There is little doubt that, the T&T Under-20 team was always going to find it difficult to qualify for the World Cup finals next year, in particular being drawn in the same group as the United States was also challenging.
And while, we can rightfully criticise the T&T Football Association (TTFA) for lack of ensuring proper preparation of the team, through the lack of practice matches, a camp, or just the overall time spend together on the training field, I want to openly suggest to the people of T&T, that I lay the blame firmly at the feet of the Super League.
It was the very same – Super League – that pump their collective oversized chests, that refused the Under-20 team’s participation in the Super League because they did not pay a certain fee to register.
At the time, I recall remarking how ridiculous it was and now I add again, how insensitive, it was for the then hierarchy of the Super League to adopt this totally disadvantageous decision against a national team (the Under the 20s). This is a national team that needed the help from all quarters, not just the TTFA but its stakeholders, and the Super League by refusing the team a place in its league, have in my opinion, not placed – The Country first, but instead put ego first.
And that is the major problem affecting Sports administration in T&T because we have officials that cannot see further than they can throw a stone. And instead of thinking about the country, there is to much self-centred focus.
Can you imagine what would be the case if our Under-20 players had gotten the opportunity to compete in the Super League? The situation would have been the experience gained would have greatly enhanced the overall skill and mental level of the team and ensured that when they played against their peers at the international level the team and by extension, each player would have been better prepared.
I know that officials from the TTFA would have been upset, even if they did not say so, I can imagine the pain in the minds of two men who have made major sacrifices for T&T over the years - Anton Corneal (Technical Director) and Russell Lataphy (Under-20 coach) both of whom are owed monies by the TTFA for work done, but to their credit both individuals have largely ignored that impediment, and gave their all to look after football on the field. I cannot say the same about the Super League decision makers or maker, based on the evidence in front of us and the pain in the hearts of our youths.
There are many that believe that making a lot of noise guarantees attention, and them gaining their way at the expense of others, but little do they realise, that the legacy they leave behind them, will not ever go away and as they seek to promote themselves and destroy others, they only help to confirm the general feeling, that they could care less about anything that does not promote their name, game or agenda. Sadly there are too many persons like what exists in the Super League in sports in T&T, and football it would appear has fallen prey to this as well, based on the neglect that prevails.
So whether it is the Under-20 football team on this occasion, or our Under-15 team in cricket, or our youth teams in tennis and basketball, there is so much disenchantment, that it is easy to understand why parents will decide to shift the emphasis to another sport or just keep the focus on their son or daughter’s education, in light of the treatment.
Therefore, it is with a very heavy heart, that I call on the Super League to officially apologise to the people of T&T for their faulty decision to not allow our national youth team the preparation that was needed in an effort to put T&T on the global football map yet again.
As I watched the youngsters, fight as best they can and not give in or give up despite all the odds being stacked against them, it gave me the pride to know that there are still young persons who are not interested in crime and doing ill will to our society, but rather determined to make themselves, their family and friends and by extension T&T proud. T&T is very proud of each player on the National Under-20 team.