Sun, Sep

Hislop: Youth football better than my times.

Youth foot­ball seems to be in safe hands in T&T de­spite the per­cep­tion it has been dy­ing.

Sha­ka His­lop, a for­mer St Mary' Col­lege goal­keep­er who went on to be­come a pro­fes­sion­al play­er for New­cas­tle Unit­ed in the Eng­lish Pre­mier­ship, and oth­er EPL clubs, made the state­ment in an in­ter­view on the CNC3 TV Morn­ing Brew pro­gramme on Mon­day.

His­lop, 50, who had meet­ings with Pres­i­dent of the Sec­ondary Schools Foot­ball League (SS­FL) William Wal­lace on ways he can play a more in­te­gral role in a tour­na­ment that has helped him with his ath­let­ic and aca­d­e­m­ic prowess, said we have the tal­ent to com­pete in­ter­na­tion­al­ly with­out a doubt.

"We have the tal­ent and this has been a crit­i­cism of our youth foot­ball, that the kids aren't good enough, and that the de­vel­op­ment that we af­ford them isn't what it used to be," His­lop said.

He not­ed, "Just giv­en what I saw at the week­end be­tween Na­pari­ma and Pre­sen­ta­tion Col­lege at the Man­nie Ramjohn Sta­di­um, I be­lieve the tal­ent is even more than what I ex­pe­ri­enced, and I came through sec­ondary schools at a time when there were the likes of Dwight Yorke and Rus­sell Lat­apy. I think they do have that kind of tal­ent. What they have now is a plat­form to show­case that tal­ent."

His­lop al­so added, "What I al­so recog­nise in our foot­ball in look­ing at the NCAA Col­lege soc­cer in the US, is that tech­ni­cal­ly, our young play­ers are far more ad­vanced than the old­er play­ers there. We now have to find chan­nels to move our play­ers, not just from Sec­ondary schools to the pro­fes­sion­al ranks, but it may take dif­fer­ent steps."

Ac­cord­ing to His­lop, who is an ES­PN foot­ball an­a­lyst and com­men­ta­tor, "I don't think I could have moved from CIC to a pro­fes­sion­al set-up. I need­ed the ex­pe­ri­ence, dis­ci­pline and the ma­tu­ri­ty that came with my col­lege years. We need to find step­ping stones for each of our in­di­vid­u­als. I don't think we have served the young men and women, as their tal­ent de­served."

The SS­FL kicks off to­mor­row with a mouth-wa­ter­ing con­test be­tween triple crown win­ners Na­pari­ma Col­lege and St Mary's from 4 pm at Lewis Street in San Fer­nan­do in the Pre­mier Di­vi­sion.

His­lop, who is the League's Am­bas­sador, al­so met with the cap­tains of all the Pre­mier Di­vi­sion teams at a func­tion at the HY­ATT ho­tel in Port-of-Spain yes­ter­day.