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Sat, Jan

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Nicholas Lo­chan, man­ag­er of the North­ern Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion (NFA) Un­der-17 boys foot­ball team which re­turned from their 'US Soc­cer Boy's Win­ter Show­case' tour­na­ment in Tam­pa, Flori­da on De­cem­ber 31, 2019 (Old Years Day) said he was pleased with the ef­forts of play­ers and coach­es and the over­all trip.

Through­out their six-day stay in the USA, the NFA boys won once and were beat­en in their two oth­er match­es, but ac­cord­ing to Lochan, the USA doesn't cut cor­ners, so from an ad­min­is­tra­tive stand-point it was good to see prop­er in­vest­ment (per­son­nel, com­pe­ti­tion, equip­ment, fa­cil­i­ties) in struc­tured youth de­vel­op­ment to im­prove the fu­ture for US foot­ball.

Lochan not­ed that it was an in­tense six days of trav­el­ling, dri­ving and com­pe­ti­tion and a ma­jor eye-open­er for play­ers to gauge their lev­el against top clubs and play­ers in the USA.

In their open­ing match, the NFA boys nar­row­ly lost their first match to Brazil/USA by 2-1, with a de­flect­ed hand­ball giv­en as an un­for­tu­nate penal­ty in the last min­utes of play.

In the sec­ond match on day two, the NFA play­ers re­grouped to beat Kalon­ji Soc­cer Acad­e­my (KSA) out of At­lanta with a thump­ing vic­to­ry 9-3 which was high­light­ed by mid­field play­mak­er Daniel David au­da­cious ef­fort from half-line to beat the un­sus­pect­ing goal­keep­er.

The third game on day three was against Club Ohio Soc­cer and this was ar­guably the best team in this Un­der-18/Un­der-19 age-group with the vis­i­tors end­ing as 4-2 losers.

Over­all, Lochan felt it was a great learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ence for all in­volved in­clud­ing coach­es Paul De­cle, and Mar­lon Phillip.

He said, "The re­sults may not shine bright­ly but that's a very good thing. These con­di­tions and loss­es can't be repli­cat­ed at home and are what helps build char­ac­ter and help the play­ers to con­tin­ue im­prov­ing.

High­light­ing the fact that the team was not one that played to­geth­er at club lev­el, Lochan stat­ed: "The NFA isn't a team so these play­ers learned to live, in­ter­act, adapt and play for each oth­er in a few days, which is sim­i­lar in na­tion­al foot­ball."

"Sec­ond­ly, all play­ers got a taste of elite youth club foot­ball, since this wasn't an in­vi­ta­tion­al tour­na­ment, but one where mer­it and per­for­mance al­lowed par­tic­i­pa­tion un­der the youth arm of the US Soc­cer Fed­er­a­tion; US Youth Soc­cer.

"And third­ly, the guys were seen by US Uni­ver­si­ty scouts who have al­ready de­clared in­ter­est in a few play­ers so hope­ful­ly ed­u­ca­tion op­por­tu­ni­ties will open up.

In ad­di­tion to the match­es, a Uni­ver­si­ty of Tam­pa tour un­der the su­per­vi­sion of for­mer St An­tho­ny's Col­lege and Na­tion­al Youth de­fend­er Mau­rice "Madras" Loreg­nard who is the As­so­ciate Head Coach at the school was al­so done where the team got to see the uni­ver­si­ty and its Bob Mar­tinez Ath­let­ics Cen­ter; a first-class High-Per­for­mance fa­cil­i­ty equipped with class­rooms, in­door courts, Physio and Sport lab and a High-Per­for­mance Gym, where Auburn Foot­ball team was un­der­go­ing a train­ing ses­sion."

"Fourth and per­haps most im­por­tant­ly, the play­ers ex­pe­ri­enced play­ing in a high­ly or­ga­nized for­eign en­vi­ron­ment where cli­mate/tem­per­a­ture, field con­di­tions, ac­com­mo­da­tion and food are dif­fer­ent from the com­fort zone of home.

He stressed, "To make it like a pro, this is the en­vi­ron­ment, and it's all per­for­mance and de­liv­ery based, which means play­ers need to dig deep and be men­tal­ly tough to mo­ti­vate them­selves, adapt, fo­cus and per­form.

Loc­han end­ed "It has been a very hec­tic but re­ward­ing Tour and I hope some of the guys take away the pos­i­tives and ad­just­ments re­quired to suc­ceed.

This month, the NFA will close off this chap­ter, with a ses­sion or two un­der the eyes of the new Un­der-20 and Un­der-17 na­tion­al coach­es.

The team is split with ten po­ten­tial can­di­dates for each team, so hope­ful­ly, apart from a few schol­ar­ships, the NFA could find a few play­ers al­so step­ping un­to the na­tion­al Un­der-20 and Un­der-17 teams.

The play­ers come from our top youth clubs like Trend­set­ter Hawks, Queen's Park Crick­et Club, RSSR, North Coast and Pe­tit Val­ley/Diego Mar­tin Unit­ed.

NFA Un­der-17 play­ers: Ja­cob Castil­lo, Saeed Pom­pey Charles, Em­manuel Thomas, Daniel David, Daniel Lake, Malachi Ce­les­tine, Jude-An­tho­ny John­son, Aaron Moruf, Jor­dan Ro­many, An­drew De Gannes, An­to­nio Chee Ting, De­laney Zamore, Sher­vohnez Hamil­ton, Jahiem Ash­by, Kai­him Thomas, Luke Sav­ery [cap­taint], Ne­gus Jack, Ju­maane Mc­Neil.

Tech­ni­cal staff: Mar­lon Phillip (coach), Paul De­cle (coach) Ker­ry Castil­lo (man­ag­er), Nicholas Lochan (man­agers), Don­nette Mark (med­ical doc­tor).


SOURCE: T&T Guardian