Sat, Feb

Football coaches Joe Bartlinski and Bill Elliot from the University of West Florida (UWF) in Pensacola, USA, are visiting Trinidad and Tobago, hoping to offer soccer scholarships to talented male and female players.

Both coaches are on their second visit to this country, but unlike the first occasion they came with a list of the players at whom they want to have a closer look.

Bartlinski is coach of the UWF women’s soccer team which already has two T&T national female players in Tricia Cooper and Tobagonian Mauricia Nicholson. He is no stranger to T&T’s female football talent, having coached Dawn Marie Alfred, Keisha Prescott and Teleshia Joseph during his stint as head coach of Brevard College in North Carolina.

Bartlinski won two national titles during his 13 years at Brevard and, Keisha Prescott and Tricia Cooper, who were with in that team at the team shared in the glory.

He’s particularly interested in national under-19 and senior team speedster Ahkeela “Darcell” Mollon whom he has been monitoring since the CONCACAF Under-19 Championships.

“I think that Darcell will be a great asset to our programme. She has good touches, dribbling skills and her speed is exceptional.

“I would like to see her work ethic now because we are looking for an all round player,” said Bartlinski, who is into his second season as head coach of UWF.

Bartlinski is also taking a close look at Malick Senior Comprehensive striker Alania Burgin whom he saw in tapes of the CFU Gold Cup qualifying tournament in T&T’s matches against Dominica and Suriname.

“Burgin is a finisher and her passion for the game reminds me of Keisha Prescott. She is definitely a player we are looking at for the future,” added Bartlinski.

Men’s coach Bill Elliot is entering his ninth season with UWF. He has coached against teams who had T&T players like the late Mickey Trotman, Glen Benjamin, goalkeeper Rayshun Mars and Marlon Grant. He recruited former Malick Senior Comprehensive defender Okang Nkosi last season. “I am very impressed with the T&T players that I have seen in the past and I have heard and followed the progress of quite a few others,” said Elliot.

Among the players Elliot has expressed an interest in are St Anthony’s goalkeeper Jan Michael Williams and Julius James, Joe Public’s Jeremy Delpino and Caledonia AIA’s striker Ellis Dyette.

“I have also heard from Mauricia Nicholson about Kerron Phillips and Michael Carrington, so in the next couple days I will be kept busy checking out these players, he said.

Both coaches stressed the importance of good academic work to compliment the players’ athletic abilities. They leave Trinidad this weekend.