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2023/24 St. Benedict's U-14s
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ST Benedict’s College under-14 football team were crowned champions of the Lascaris Barbados U-15 Cup on April 5. The Trinidad and Tobago team defeated Eden Stars of Jamaica 1-0.

It was St Benedict's first time participating in the tournament.

St Benedict's coach Sean Eastman said, “It was the first time actually reaching there (Barbados). We had everything prepared (in 2020) but covid came and destroyed everything.”

The trip took heavy planning and a committee comprised mostly of parents took that responsibility.

The Office of the Prime Minister Sports and Culture Fund helped fund the trip.

Parent Crystal Chan, one of the committee members, said, “The process generally takes three months, however, there’s a check-list of items you need to provide to the ministry. There was a lot of back and forth trying to satisfy the requirements and eventually it took us two months to get it all done.”

And while some private sponsors came on board, the funding accessed covered three-quarters of all the expenses: airfare, accommodation, ground transport, catering, uniforms and equipment.

Going into the tournament, the players thought it would be a breeze.

Eastman said, “They realised really quickly that it was not (easy). They were all capable teams; even though it wasn’t overly challenging, it was still good competition.”

Eastman appreciated the way the St Benedict's contingent were treated in Barbados.

“Accommodation at Time Out Hotel; the staff was quite hospitable and really friendly. We even got more time at the pool when we won the tournament. Even when we checked out, they gave us three rooms to co-ordinate ourselves.”

In recent years, the school has changed its football programme, a move which has seen them win multiple titles in the secondary school’s football league at various levels.

“We are trying to make the programme a little more dynamic and lengthy outside of the school period. Football in Trinidad is now a year-round thing, so with that we had to make changes – having tours during the holiday periods.”

St Benedict's player Michaei Esdelle said, “It was an eye-opening experience, seeing how differently regional teams play and facing different adversities on the pitch. The experience of Barbados was also exciting – the culture, the dialect was unique, and it was just refreshing.”

With this win and the positive experiences of Barbados, both the footballers, parent and staff were pleased.

Chan said, “This was a priceless experience. At 14, seeing what football looks like regionally and with the boys thinking the challenge would be easy, they learned valuable life lessons to never judge a book by its cover. This experience wasn’t just about the football. It was able to bring the boys closer and give them a greater appreciation for each other.”


SOURCE: T&T Newsday

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