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A CALL for the veteran footballers to be placed in coaching programmes at the primary school level came yesterday at the first Veteran Football Foundation’s Brunch to celebrate 100 years of football in Trinidad and Tobago at the Hyatt-Regency Hotel, Port- of-Spain.
The plea came from former national defender Selris Figaro, midfielder Ian Clauzel and striker Neil “Leathers” Sorzano.

They believe the ex-stars could assist in the development of the sport locally.

Their call was echoed by football icons Keith Reneaud and Ivan Cyrus, who like many others yesterday at the Hyatt-Regency, expressed the view that development of the sport has been neglected.

The former outstanding national footballers who are members of the Veteran Footballers Foundation (VFF) explained that thay can provide youngsters in the primary schools with the basic foundation for playing the game, such as trapping, shooting, heading, chesting and simple ball control.

Their skills can be polished and enhanced at the secondary schools where the young footballers can also be exposed to “structural football” at the same time. This it was said, will avoid having players on national teams without knowing the basics of the game. Members of the VFF also expressed disappointment in having a rich history of football while the sport, they say, “continues to suffer”.

They feel that there is no development taking place and this is evident by the recall of 40-year-old midfielder Russell Latapy and his close friend and colleague Dwight Yorke of Sunderland to the national team.

They have been drafted to help the national team to qualify for the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa.

The veteran players feel that because of the wealth of talent produced over the years, the veterans should be used as a part of “holistic development programme” that should start at the primary school level.

But Clauzel, a coach at Mucurapo Senior Comprehensive School questioned: “How can we celebrate 100 years of football and we do not have a development programme?” Development he said is being done by coaches who have coaching academies and those who are coaching at the schools.

Known in his heyday as the “Dread Dribbler” Clauzel pointed out that the coaches are still not being recognised for the work that they are doing.

“We have been doing all of the ground work,” Clauzel added. “We have been hiring coaches left, right and centre but we have our own culture of football here and we are failing to develop that. We also need continuity in the sport, so that we will not have one team playing one system and another team playing a different one,” he said.

Another veteran football Rawle Aimey described as “rubbish” the views that sports prevent students from academic progress and that sportsmen and women are not intelligent people. “Sportsmen have to be extremely intelligent because they are called on to make spur-of-the-moment decisions,” he said.

Aimey who after his playing days moved on to study at the University of the West Indies and to teach later on, said that sports help in instilling discipline. Figaro, who apart from coaching at “Compre” as Mucurapo is known, presently works in the Unemployment Relief Programme (URP), but he revealed that he wants to coach at the national level.

He feels however that he is not being given a fair chance by those in authority. The sturdy defender who played for Trinidad and Tobago both home and away, takes credit for producing top players including Cornell Glen and Kerry Baptiste.

Yesterday’s function featured performances by Calypsonian Relator and was attended by hundreds of players from yesteryear such as Leon Carpette, Carlton Franco, Robbie Greenidge, Desmond ”Baby” Headley, Leroy De Leon, Leonson Lewis, Brian Wiliams, Jimmy Blanc, Frank De Freitas, Everard “Gally” Cummings, Marvin Faustin and Andrew Carty.

No member of the ruling Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation (TTFF) was present but the veterans socialised well into late evening, reminiscing about the golden days of football in TT.