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STILL GOT IT: Russell Latapy, otherwise known as the “Little Magician” manipulates the ball while explaining fundamentals of the game for the young players of the Queen’s Park Cricket Club. The former Soca Warriors captain partnered with ex-national custodian Clayton Ince and ex-Liverpool player Stan Collymore in the Flow Legends Outreach Programme Football Clinic at the St Mary’s Grounds, Serpentine Road, yesterday. —Photo: Stephen Doobay
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Long-time local football legend Russell Latapy was the feature attraction at the St Mary’s Grounds, St Clair, yesterday, as the Flow Legends Community Outreach Programme continued their mandate to give back to the children through football.

The company hosted yet another football clinic in the buildup to the British Airways Legends Tobago Football Challenge, after having former English football stars tour several primary schools in Tobago. Fabrice Muamba formerly of Bolton Wanderers, and Rachel Yankey ex-Arsenal Ladies player, were also in Trinidad and Tobago to conduct clinics. Yankey paid the St Augustine Girls’ team a special visit a month ago.

Yesterday, feature the “Little Magician”, Clayton Ince, as well as ex-Liverpool player Stan Collymore. They were all on hand to run separate drills with the children, who were all members of the Queen’s Park Cricket Club’s (QPCC) football youth development programme.

Deryck Murray, who played in 62 Test matches for the West Indies said that the QPCC are making a concerted attempt to mirror their efforts in cricket, in football. He said that with a 125-year pedigree of fostering cricket legends, it was time to expand their influence to football.

The “Little Magician” was enthusiastic about what Outreach Programme was doing. “It’s playgrounds like this where we all started,” he told the Express. “I think it’s a fantastic initiative, whatever is being provided to help the improvement of the young football players is always welcome as a good initiative.”

The clinic itself was a success, despite being cut short by fading light. The youngsters were drilled in many facets of the game, including shooting, passing, close control, goal keeping and even a small scrimmage near the end.

Latapy, Ince and Collymore will all be at the Legends Challenge this weekend. Stern John, the all-time top scorer for the Soca Warriors, will also be in Tobago but did not attend the clinic.

All 64 legends will arrive in Tobago and visit the communities for extended clinics. The legends will be playing for Arsenal, Aston Villa, Manchester United, Liverpool, Chelsea, Tottenham and there will be a team of Caribbean All Stars and Professional Footballers Associations (PFA) All Stars.The BA Legends will conclude in a six-a-side tournament which will take place at the Dwight Yorke Stadium on Saturday and Sunday.

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Latapy, Ince inspire QPCC Academy footballers
By ASHFORD JACKMAN (NEWSDAY).

MOST, IF not all the youngsters who participated in the FLOW Legends Community Legacy Outreach exercise yesterday afternoon may never have seen Russell Latapy play for Trinidad and Tobago, but the experience probably inspired most to strive harder to succeed at the Beautiful Game

.For just over an hour, the fortunate aspiring youths, all members of the Queen’s Park Football Academy, worked on their skills with the ball under instruction from Latapy, ex-Liverpool striker Stan Collymore and former TT goalie Clayton Ince on the St Mary’s College ground in St Clair.

The event was made possible by Columbus Communications’ Business Solutions arm, resulting from a partnership with the QPCC Academy that is now into its second year.

“At various points in our history,” said Queen’s Park president Deryck Murray, “we have dabbled in football.” Now, he added, the academy represented a more organised approach to the development of the game at a club that is synonymous with cricket.

Approximately 105 youngsters, ranging between the ages of six to 15, took part, all fully dressed in the familiar light blue of the world famous club, and spread out in age groupings at various points of the sprawling Saints playing field.

Latapy, the former national captain and much-travelled midfield genius worked first with the most senior group, while Collymore took the 9-10 boys through their paces, and Ince conducted drills with half-a-dozen aspiring goalkeepers; other coaches from the academy ensured no group was inactive at any time.

Earlier, Latapy drew a link between his early years and the groups of beginners eagerly awaiting their instructions.

“We reminisce on when we were at this age,” he said. The “Little Master,” who turns 47 later this year, added, “We’re proud to be part of the start of the journey for some of these kids.” It was just over two weeks ago that Latapy won the Scottish Cup as assistant coach at Inverness Caledonian Thistle.

Asked whether there was any possibility of returning to coach the national team one day, he was cautious in his reply.

“Nothing is impossible,” he told reporters. “But there’s been a lot of turmoil in football... there would have to be a lot of organisation and clarity before anything could be considered.”

Latapy left last night for the sister isle and the two-day Tobago Football Legends Challenge, to be played at the Dwight Yorke Stadium in Bacolet this weekend.