Trinidad and Tobago Football Association launches the Great Reset

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TTFA Technical Director Anton Corneal –

The Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) has pressed the youth football reset button.

After almost three years of inactivity due to the pandemic, the TTFA is beginning its rebuilding phase with screening sessions for boys under 14 and girls under 15.

These trials take place in Trinidad and Tobago and begin with the girls at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva on Saturday from 8am.

Over the next few weeks, local coaches and TTFA officials will observe, assess and evaluate these potential players and select outstanding athletes for selection to their high performance teams.

TTFA technical director Anton Corneal says covid19 has put a damper on the development of homegrown players and the association intends to bounce back with a long-term goal of improving existing talent and discovering new talents.

“I think it’s really hitting the reset button. The programs came to an end with the covid19 restrictions and it was an opportunity for us to restructure football development. Lots of development n hasn’t been done in the past three years.

“Now we need to put new programs in place or review some of the programs we had before and look at areas where we can possibly improve. Some of the results that we’ve seen, it’s pretty clear; it showed that there was no program in some of these tournaments,” he said.

TTFA’s High Performance Program spans a four-year period. Once the selection sessions have been completed with the U14 boys and U15 girls over the next few weeks, the top 40 players will be placed into another specialist program which offers them three to four years of preparation for the U17 national team.

Corneal said the TT U17 coach, four years from now, will have the opportunity to work with players who have been on their high performance program for a long time.

This, he said, will be one of the first steps in bridging the gap between TT and the Caribbean territories which are also progressing.

“FIFA will come and advise us. First we have to show them (FIFA) what is planned and what is happening at the moment. Hopefully we can have better results. We now see where there is a gap (in TT) when it comes to being ready in all aspects of the game.

“There is nothing magic to do, but if we put the different stages in place and we are consistent, have some of the best coaches leading this program, we will see better results in the long term,” he said. he adds.

Corneal confirmed that the TTFA had met with the zonal bodies, first collectively and then individually. They agreed there was a financial challenge to get these programs off the ground, but said the TTFA planned to drive the selection process zonally and, by extension, nationally.

Although optimistic, Corneal and his team approach the program with caution.

“We are in uncharted waters. We don’t have as many teams training, as many academies as we used to, so hopefully most of them will be up and running in the next three to four months,” he said.

The former national striker said he will use coaches and former players who have participated in TTFA-sanctioned programs, especially in the girls/women divisions.

“I was very excited when we had a course (previously) with only women; I think the first of its kind in TT. I can see many of them playing major roles when it comes to scouting young girls and being part of their development.

“We will take advantage of those who are certified in the next two to three months. Those who played for the 2006 World Cup squad, others who were in and around the team. It bodes well to have resourceful people coaching in our academy and youth clubs. Better coaches, better players,” Corneal said.

He claimed that TT must make the return of football a top priority and also understand the importance of development.

Corneal continued: “We can’t wait three weeks to a month before a tournament is in the works. Countries have long-term development plans and we see that in many islands they are now achieving the desired results.

“So all of a sudden St. Kitts and Guyana are competing mostly on the girls’ side, but also on the boys’ side. We have to make sure we keep doing what got us to where we’ve been successful. Success comes through design. We need to get back to it.”

He called on the Ministry of Sports and Community Development, Ministry of Education, Secondary Schools Football League, Primary Schools League, Zones, Academies and TT Company to join us.

“We need to empower people. They need to see the role they have and the bigger plan. I hope we can implement specific programs one at a time. By doing this within 12 months, we should have all of our programs up and running,” Corneal concluded.


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