Yugoslav-born coach Zoran Vranes has bought into the new business plan of T&T Pro League champions North East Stars, which involves the development and foreign transfers of players, by committing his services to the Pro League champions on an initial one-year agreement, pending a work permit.
And one month back on the Caribbean-island he considers his second home. The former T&T national team coach is calling on all stakeholders to do their part towards improving the quality of football in the country.
“Football in T&T is down very much,” said the 67-year-old Serbian, who coached the T&T Under-20 men’s World Cup. It was better in the past and I am not fully aware what the problems are now. It’s time all [stakeholders] must step up to do something more serious about the quality of the football. I can make my contribution but it is not up to the coaches only. Together we can all improve the opportunity for the players, the local teams and the national teams.”
Michael Awai, new Director of Football at North East Stars, said the club which is now run by the majority shareholder, Ryan Nunes, has adopted the business strategy to develop players with the intention of transfers across Europe, Asia and Central America.
“Others should want to follow our business model,” said Awai.
“We will have academies from the 4-5 age group and upwards at various locations. Our business model is not to win the Pro League. We prefer to prepare players to send them abroad and make money from that. We have budgeted it will cost TT$1.5 million to TT$2m to run a club competitively, so it’s better to invest in more players from a development perspective.”
W Connection, the most successful club in the Pro League era, can argue that success on and off the field can be achieved simultaneously with their trophy cabinet stacked to capacity and having the most transfers to foreign clubs in the league’s history.
On why he opted to join North East Stars, Vranes, a former Joe Public coach said, “I am satisfied with the plan of North East Stars. This season we are focused on developing young players, not to win the competition this year and maybe not next year, after that, yes, but more than that to make business in Europe and Asia.
“It should not only be the plan of my club. We all need to get football back where it used to be especially with the younger players. They must also want to work harder to improve their fitness and technical ability.”
Vranes had three stints with the T&T senior team, twice as a head coach and once as an assistant coach, and also coached the Soca Warriors at Under-20 and Under-23 levels.
He enjoyed title success with Central FC, leading the “Couva Sharks” to the First Citizens Cup and the Akeem Adams and Rawle Fletcher trophies in the 2014/15 season.
However, he was surprisingly replaced with Englishman Terry Fenwick with just three league games left that term and the team at the top of the Pro League standings. Fenwick celebrated the title success and later the 2015 Caribbean Club Championship.
Vranes returned to Yugoslavia for his third managerial stint with hometown club Rudar Pljevlja, until now.
Goalkeepers Glenroy Samuel and Javon Sample, who played under Vranes at national youth level and Central respectively, will represent Stars along with veteran playmaker Hayden Tinto, Adrian Noel, Sean Bateau and Bret D’Abreau, who will hit his fortieth birthday on June 6.
North East Stars will face W Connection on June 1 in the 2018 Pro League curtain-raising Charity Shield from 7 pm at the Ato Boldon Stadium.
North East Stars 2018 squad: Glenroy Samuel (GK), Javon Sample (GK), Jabari Brice, Sean Bateau, Garyk Jaggan, Darren Jaggan, Bret D’Abreau, Josiah Daniel, Kyle Bartholomew, Hayden Tinto, Jabari Brathwaite, Adrian Noel, Darren Wilson, Tyrell Jobe, Jamiel Williams, Shawn Roberts, Daniel Lacroix, Warren Chase, Jeankeon Alexander, Brian Williams, Shaqkeem Joseph and Gabriel Nanton.
Technical staff: Zoran Vranes (coach), Gilbert Bateau (assistant coach/trainer), Nigel Neverson (goalkeeper coach), Michael ‘Coxy’ Williams (equipment manager).