Fri, Apr

Sean Cooper sets sights on changing T&T football

Sean Cooper, the former national youth standout and St Anthony's College midfielder/striker, is set to change the dynamics of T&T football. And he comes highly recommended from a number of this country's current and past professionals.

In early September, Cooper signed as a football agent for Canadian company Ottawa Pro Sports Management (OPSM) on a permanent contract, thereby officially handing him a mandate to provide lucrative opportunities for young players desirous of playing professionally abroad, as well as those who want to acquire scholarships internationally.

He is set to cover the areas of South America and the Confederation of North Central America and the Caribbean (CONCACAF) at the start before he adds Europe to his portfolio. However, he believes that although he has a keen interest to work in Jamaica, he has a personal interest in his native T&T, where he said the sport is at an all-time low and opportunities are scarce for many young players presently.

The multitalented ex-TT player is in his final year at Suriname-based club West United in the Suriname Football League, where he plays as a striker and is also a trusted man to his president and club owner Irwin Esas in the area of management.

Apart from his exploits on the field, the 38-year-old Cooper who originally hails from Point Cumana, speaks fluently in English, Spanish, Portuguese and Dutch, having played professionally in more than five countries around the world, including Brazil, where he played for Club Athletico Penapolence (CAP) in the State League: Lecce Palmeiras and Gafanfa de Nazare in the Portuguese Second Division: Transvaal FC, Walking Boys Company (WBC) and West United in the Suriname Football League, Sandals Grenades in the Antiguan Football League, and of course for the T&T Under-17, U-20 and U-23 teams. Though he earned a call to train with the TT senior teams, Cooper failed to command a place on the senior team, a let-down he believes will stay with him for the rest of his life.

still, he told Guardian Media Sports he will not turn his back on his country. "I want to be the one to provide a difference in football opportunities. Not just send players on contracts or trials abroad for a fee, but ensure that players are properly managed and taken care of and that they achieve their potential. Had I had that when I was sent abroad at the age of 17 years, I would have been much further than I am right now."

Cooper who also played professionally in the T&T Pro League for Joe Public Football Club, North East Stars, Tobago United, Ma Pau and Point Fortin Civic Centre, has also functioned as an intermediary for players moving from international clubs to teams he has played with, by being a translator and negotiator.

Cooper painted a bleak picture of his experience moving from club to club as a young player, which was due mainly to a popular agent, whom he now believes was only interested in the money he could have received. "With me, it will not be like that. Money is not all, so I want to provide opportunities for young players. I want to give the young players a chance to make something of themselves, the money will come afterwards, but it's about helping."

To date, Cooper has already been instrumental in securing lucrative deals for two of Jamaica's young talents and with TT national senior team coach Terry Fenwick on the search for more talent, he may find Cooper useful, with the FIFA World Cup qualifiers right around the corner.

Cooper will first target the Secondary Schools Football League (SSFL) where, from humble beginnings, he was allowed to showcase himself, moving from Point Cumana Government Primary School to Mucurapo Junior Secondary, and later to the West Mooring 'Tigers', before his international exploits.