Youngsters show promise for T&T.

Remember the short man who came on for Kenwyne Jones and began running aggressively at Jamaica. That was Trevin Caesar. Trinidad and Tobago national team coach Stephen Hart felt Caesar shook up the Reggae Boys when T&T won a friendly international 2-0 at the Hasely Crawford Stadium on November 19. Caesar was making his senior team debut.

Many of the 8,000 or so in the Hasely Crawford Stadium on Tuesday probably had never heard about the player, although he has represented T&T at Under-23 level. He has played for Ma Pau, Caledonia AIA and North East Stars, is aggressive and a handful for most defenders.

“Caesar came in.... no fear. Actually, he put fear into Jamaica. But no fear in his performance,” Hart said. “So, the players are feeding off the other players, and I think that is important.

Caesar is no stranger to those who regularly look at the local Pro League. The competition is not a waste as some say, just developmental. The Pro League may not be La Liga or the English Premier League, but is probably up to the standard of the lower levels in England and Scotland.

But Caesar was not the only home-grown youngster to make a good impression last Tuesday.

Up until a few months ago, Ataullah Guerra was playing for Caledonia AIA in the Pro League before joining Rovaniemen Palloseura (RoPS) in Finland. So too was the now seriously ill Akeem Adams, Hughtun Hector, Willis Plaza, Seon Power, Radanfah Abu Bakr, Carlyle Mitchell, and Daneil Cyrus, who had just left to join the champion club in Vietnam.

Also coming out of the Pro League were Kenwyne Jones (W Connection/Stoke City) and Carlos Edwards (Defence Force/Ipswich Town). In his six months in charge, Hart has been a regular Pro League visitor. It is there that he spotted Caesar, Central FC striker Rundell Winchester, and W Connection starlet Joevin Jones. 

Winchester, who only turns 20 years old on December 16, came to prominence last year when playing for Tobago’s Stokely Vale in the FA Trophy competition. He and teammates Darren “Chucky” Mitchell were quickly signed by Central FC’s Terry Fenwick in the January transfer window. Speaking to the media after the Jamaica match, Hart felt Winchester was a player for the future.

“Rundell was kinda thrown into the deep end. The young man has some qualities. He has to learn how to bring those qualities to the team, but it is a big learning curve for him,” Hart said. “Some things went wrong for him tonight, but he never hid. He wanted the ball, he took people on, he got the penalty and for me that is the making of a player for the future. You’ve got to remember, he’s 19 years old, we have to give him time, and he is going to make mistakes, but that’s fantastic.”

Hart also spoke of Jones (Joevin), who has been the best player in the Pro League the last two years. In that competition, he has the confidence to score goals from long range, go by players and score at impossible angles. He is an exciting prospect, but does not seem to yet have the same confidence in a Trinidad and Tobago shirt. Jones got into great positions against Jamaica, but seemed timid to take on his man. Hart wants him to come out of his shell and be the player that regularly shows up for W Connection.

“Joevin has a lot of quality and it’s no good if he’s an arbitrary passer of the ball,” Hart said. “He has to pick up and make things happen. That’s what football is about.”

And although former Roxborough Anglican player Kevan George is based in the USA, Hart also sees promise in him.

“Kevan George, quiet surprise. He does his job,” Hart said. “He has some bite in the midfield.. good passer of the ball, so it’s good.”

For the young players Hart selected,  national team selection is an opportunity to be seized at this stage as the squad is shaped for the future. It is an opportunity some of them seem to be taking.