CHAMPIONS of the 2019 Scotiabank Concacaf NextPlay tournament, Arima Boys’ Government School, celebrated their triumph with a ceremony at the school on Thursday.
The three-weekend-long tournament, which started in November and ended on December 7, saw 64 teams throughout T&T competing.
Coach/teacher Trevor McIntosh spoke with Newsday about the team’s efforts, as it went for glory.
“We had, in all, 11 games to play. Out of the 11, we won ten,” he said,
Despite their first and only loss in the first weekend of the tournament, McIntosh said, the team went on to tally 35 goals, boasting only three goals against them. Bolstering the team’s effort was solid defence work by Kertiesha Joseph from Maloney Government Primary School. The tournament required teams to have both male and female players, so the Arima Boys’ team needed a female player to compete.
McIntosh said while it was an adjustment for the team, the addition of a female player was quickly embraced. Having a girl on the team was “at the beginning, a bit challenging,” he said.
“We could have seen the boys ‘play style’ a bit, but they were studying should they protect her, because they were thinking she was fragile.”
It did not take long for that to change, as Joseph quickly impressed with her skills.
“When she started to play they recognised, ‘Okay, well, she’s one of the boys.’
“Actually, she was tougher than most, and I am not just talking about our team. The end result was a camaraderie between the boys and the girl.”
Overall, the tournament experience contributed to his players’ growth, McIntosh said.
“The experience was, indeed, a fantastic one. It was intense.
“These were the best primary school teams in T&T (we played against) which, more than likely, included club players, because a lot of boys who played with the schools would be playing for clubs.”
McIntosh said the tournament, in his opinion, was more intense than the National Schools Football League, in which the Arima Boys’ team were the champions in 2017. In 2018, the team copped second in the National Schools Football League under-12 domain and in 2019, they won the St George East District Championships.
Looking forward, McIntosh said, “We are using football as a medium to just allow them to grow to the opportunities they will face and the challenges also.
“I believe, if they grow as young men, obviously the football itself will also develop, because once you develop your mind, your thinking, it is holistic.”
Team captain Jeremiah Charles, 11, said, “The experience was good but it was tough, as we played many teams.”
But the challenge did not faze the team. Charles said, “We laughed, talked and had fun. I like football because it is a great sport.”
Charles also plays with the T&T Elite Programme Under 11.
Sekel McIntosh, ten, was grateful for his time on the field.
“I felt very honoured because I’m such a small fella, so I am very glad I was able to play on the team.
“I felt very happy (when we won) because I was part of the team,” said Sekel, who hopes to play with the national team some day.
SOURCE: T&T Newsday