2017 is shaping up to be busy one thus far for DIRECTV W Connection. With almost three weeks gone into the New Year, they have had several players leave on overseas trials, with one already resulting in a short term loan deal, and others set to go out.
Sitting atop the Pro League table with 37 points, the Savonetta Boys are locked in a title race battle with Central FC.
With three regular league games to go, the two teams remain separated by two points with The Sharks having a game in hand. Winning the 2016/17 League Championship title would mean title number 6 for the Central based team and another piece of silverware added to the bulging trophy cabinet
Already, Shackiel Henry has secured his spot on the roster of Song Lam Nghe An of the Vietnam V-League 1 till April and has scored his two goals in three games for SLNA. He was also recently selected into the V-League’s team of the week.
Henry commented that he found going into a new team with a different playing style a bit challenging initially, however his experience being far away from home, doing what he loved the most was a positive once. He also added that “my hope is to become one of the top forwards in this league by working hard and scoring more goals as the games come. It’s a wonderful feeling getting my first two goals, but it would have been better to get the victory…”
Jabari Mitchell, captain of the National U-20 team, joined 2016 Apertura Champions Tigres UANL of the Mexican First Division Liga MX on a ten day trial earlier this month. When interviewed about his experience thus far Mitchell’s comments were quite positive.
“It has been an extremely great nine days in such an atmosphere. The football there is at a very high level and I was thankful to be a part of that. Being there opened my eyes more on how to be a professional, and how much the simple things we sometimes take for granted create a bigger impact on the field. I really hope I can get a contract at that club and continue to grow, and become better in my football. The aim is to reach as far as my potential can take me.”
Triston Hodge, who has been trialing with Costa Rican Primera Division team C.S. Cartaginés where an offer could be in the works for his services stated that his experience has been amazing.
“The players and staff treat me like any other player on the team which makes me feel comfortable in every way possible. This is a great asset for me on my mission. The club is very professional and they play a high level of football, preparing you physically and mentally for the task at hand. I’ll put my best foot forward in achieving the goals they have set for the season which is currently ongoing once I become part of the team.”
When asked about his outlook regarding the upcoming World Cup Qualifying matches Hodge stated that “The upcoming games are a very good chance for us to prove our worth as a small footballing nation. Despite there being some challenges in the coaching department at the moment, I think the players focus should remain the same which is to win those games and try to qualify for the World Cup.”
Aikim Andrews and Jelani Peters prepare to join Toronto FC and Toronto FC II for their pre-season camps at the end of this month. During their 2016 pre-season preparation, Andrews spent two weeks with Toronto’s MLS team and was expected to sign, however due to injury, he returned to Trinidad where he underwent successful shoulder surgery and rehabilitation with hopes that he can seal the deal this year.
The Toronto based team almost made history this year as the first Canadian team to win the MLS Cup Final Championship versus Seattle Sounders FC but lost 5-4 on penalties.
On his upcoming travel, Andrews was optimistic, saying that “ever since I started playing professionally, playing abroad has been my dream. When I got the opportunity to trial the first time I gave it my all. I had a shoulder injury and came home to have surgery to correct it being told that I’ll return when I’m fully recovered. Now I’m 100% and stronger than before, so I’m ready to show the coach and the rest of the staff how much I want to be there and represent the club the best way that I can.”
For Peters, this would be his first overseas trial. He is hoping that he impresses and can get the opportunity to join the team with his sights set on becoming part of the MLS squad.
We interviewed club CEO Ms. Renee John-Williams to get her perspective on the movements, and how it impacted the club especially during a title race.
Ms. Renee John-Williams
Every year we aim to have at minimum two player transfers and over the last few seasons we have done just that. Yes, we lose our best players each year as they go on to play in overseas markets, however, if you speak to our Technical Director he will tell you that we play with who we have and we will win with who we have.
In 2016 we competed in the Caribbean Club Championships and CONCACAF Champions League, and we had to beef up our roster. At the moment we have the biggest roster in the TT Pro League with several players that compete for positions, so there is always coverage no matter who is missing from the squad for whatever reasons, be it National duty, trials, injuries, or overseas deals.
From a business standpoint, player development with a view to engage in transfers be it on loan or permanent sale, is at the moment is one of the more financially viable options local clubs must explore in order to remain sustainable and we have been very successful in doing so. For the last 17 years W Connection Football Club has invested heavily into Trinidad and Tobago Football because we believe that this sport is a viable product and industry.
Our return on investment occurs when our players make their respective National teams at youth and senior levels, or secure international contracts. We have been fortunate to have corporate sponsors such as DIRECTV, and the support of the Government of Trinidad and Tobago and The Sports Company who also believe in the value and contribution that football has to make locally.
We work closely with several clubs and organizations outside the shores of Trinidad and Tobago to ensure that our players are given the best opportunities and get the exposure that can take their careers to the next level.
The Savonetta Boys will face Morvant Caledonia United from 6pm tomorrow evening at the outer field at the Hasely Crawford Stadium.