving hundreds of young players hoping to shine under the blanket of the ten (10) Pro League clubs – San Juan Jabloteh, W Connection, Central FC, Police FC, Defence Force, Morvant Caledonia United, Point Fortin Civic and St. Ann’s Rangers – will test their ability over the next four months to become champions.
“We are going to do the same things,” said Jabloteh Under-18 head coach Gilbert Bateau, who also oversees the entire youth programme alongside technical director Keith Jeffrey. “And we are confident we can repeat what we achieved in the last three years.
“[But] we are not forgetting that this is really about the players’ development. Yes the players will want to win and the coaches will want to win, but it is all about the development. We as clubs must do our part in trying to develop players [at junior level] to be the best that they can be to support the national teams. [At Jabloteh] the thinking is, if we do the developmental part right and ask them the play the best of their ability together with the right enthusiasm, then we can hope for the right results.”
Jabloteh’s approach to development of both players and coaches will again see a combined effort with Dave Weeks working alongside Andy Morales and Junior Neptune with the U14 and U16 divisions, respectively, while technical director Keith Jeffrey and Bateau will oversee the full youth programme.
Jeffrey and Bateau also serves as the club’s professional team’s head coach and assistant coach, respectively.