Sun, Jan


FORMER NATIONAL football team striker and captain Dwight Yorke has called for greater passion to be shown by all parties involved, particularly players, in T&T football.

Yorke made this comment during an interview,on Tuesday evening, at One Woodbrook Place, Woodbrook, where he was part of the launch of a three-year-long partnership between his former club Manchester United and Chivas Regal.

The 47-year-old Yorke, responding to a question about the lack of notable players, over the past five to ten years, at the Secondary Schools Football League (SSFL), said, “We had to work extremely hard as individuals (and) as a team to earn the right to be called a Russell Latapy or a Shaka Hislop. That didn’t come easy.”

He continued, “I haven’t really been involved in Trinidad and Tobago football so it’s very difficult to pass judgement on those circumstances. What I do know is that we haven’t been able to produce. We had a period of time when we had Kenwyne Jones, Stern John, Russell Latapy, Dwight Yorke playing in all these wonderful leagues. What have we got now? That, in itself, sends a clear message that something is not right.

“Whether the structure is right from the colleges league, which used to be a big thing, and then the transition to the national team or Under-20s, they need to look at that. The people who are running the football need to seriously consider that.”

The former Aston Villa, Manchester United, Blackburn Rovers, Birmingham City, Sydney FC and Sunderland player stressed, “You need to show passion in what you’re doing. The passion is no longer there. Where is the love of the game gone? We used to love the game that we play, and then everything else comes with it. Whether it’s the opposite now that people are attracted to other things and not prepared to put the work in, I don’t know.”

From 1989-2009, Yorke made 74 international appearances and netted 19 goals. He also had a brief time as an assistant coach, under Latapy, in 2009.

Asked about his view on the current state of TT football, Yorke, who was dubbed as “The Smiling Assassin” during his playing days, replied, “It’s there for everyone to see. It’s not been a smooth transition, it’s been a very difficult one.

“We’ve got involved with the professional league that hasn’t been worked out the way everyone expected it to work out. You just look at the results that we have provided at the moment, it’s not great. The qualification (at all levels) has been a struggle.”

Yorke called on the stakeholders of local football to “step back, look at things and try to go in a different direction, and try to get the important thing which is the support from the Government and the Ministry of Sport. I think that is very vital.”

He commented, “Of course, with the sponsorship, people always say money is essential but equally, performance brings money. So, there is a combination.”

Yorke said, “Since 2006, maybe the best time in Trinidad and Tobago football, we haven’t been able to relive those moments. Latapy has been able to produce us to a level where we were (close) to qualifying for the (second round) of the Under-20s. The senior team, what we have achieved under Dennis (Lawrence), he’s fighting and trying his hardest, but there is been no major progress.”

Asked if he’s willing to help TT football from an administrative level, Yorke responded, “I’m not really one to say no. If you ask me, the first thing I’ll give you is my opinion. I feel that I’ve earned the right in football. I’ve been out there, seeing what it takes to be top of my profession and I’ve worked now behind the (administrative) side of thing to see what’s going on.”

But he admitted, “The truth is I’ve never been asked.”

Finally, Yorke was asked about his take on the VAR (Video Assistant Referees) system.

“I think VAR is a good thing,” he said. “It (has) its challenges, they haven’t gotten it to perfection yet but, I feel it is a good thing.

“We see some big calls being made, some mistakes being made. For me, it’s a way forward. Football is a billion-dollar industry and teams can lose their status by wrong decisions. I’m all for it. I feel with time given and the improvement of technology, I’ll be happy for VAR.”

SOURCE: T&T Newsday