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Photo: Trinidad and Tobago National Under-15 Team poses at the 2017 CONCACAF Championships. (Back row, left to right) Darian Bradshaw, Justin Araujo-Wilson, Adriel George, Jean-Heim Mc Fee, Marc Wharfe, Cephas St Rose. (Front row, left to right) Randy Antoine, Josiah Edwards, Jaiye Sheppard, Jabari Lee and Kernel La Fon.
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THE TRINIDAD and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) has initiated steps to enter the National Men’s Under-17 Team into the TT Pro League’s Under-18 Division.

The intention, recommended by coach, Russell Latapy, and supported by the TTFA’s technical director, Anton Corneal, is to afford the current squad of players the opportunity to be actively involved in competition as it continues its preparations for forthcoming CONCACAF qualification tournaments.

The TTFA wishes to state that it had initiated dialogue with the management of the TT Pro League. TTFA general secretary, Justin Latapy-George, gave the assurance on Friday that the National Under-17 team, once permitted by the Pro League, will appear in the competition as a National Team and not compete under the title of any other team. Additionally, the general secretary noted there had been some disquiet among our stakeholders based on this matter so he needed to clearly state the position of the TTFA.

“What we have done is to further actions related to our discourse by writing to the league requesting its consideration to allow the association’s national Under-17 team to compete in the Under-18 Division of the Pro League. We believe that we have submitted a request that will receive favourable consideration. However, irrespective of the final decision of the league it is important that I extend thanks for their consideration. It is pivotal that I again note that if our application is accepted that the team will compete as the national Under-17 team ,” Latapy-George stated.

Both Latapy-George and Corneal stated that it was evident that this type of approach proved to be successful in the past, making reference to the Under- 20 team of 2008, participating in and winning the National Super League that year before going on to qualify for the 2009 FIFA Under-20 World Cup in Egypt.

Corneal reiterated the importance of having the Under-17 and Under-20 men’s team in active competition prior to their respective qualifying tournaments later this year.

“We feel this is the best way to go in terms of trying to ensure that the teams are in active competition over a specific period which falls in line with their preparations prior to the Concacaf qualifying matches,” Corneal said. “We have seen what doing this in the past has done, case in point the 2009 team that went on to qualify for the U-20 World Cup and coupled with the international matches that the FA may be able to organise along the way, this could only positively assist us in preparing the teams going into the qualifiers,” Corneal added.

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TTFA reverses position, vows to compete as “National Under-17 Team” in Youth Pro League.
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The Trinidad and Tobago National Under-17 Team, once permitted, will participate in the Youth Pro League Under-18 competition under its own name, after condemnation of its initial attempt to play as Morvant Caledonia United.

On Tuesday, National Under-17 assistant coach Duane Richardson and manager Aaron Pollard went to various schools and urged players to sign registration forms for Morvant Caledonia—often without the chance to discuss the matter with their parents and club coaches first.

The TTFA Media said the initiative was recommended by head coach Russell Latapy and supported by technical director Anton Corneal. However, it provoked a furious response from schools, club coaches and parents.

Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) general secretary Justin Latapy-George assured members of the public that, while the football body is still interested in participating in the youth competition, there is no chance that the national team will play as a club.

“What we have done is [write] to the League requesting its consideration to allow the Association’s National Under-17 Team to compete in the Under-18 Division of the Pro League,” Latapy-George told TTFA Media. “We believe that we have submitted a request that will receive favourable consideration. However, irrespective of the final decision of the League, it is important that I extend thanks for their consideration.

“It is pivotal that I again note that if our application is accepted that the team will compete as the National Under-17 Team.”

Corneal was on the coaching staff on the two occasions whenat Trinidad and Tobago qualified for World Cup Finals, first the Under-17’s in the Republic of Korea in 2007 and then the Under-20’s in Egypt in 2009.  And he is certain that their participation in the youth league will work well for them.

“We feel this is the best way to go in terms of trying to ensure that the teams are in active competition over a specific period, which falls in line with their preparations prior to the Concacaf qualifying matches,” said Corneal. “We have seen what doing this in the past has done—case in point, the 2009 team that went on to qualify for the U-20 World Cup.

“And coupled with the international matches that the FA may be able to organise along the way, this could only positively assist us in preparing the teams going into the qualifiers.”

In other news, the Trinidad and Tobago Women’s National Team has scheduled two friendly matches against Panama on Thursday 22 and Saturday 24 March.

The Women Soca Warriors face Panama from 6.30pm on Thursday at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva and from 4pm on Saturday at the Mannie Ramjohn Stadium in Marabella.