Trinidad and Tobago’s 21-year-old winger Levi Garcia is urging players currently involved in schools football heading into the 2019 season to use the avenue to propel their careers if they intend to make a better life for themselves through the game.
Garcia is currently in training with the National Senior Men’s Team for the 2019 CONCACAF Gold Cup. While the rest of the local football is at a standstill with none of the top tier domestic leagues running, the SSFL has already released its fixtures for the 2019 season schedule to kick off in September.
“It was an amazing part of my career,” was how Garcia described his time playing in the SSFL with Shiva Boys Hindu College.
“I was groomed by one of my older brothers Daniel at the time. It was the highest level of football I could play at that age and it was a great experience for me. School football is something special. It motivated me at the time. You can develop yourself in schools football but don’t stay too long…try to move on from there as soon as you get an opportunity.
“Players have to use the Schools League as a stepping stone. I got the opportunity to play club football because of how well I progressed at 16 and 17 while playing for my school and also representing Trinidad and Tobago at the youth level,” Garcia added.
In 2012 Garcia guided Shiva Boys to the South Zone League title. He was part of the T&T Under 17 Men’s Team that narrowly missed out on qualification for the FIFA Under 17 Men’s World Cup in 2013, losing to hosts Panama 4-2 in a match where a win would have secured qualification.
“It is a good balance being in school and playing football,” Garcia continued.
“If a teacher pushes you to do work, it shows on the field. You tend to feel more comfortable as a player if you do your school work well. It really helps you develop as an individual.
“Playing in the SSFL is also a good scouting platform for young players because it gives you the chance to be seen by local coaches and earn a pick on the national youth teams like I was able to do a few years ago. Today I have moved up and I am now a proud member of the National Senior men’s team under Dennis Lawrence and alongside some of the best players in the country preparing to go to my first Gold Cup,” Garcia said.
The Santa Flora-born player is currently playing in Israel with Ironi Kiryat Shmona. He secured his first contract in Europe with AZ Almaar in the Dutch Eredivisie in February 2015. Levi was born to parents Carl and Judith, he has two sisters Adanna and Carla and three brothers Daniel, Nathaniel and Judah, the latter two also having worn national colours. Judah is also currently in the T&T Gold Cup provisional squad.
“Stay in School and try to use sport and football as a vehicle to better your life. Football can take you to great places and put you in a position to be comfortable in life,” Garcia concluded.