Wed, May

TTFA Vice President Jameson Rogues (left) and Fifa Football for Schools manager Antonio Buenano Sanchez (right).

After three days of coaching workshops and practical activities involving primary school students at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, Mucurapo and Larry Gomes Stadium, Malabar, the T&T Football Association (TTFA) launched the Fifa Football for Schools programme at the Malabar venue on Tuesday.

Geared toward introducing the game to young boys and girls in otherwise untapped rural communities and schools, the Football for Schools programme is expected to kickstart on May 13 in primary schools across Trinidad. Over 40 coaches will be involved in the programme, with 56 Trinidad schools being invited to participate in the project, to go along with eight Tobago schools.

Fifa Football for Schools manager Antonio Buenano Sanchez will oversee the programme, and he guided the coaches through their paces on Tuesday as they conducted varying drills with eager students.

Approximately 40 students went through different drills and played friendly scrimmages, with schools such as Arima Presbyterian, Avocat Vedic School, Bonne Aventure Presbyterian, Carapichaima RC and Tunapuna Government Primary School being represented. Roughly 20 coaches guided the players through the sessions, with youth coaches such as Sharaz Ali and Cedric Hazelwood among those giving their instructions from the sidelines. Former national players Kern Cupid, Dexter Cyrus and Afiya Matthias were also involved in the coaching sessions.

Rajesh Latchoo, head of coach education and the TTFA’s director of youth football, said the aim of the programme is to grow the game at the grassroots level, which can lead to the unearthing of hidden gems.

Starting with the two-month long Football for Schools programme, Latchoo said the goal is to have children from four to 14 playing the game on a consistent basis for a seven-month period. Latchoo said due to the primary school syllabus and the timing of the launch, the first cycle of the programme targeted children who completed their Secondary Entrance Assessment (SEA) exams this year.

Latchoo is also one of the project leads on the national steering group, which includes members of the TTFA, the Ministry of Education, Sport Company of T&T (SporTT), Ministry of Sports and Community Development and the National Primary School League.

“As members, our job was to bring football to communities that may not have had football, or schools that may not have had football. It’s about growing the game and teaching the kids technical skills and life skills,” Latchoo said.

“The programme is heavy on life skills and we use football as the vessel to introduce or reinforce that because the Ministry also has value, as well as the TTFA, in what will be enforced in the schools.”

Latchoo said the programme will help feed into the TTFA’s high performance programme, and he believes the momentum will be taken into the Generation Amazing programme and the Primary Schools league.

Earmarked for the July-August period, Latchoo said the Generation Amazing programme will be similar to the Football for Schools programme, but will be geared specifically for communities.

Latchoo said the programmes will aid coach education and “benefit all different departments of the TTFA.”

“There’s an app Fifa has (Football for Schools) which allows the coaches access to the different types of sessions. The TTFA will help govern the syllabus and then the app will help them get content.

“This will give us an opportunity to see some of our young coaches who would have just recently completed their C club licence.”

The confirmed listing of schools in the Fifa Football for Schools programme will be finalised on Friday.

SOURCE: T&T Newsday

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