Anna-Lisa Paul and Bobie-Lee Dixon
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Sean de Silva - Final piece of Central FC’s jigsaw puzzle
“The final piece of the jigsaw.” This was how Central FC head coach Terry Fenwick described the signing of T&T international, Sean de Silva on the transfer deadline day.
In a busy transfer window for the Sharks, Fenwick, has signed an impressive group of T&T senior internationals and one Under-17 and Under-20 international, all from outside of the Pro League.
“It’s all about quality,” said the English coach. “There are a lot of talented Trinis out there, but some people prefer to sign cheaper foreign imports. We have spent a lot of time and energy chasing down those talented local boys who have slipped off the T&T football radar.”
Central’s preparations director, Kevin Harrison said, “We sat down one day and said: ‘What happened to all of our youngsters who played in two World Cups?’” We knew that many of them had moved overseas, but they were no longer impacting on the national teams.”
Harrison said he, Fenwick and managing director, Brent Sancho, devised a project to bring back T&T players to the Pro League.
“Of course, money was an issue,” said Sancho. “We don’t have a huge budget so we can’t compete with salaries paid in the MLS. But we explained to players that sometimes you need to step sideways to move forward.”
“Brent showed these guys that a move back to the Pro League would allow national coach Stephen Hart, a chance to see players on a regular basis,” said Harrison.
“Videos are ok, but a coach wants to familiarise himself with all aspects of a players game. Crucially, the cameras follow the ball, while the coach wants to see what the player is doing when he’s not in possession. Players will usually touch the ball for less than 60 seconds in a game and this will be covered by the cameras. A coach wants to see what the player does for the other 89 minutes.”
De Silva, 24, is a product of the Dion La Foucade Soccer Academy and represented St Ann’s Rangers at youth level. De Silva made two appearances for the national Under-17 team before he moved to the USA to attend Charleston College, where he played for the Cougars. The midfielder then represented T&T at Under-20 and Under-23 levels, as well as playing twice for the senior team.
After finishing college, de Silva joined NASL club, Minnesota United. “I felt this was the right time for me to come back home and make my Pro League debut,” said de Silva. “I’m focused on gaining more national appearances and I need to remind coach Hart of what I can bring to the table.”
De Silva added that he was excited by the quality of players in the squad and is looking forward to teaming up with Leston Paul.
“Leston is a superb player. I’d like to think that he and I could build a partnership that can carry over to the national team. We are both young enough for the next two World Cup campaigns and I know that coach Hart is looking ahead to Russia 2018 and Dubai 2022.”
Fenwick, meanwhile, is positively aglow.
“This is an amazingly talented group of players that we have assembled. Everywhere I look is quality, and now my selection problems will all be good ones!” The former Tottenham and England defender feels that more clubs should follow the Central FC lead. “We don’t receive government funding, yet we’re aggressively recruiting T&T players of international standard to assist the national team. Every other team receives taxpayer’s dollars, yet they don’t carry out anything like the number of community projects that we do. And how many teams can boast that they regularly field a team totally comprised of local players? The stronger the national team becomes, the stronger our league will become.”
“I’d love to bring in some decent foreign players, but they have to offer more than we can get from locals.”
De Silva will be hoping to make his Pro League debut against Police FC on Saturday. The Sharks increased their unbeaten run to four games with a hard fought 0-0 draw at Mahaica Oval against Point Fortin Civic. “Point Fortin at Mahaica Oval is the only true away game in the league, so a point won there is a good result,” said Fenwick on the fixture.