27 Jun 2012
- Written by T&T Express
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Despite Trinidad and Tobago's national youth teams suffering from both a lack of money and international action, T&T Football Federation (TTFF) technical director Anton Corneal is still optimistic about their chances as they head towards World Cup qualifying.
T&T's Under-17 squad will head into qualifying on July 3, when they host a group that includes Suriname, British Virgin Islands and Guyana.
The national Under-20s head to St Vincent and the Grenadines from July 23 to take on the hosts, as well as Suriname and Guyana.
Technical staff for both national youth teams have continued to work in preparing Trinidad and Tobago for competition, despite having not been paid for almost five months.
Corneal was part of a meeting chaired by marketing director Anthony Harford at Queen's Park Oval, Port of Spain earlier this month, which included technical staff from all national football teams. The session was used for open floor discussions and to update them on the current situation regarding outstanding salaries and other expenditures.
The TTFF technical director was sympathetic over the current state of affairs and commended the staff for their commitment despite the Federation's financial difficulties.
"It's a tall order what the members of staff are going through," Corneal told TTFF media officer Shaun Fuentes. "We are asking them to work with all the passion and be the right example for young people, but we don't have the support financially for them at the moment. We have the qualifying series in just under a month and it's really asking a lot of them to continue and be professionals in what they do."
The TTFF, Corneal revealed, are also hoping the Government will step up to assist the national team financially.
"It's just very difficult because we're not talking about the game on the field but what is also happening off it, like meals, camps, trips and exposure. We're talking about our future with players who are 16- and 15-year-olds who will move up to our senior team in a few years' time," Corneal said.
"The meeting was therefore important for us to give all members of staff a very realistic view of where we are, what's planned and to ask them to be a little bit more patient with us as we try to put things in order," he added.
Corneal is pleased with the "progress" he has seen from the youth teams so far since preparations began early this year. But they have missed out on crucial international warm-up matches due to the grim financial situation.
"Ideally we would have loved to have done more with them, maybe by starting the programmes earlier," Corneal said, "and exposing them to international teams, but we had to work with what we had, which was limited resources at the time.
"I have seen past youth teams progress out of the Caribbean zone and then as we get into CONCACAF, the additional exposure begin to comes and hopefully the same will happen here. At the Under-17 level, you don't see much difference between the teams in terms of experience, but what makes the difference is the technical level and the willingness to give the extra mile in terms of effort and commitment."
He said the T&T technical team has seen the "best" Under-17 and Under-20 players, as well as overseas players he hopes will "lift the overall capacity of both teams".
T&T's Under-17s are bidding to compete at the 2013 FIFA Under-17 World Cup in the United Arab Emirates, while the Under-20 World Cup will be held in Turkey next year.
Corneal recently completed another of the TTFF/Dutch Royal Academy "C" License coaching courses at Larry Gomes Stadium in Malabar, held in collaboration with the Sport Company of T&T.
The TTFF also hosted a goalkeeper coaching course at the Malabar stadium earlier this month, conducted by Jefferson George, who participated in the recent FIFA goalkeeper's workshop in Jamaica.
In other news, Harford announced the National Lotteries Control Board's (NLCB) commitment to sponsor the National Youth League.
TSTT/bmobile are also supporting the National Super League and are expected to back the national senior men's football team as well.