While there continues to be ongoing debate over the status of National Under 17 players in the Secondary Schools Football League, midfielder Sean De Silva has confessed that he and his teammates would have preferred to remain together as a national team but they shall now make the best of the situation and enjoy the 2006 season with their various schools.
One thing on their minds though is the possibility of injury as neither of them wishes to miss the chance of playing in next April’s CONCACAF Final qualifying round towards the Korea 2007 FIFA Under 17 World Championship. And while there may be the easy feeling that the tournament is seven months away, even the some weeks on the sidelines could be detrimental to the player’s readiness.
Following the end of the recent CFU Under 16 Youth Cup in which T&T finished second in the Caribbean, SSFL officials stated through the media that they would not allow national players to sit out the season on the request of National Under 16 team coach Anton Corneal in order to undergo full uninterrupted preparations. But with the League into its second season, the players are all representing their teams and De Silva says while they are happy to be “playing ball” they also realized that a chance to get a national team as best ready is not so possible anymore.
“Obviously by not playing in the Colleges League meant that the team would have been training more and we would have had more time to work towards a goal whether it be getting bigger, stronger as individuals and technically as a team as was the initial goal of the coach,” De Silva told TTFF Media on the weekend.
“I think all of the players would not have mind having to sit out the League because they knew it would be better for them and better for the country. No one really had a problem not playing Colleges league this year even though everyone is happy that they can go and play in the league now and the college coaches are obviously happy,” he added.
And as continues to be a plague among local youngsters, the chance of becoming a big attraction and becoming complacent during the competition remains a possibility, even though De Silva believes Corneal would be able to get the players back on the ground at the end of the season. And what about missing out on overseas College moves as was a fear expressed locally? Well De Silva is well aware that playing for a national team presents a better opportunity for scouting and scholarship gains.
“It was a worry how it would end up for us if any of the boys would peak in time for the tournament next year seeing that we are not together for the full amount of time. The national coaches wanted to go on special programmes because the level at CONCACAF is much higher than in the Colleges League. Coach Anton wanted us better prepared and involved in strength programmes and playing foreign matches and hopefully we can still get this done over a good time later in the year.
“Mentally I think most of our players have our heads on, I don’t think doing well in the League will get to our heads. Personally I know coach Anton will have them back down to earth. They will know it’s not about them being a player but rather the team.
“The coach assessed all of us after the tournament and we know what we have to work on. My biggest factor is size obviously and we all know our weak areas. But with time I think I will definitely benefit from working with the coach and his assistants before the tournament,” the promising St Mary’s College midfielder ended.
The TTFF and SSFL is expected to meet on the matter next week as decisions on the best format for the preparation of the Under 17 players are set to be discussed. The TTFF maintains that it does not intend to create any further conflict on the matter.