Sat, Feb

National footballer John Paul Rochford speaks to the media during a press conference at the Police Barracks Ground, St James, on Friday. PHOTO BY AYANNA KINSALE - Ayanna Kinsale

FORMER national youth footballer John-Paul Rochford, who is currently part of the national senior team training squad, said it is big step from youth level to senior team football.

Rochford spoke to the media following a training session at the Police Barracks Ground in St James, on Friday. A squad of over 35 players recently resumed training with head coach Terry Fenwick after covid19 restrictions were relaxed.

Rochford, 20, said he is glad to return to training after local sports came to a halt in March.

“Even though there were times at home, going out into the field I would have had some taste of football, it was not like how it use to be before – training, playing games, stadiums – now that it is back and everyone is excited, everyone is ready for the upcoming (Ascension) League that they say they are preparing.

We are waiting on our toes and soon as they say it starting back, we ready.”

Rochford, a former top player in the Secondary Schools Football League with Queen’s Royal College (QRC), gave his thoughts on senior level football compared to youth level.

“It is totally different. It is more advanced, it is more complex, the intensity is higher. Stuff that you could get away with at the Under-17 level, the Under-20 level you can’t get away with at the senior level.

You need to be fitter, stronger, faster, you need to think faster. It is a big jump, a big step.”

Rochford, an attacking midfielder, said coming into this training camp he knew what to expect.

“I am grateful that before this time I was introduced to the senior team so I know what was expected so I could prepare for it.

Now that I am here, I will do everything in my power possible to be prepared for anything that comes around, so I will be able to be selected to represent at the senior level.”

More than 15 players on the training squad are aged 22 or younger.

The AC Port of Spain player said this has allowed him to gel with the players.

“It is a very good feeling. I am comfortable,” Rochford said.

The former QRC student said even when there were less youngsters on the squad he was not uncomfortable because everyone shares the same goal. “Even before when it was one or two of the youths (on the squad) I was still comfortable because everyone plays football (and) I know the players. Everyone is there for one purpose – represent the country, to carry the country on our shoulders (and) make the country proud.”