Central F.C. Managing Director, Brent Sancho today announced that The Sharks have invited English League 1 club, Walsall F.C. to tour Trinidad & Tobago as part of their pre season preparation.
Central F.C. will play Walsall on the 9th July at Ato Boldon Stadium, but prior to that Walsall will spend 4 nights in Tobago where they will play two games including a match vs a Pro League XI.
“The visit of Walsall has been magnificently supported by TT Pro League CEO, Dexter Skeene” said Sancho. “As soon as we mentioned the possibility of a visit by a British club, Dexter was really supportive. I believe he joins us in seeing this as a great opportunity to test the current level of Pro League football and to give some of our youngsters a chance to put themselves in the market place overseas.”
The Sharks are yet to release a complete itinerary as they are still negotiating with sponsors. However, Sancho did confirm that Central F.C. have been liaising with TTFA Technical Director, Anton Corneal for Walsall’s head Coach, Dean Smith and his staff to host a coaches seminar, as well as a coaching clinic for youths.
“It’s important that we gain as much as possible from the visit of Walsall” said Sancho. “We hope that players and coaches will benefit from an exchange of ideas with the Walsall staff in all areas including physiotherapy, nutrition and pre match preparation.”
Sancho said that the Central F.C. staff will have full access to the Walsall camp. “Dean Smith is a good friend of our Operations Director, Kevin Harrison. As such, Dean has agreed to allow our staff to attend all training sessions and we will be loaning 5 of our young players to Walsall for the whole week. This type of experience is unimaginable for our young players and we are certain that it will only increase their level of professionalism as well as their desire to play overseas.”
Walsall will be bringing a party of 28, including 20 players. In the past decade, famous names such as Paul Merton, Roger Boli, Anthony Gerrard (brother of Liverpools’ Steven Gerrard), T&T's former striker Hector Sam and T&T national goalkeeper Clayton Ince all wore the Walsall jersey. Ince played 152 games for Walsall and his performances earned him a place in the 2006-07 League 2 team of the year and in 2008-9 he was nominated as Walsall’s player of the season.
“Walsall were unfortunate to miss out on the play offs last season, but I’m convinced they will be in or around the promotion spots at the end of this season” said Sancho. “Dean Smith is an up and coming manager who was awarded League 1 Manager of the Month in January. I know Terry Fenwick is licking his lips in anticipation of taking an English League 1 scalp, so it will be a great contest!”
Sancho said that The Sharks are still looking for sponsors for some aspects of the tour. “We’ve covered most of the costs of bringing over Walsall, but we now want to make sure their visit is unforgettable. We intend to invite teams from Europe every year to play for a Central F.C. trophy. The name of the trophy will be chosen by the sponsor. We feel this can only raise the awareness overseas of the TT Pro League and give a boost to our sports tourism industry”
Final details of the Walsall itinerary will be released next week.