Sun, May

TTFA Technical Director Anton Corneal (fourth from left), along with Republic Bank officials and players at the launch of the 2024 Republic Cup season on Monday, January 22nd 2024.

The 28th edition of the Republic Cup National Youth Football League (NYFL) will kick off on February 24.

The 2024 season will conclude on June 1, when the national finals in the respective age groups are contested. The finals of the Trinidad leg of the competition will be played on May 25-26.

At the launch of the upcoming season at the Republic Bank Sports Club in Barataria on January 22, both Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) technical director Anton Corneal and Gateway Athletics International managing director Shem Alexander gave ringing endorsements of the Republic Cup.

This year's competition will have three age group categories being contested among the boys – under-14, under-16 and under-20 – with the under-20 category being the lone age group to be contested among girls' teams.

The Republic Cup will have representation from five zones: Central, East, North, South and Tobago, with Alexander expecting the East to have the most representatives in the tournament.

The top two teams in the boys' under-14 and under-16 groups will advance to the Trinidad quarter-finals, with the East zone expected to have as many as four teams represented in the under-20 quarter-finals for the Trinidad leg of the tournament.

In each age group, the top team in Trinidad will tackle the triumphant team in Tobago to crown the national champion.

With Gateway Athletics overseeing the operations of the tournament for a third straight season, Alexander thanked the TTFA for its "indispensable support."

He said several players were able to land scholarships during last year's activities, which included April's All-star weekend, which exposed the players to representatives from at least four US colleges, along with foreign scouts. Alexander said a handful of players were also scooped up by German-based recruitment agency Next Level Talents, with goalkeeper Tor Fletcher, former T&T under-20 player Christian Bailey and the Tobago pair of Jonathan Gibbs and Kadeem Moses among the youngsters being recruited.

Alexander said the Republic Cup fosters a "strong sense of community" and he sees sport as the avenue to rebuild a harmonious T&T.

"The Republic Cup is not just a youth football tournament, it is a force for positive change."

Corneal said, "I am encouraged when I see the support from Republic Bank. They really are trying to make a difference."

The TTFA technical director said the Republic Cup was instrumental in harnessing the footballing and social skills of the nation's youth.

"This is just one area in our long-term development plan. We help the young people gain the opportunity to learn social values which are dwindling in our society.

"There will be the elite side, where players get the opportunity to ply their trade...but there is a bigger picture at play here. We are there for the clubs. We are there to meet their needs."

Last year, St Augustine FC emerged champions in the girls' under-20 age group.

Pro Series copped titles in the under-15 and under-17 age groups in Trinidad, with FC Ginga and Defence Force copping the respective under-13 and under-20 crowns.

SOURCE: T&T Newsday