Former Trinidad and Tobago goalkeeper and current Men’s Senior Team goalkeeper coach Ross Russell says during his days wearing national colours he could have only dreamt about a facility where he could walk from his room straight onto the training pitch for residential training camps with the national team.
Russell was commenting on Thursday after a training session at the Ato Boldon Stadium as the senior men’s team continued its preparations for the Wales encounter on March 20th at the Racecourse.
“Back in my time it was different, we either had to come from home all the time or we would stay in a public hotel. We never had this kind of opportunity that the current bunch will have with the home of football where they can practically roll off their beds and walk onto the training pitch,” Russell told TTFA Media.
“I think it’s a great step for the association and local football, especially youth players.It was also a big surprise to see the development that has taken place on the sight because it’s only the other day I was able to see it. Teams will be more comfortable now and the coaches can plan their training camps and know exactly what they can do when it comes to preparing national teams for competitions in the future,” he said.
Russell stood in goal during the 1996 Concacaf Gold Cup where T&T scored to go 1-0 ahead through an Arnold Dwarika first half strike but lost 3-2 to the US and also lost 3-2 to El Salvador despite a second half double by Russell Latapy to level the scores at 2-2 in the second half.
“Now as the goalkeeper coach I am definitely looking forward to returning to the Gold Cup as a member of the coaching staff. It’s been great for me to be part of this effort. I have continued to learn and experience a lot,” he said.
“Going into the Wales game, it’s a big bite for Trinidad and Tobago because Wales is a big footballing country. We are training like a club team right now because most of the players are in offseason. We trained right through the Carnival season and that’s great for the players. I have two brilliant goalkeepers in Adrian Foncette and Marvin Phillip. I think they work hard everyday.
“We are doing research on past youth goalkeepers to see where they are now and to try and get them back on board. We have to start preparing for down the road. We are in good hands with Dennis because he does his homework
“It’s a also a great step for Dennis to get re-signed as head coach of the national team. I know the results in the past wasn’t what he would have wanted but he took over half way through it. Now is his time to really shine and I know the Gold Cup is a huge step for him. Me and the other coaches are supporting him one hundred percent and I think the association is helping him as well,” Russell said.
Russell experienced a health scare in 2014 when he was admitted to the West Shore Medical for observation and he was sidelined for a short period. Since then he has paid special emphasis on his physical being and has continued to serve local football.
“I have to praise the Lord for my return. It was a shock for my family and friends and even the Defence Force to see a healthy coach fall sick suddenly, it was really hard for me. It was seven of the worst days I ever had in my life not being able to cope with it,” he recalled.
“My family did a lot to help me through it. My kids were there. It was a long journey but they were with me everyday. The football fraternity and the football association helped a lot by sending people to ensure I was alright.
“I was well taken care of by the Defence Force, they took care of all my bills. The football family really helped. Brian Williams and Kerry Jamerson did a lot to motivate me and keep me going. People like coach Shawn Cooper, Anton Corneal and the (Under 20) manager at the time Christo Gouveia, they were all with me along the way and they still check up on me today. Even Stern (John) still checks on my eating habits. He, Ansil Elcock and Arnold Dwarika were there with me. Dr Welch was there head and head with me. I couldn’t thank these people enough and now I am just thankful to be up and able to offer my services” Russell concluded.