SENIOR Tobago football coach Terry Williams is encouraging Tobago footballers to get vaccinated, as he lamented the turnout at screening sessions ahead of a national zonal competition. The Tobago Football Association (TFA) has held three screening sessions so far at the Dwight Yorke Stadium, Bacolet.
Williams said, “I think more players should consider their safety and take the vaccine. I was looking forward to at least 40 players at the screening sessions, but looking at the numbers, instead of screening, I have to coach.”
Newsday understands that just 13 players showed up for screening, owing to the requirement by the Ministry of Sport that only vaccinated players, coaches and administrators be permitted to participate in domestic sport.
Williams said, “We will have to coach what we have; the vaccination affected a lot of players who are eligible to play.
But we are still going forward. It is an opportunity for the vaccinated players to work harder and showcase their talent.” Williams does not think the Tobago team will be at a disadvantage in the competition, noting other zones will be facing similar issues.
Each zone has to name 25 players and six officials by February 21. Tobago Football Association (TFA) technical official Harvey Jack will manage the Tobago team.
Jack said, “Our team list should be completed by Friday, following two training sessions during the week, which will include the eight players shortlisted for the national under-20 team, along with other under-20 players who did not make the final cut.”
The national zonal competition is set to kick off on February 27.
Williams, the head coach at 1976 FC, will coach the Tobago team.
Ako George of Speyside FC, will be the assistant coach along with Richard Goddard as goalkeeper coach, and Kurt Jack will be the overall co-ordinator.
“There is still an opening for a physio,” Jack said.
Giving his assessment of the screenings, Jack said, “We were expecting some more of the quality players, but apparently they had some challenges. But the process was smooth.”
One official who wished to remain anonymou lamented the low turnout of players. “When I asked about some of the good players who were not present, I was told they were not vaccinated.
“It was disappointing because football is the most played sport in Tobago, and this is a good opportunity for them.”
Jeremiah Bristol, 20, of Canaan and Adiel George, 19, of Calder Hall were part of the screening sessions.
Both players said they are short on fitness and organised match play, but are willing to work hard in the process. Bristol, a central defender with 1976 FC Phoenix, said, “I am not fit right now, so I do not have any real expectations of being selected on the national team.
“I just happy to be part of the process, and Terry is the coach, so I comfortable.
“He coached me from young, so he knows everything about me.” George, who said he enjoys the central midfield role, is currently unattached.
“He said, “Tobago have way much more players than what I saw in the screening, more players should have been there.”
He said players are not as sharp as they normally would have been.
“The football standard all over the place, players need more time to get back into football.
“My aim is to have a career in football, so I just working hard and hopefully this virus thing will die down and I get an opportunity.” George said.
The national zonal competition is being used as a player identification programme. The intention is to identify players with the potential to represent T&T at the senior and under-20 level levels.
National coach Angus Eve said all six zones in T&T will be involved in the tournament.
SOURCE: T&T Newsday