Wed, Aug


What's the best goal you've seen recently?

I really, really liked that back-to-the-goal Dimitar Berbatov volley for Man United against Sunderland. And ah have to admit that Andrei Arshavin, the Arsenal "Gunner", showed again he could kick no tail with his goal against Blackburn. Cesc Fabregas was all technique too with his conversion in that same Premier League game.

But I've also been paying attention to some of the football in the FIFA Under-20 Championship over in Egypt.

Had to admire the way Marto somebody for Hungary and Vladimir Koman took their goals in the round-of-16 game against Czech Republic. Precision and power, boy.

The South Korea-Ghana game and Italy/Hungary also made me pay attention. Is not only how the goals were taken but how they were made too, the precise crossing in particular. I like a good pass. A long ball or one in from the flanks could be a beautiful thing, especially if it has fizz and swerve the way John Barnes and Glenn Hoddle used to deliver them in their heyday.

I wasn't expecting to see that kinda quality at Manny Ramjohn Stadium last weekend. But I went with an open mind and notepad.

Between St Benedict's College, Siparia Secondary, Naparima College and Princes Town Secondary, I got 12 goals, including an own goal that sailed in off a defender, over the Benedict's keeper and a sixth Benedict's strike that came from a dropped cross by the Siparia custodian.

Siparia and P/Town are not having good times this season in the Secondary Schools Football League. So Naps and Benedict's made hay in the kind of space a herd of cows would have happily grazed in.

Reading the papers must not be something the P/Town and Siparia boys look forward to doing these days.

I make my notes, look up and see a fellow in the stands. Now Leonson Lewis must have loved to read the papers in his time in school. When he was wearing Naps blue-like he is today-and Sando Tech yellow and blue, he was in print all the time. Not to mention when he graduated to Strike Squad colours and then went to play in Portugal.

I like wingers. And I enjoyed watching Leo play.

He coaches the Naps and W Connection under-14s and under-16s these days.

But things just not what they used to be.

"Now, you have to teach them all about systems and all about positions and basic knowledge that kids had like when I was younger," he tells me.

"Okay, they put me to play left wing. I already know what a left wing supposed to do; (he) supposed to stay wide, he supposed to come in when the ball on the other side, he supposed to try to score...Yuh know how to get in a wide position, yuh know where yuh want the defender to receive the ball, these things now you have to teach young players."

Leo's hands keep pace with his speech. He's an animated guy. And as the evening progresses and the arms keep pointing out runs that should have been made and the direction shots should have gone to, it's clear I'm talking to a real ball peong.

And is not just passion for the olden days either.

Leo not talking about a generation gap. Is a change of culture.

Especially when he explains: "Even something like not sleeping in the night. Now they have free calls after ten, and you hear from most parents that their kids are not sleeping enough because they always on the phone. So when they go on the field, they can't put out enough because they not rested properly.

"That is something that never affected us when we were smaller because we didn't have anything like cell phones, we didn't have anything like free calls after ten. These things actually affect young players now because they not sleeping in the night. I have a lot of parents telling me about that, both school footballers and club footballers."

Maybe we watching some late-night bmobilers now, the amount ah ball kicking wide, wide with the goal open that going on.

But there were moments of some class, like the spin move in the penalty box from Naps captain Anthony Parris that free him up and allow him to play a one-two with a teammate before he finish off goal No.2. Before him, Benedict's left-winger Paul Kirk showed a nice turn of foot and leave a Siparia man on his backside. The crowd bawl.

"What I think that stops Trinidad football from going forward is not talent, but the understanding of the game," Leo makes the point.

"Every time you see a Trinidad team play, doh matter which team it is, we always get problems in the midfield, we never keeping the ball enough. They doh have a natural ability to...know when to mark space, to know how wide is too wide, what to do, when to switch the ball. Yuh have to have a coach to teach them that."

He right 'bout the ball possession. The Under-20s were not bad. Was impressed with some of the approach play. But the marking space...Is why they home now. And why the "Soca Warriors" on a hat-trick now for collecting four goals in a game.

So how to ditch this non-tactical heritage?

"I think is proper development coaching," he says. "You could put anybody to coach under-13, under-14. Everybody who put on a track suit could be a coach. But as a coach, you have to have a vision of how you want your team to play..."

At least Leo has a long-term view of his old school's future.

"When you see Naparima in the next five years, we should have a great team," he says.

Ah want to see that Leo. Ah really want to see that.