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Errol LovellGoalkeeper Errol Lovell represented Trinidad and Tobago from 1978 to 1989, amassing a total of 85 caps between youth and senior appearances. A member of our famous Strike Squad team, he also notably played for Defence Force where he won the CONCACAF Champions' Cup in 1985, as well as ASL Sports Club, the star-laden professional club of the early 1980s. Now the holder of numerous coaching licenses, including USSF "A", USSF "B", National Youth, National Goalkeeping, and an NSCAA Advanced National Diploma, Errol has made the transition from player to coach while at the same time earning a Graduate degree in Human Services. Based in Houston, Texas, Errol recently spoke with us at length on a wide range of footballing topics. If you didn't know much about him before, this interview will fill that knowledge gap.

SW: I understand that you were born in Tunapuna, but grew up in Arouca.
EL: Yes, I was born in Tunapuna at the hospital, and grew up in Arouca. Five Rivers, Arouca to be specific. I attended Arouca Government School, and then I went on to Five Rivers Junior Sec and then St. Augustine Senior Comprehensive. All my formative years were spent on the East West Corridor.

SW: What are some of your earliest footballing memories?
EL: I really started playing football in the Eddie Hart League. That's where it all started. But my first love was really cricket. I represented the East Zone in the Wes Hall League back in the day.

SW: What was your specialty? Bowling, batting, or were you an all-rounder?
EL: I was an opening batsman as well as a wicket-keeper. I used to open the batting with Phil Simmons, who went on to play for the West Indies. People like Prince Bartholomew and deceased Gordon Draper were heavily involved with the East Zone team in those days. I used to wicket-keep, and I ended up playing football accidentally. One day I was playing cricket in the Savannah in Five Rivers and they didn't have a goalkeeper for the football team. My cousin, who is Carter's elder brother named Fooey, was the coach of the U-15 team. He put me in goal because of my wicket-keeping skills. I did such a good job that he signed me up to play in the Eddie Hart League.

SW: What was the name of the team?
EL: Five Rivers Eagles.

SW: How old were you at the time?
EL: I was about thirteen years old.

SW: When you said that your cousin was Carter's elder brother, are you referring to Earl "Spiderman" Carter?
EL: Yes. His name is Kenneth Carter, but he is better known as Fooey.

SW: That's news to me. I didn't realize that you and Spiderman were related.
EL: Yes, he is my first cousin. My father's sister's son.

SW: How long did you continue playing for Five Rivers Eagles?
EL: I played with them from the age of thirteen until about fifteen or sixteen. There was another youth team in the area called Strikers. Danny Smart was the coach, and I played with them for a couple of years until I was about sixteen or seventeen. After I graduated from Secondary School I went to John D. While I was playing in Town, Carib Peterborough, coached by a Brazilian named Casa Grande, approached me and I ended up playing for them and John D. for a couple of years. After that, I moved back East and played with Fulham.

SW: Did you ever play for St. Augustine?
EL: Yes, I played with St. Augustine in the Colleges League. I was the second choice goalkeeper on the senior team. Wayne Allen was the starting goalkeeper in those days. But I was the starting goalkeeper on the junior team.

SW: At 5' 11", you don't have the typical height of a goalkeeper. Was that ever a problem?
EL: This is true, but I was able to make a lot of height with my leap. I was doing a lot of plyometrics training which really helped to develop the explosive power in my lower extremities, and it helped me master my aerial game.

SW: Did you do that training on your own, or were you helped by a coach?
EL:  Brandon Bailey. When I was at Five Rivers Junior Sec, he was the Physical Education teacher there, and he sort of took the initiative and really helped me. Since I used to play cricket in those days, it really helped me with my footwork and leg strength. I also visited his home in Arima and did some weight training on a couple of occasions.

SW: That's kind of strange to hear, because even to this day a lot of our local-based footballers do not like to get involved in weight training.
EL: It is very important. Brandon really opened my mind to the scientific aspect of training, and I learned a lot from him. He was the first local person I heard talking about the concept of periodization training back in the 70’s. The application of this philosophy to my training regime aided in my overall development as an athlete.Fatima vs John D 1979

SW: How would you describe your playing days at John D? You had Clayton Morris in defense, and Alan "Peru" Anderson in midfield. You also had the epic three-game battle with Fatima for the 1979 Intercol title. What do you remember about that series?
EL:  Wow, it was very, very competitive. In those days there were no favorites at all. On the day of the game it came down to who wanted it more, plus a stroke of luck. Fatima had players like Graeme Rodriguez, Anton Corneal, Garnet Craig, and [Kenwyn] Nancoo. They had a really great team, and it was a battle of wills.

SW: I read an interview with "Peru" where he said that politics were involved in the decision to replay the first game, which John D originally won 2-1. It was said that the referee went overtime in the first half by about 10 minutes.
EL: Well, you can look at it that way, but as an athlete I never really looked at blaming the officials for the outcome of the game. At the end of the day, it's whoever manages to put the ball in the goal the most times is the winner. Of course sometimes you may get bad calls or bad decisions during the course of the game, but I think that's what makes the game interesting. I don't really like to delve into the political aspect of the referee deciding the outcome of the game. The referees are human and they make errors.

SW: He also mentioned that you played a phenomenal role in keeping Fatima at bay, especially given the fact that you had to contend with Garnet Craig who was well known for his heading ability.
EL: I think their plan in that game was to attack through the flanks and get the ball over the top and make use of Craig’s aerial strength. However, on several occasions I was able to come off my line and thwart their attack. This showed the results of my hard work in developing my leg strength, which contributed immensely in mastering my aerial game as a goalkeeper, and it played an integral role in dealing with Garnet. I think I was outstanding in that game. I had to probably deal with about ten to twelve cross balls.

SW: Was that the first game or the second game?
EL: I believe it was the second game.

SW: I think that game ended up as a 3-3 draw.
EL: Yes, that was a really entertaining game. Football was really the winner on that day.

SW: When you look back at that those types of games, do you think it was a mistake to remove the Technical schools from the Colleges League?
EL: I believe it was a great error to remove the Technical schools from the Colleges League. You had a lot of players who would choose a vocational education which prepared them for a technical career, instead of pursuing an academic based education. I was blessed to be versatile in both areas, but I chose technical, because my dad was a Supervisor at the Drainage Division of the Ministry of Works, and he had a home construction business, and I wanted to help out in the family business. I think it was a disservice to the game, because what they did was restrict the player pool that was available for national selection. We are already at a disadvantage in terms of our player pool; therefore it’s necessary to maximize our human capital.

SW: But what about the other view, where people have said that the schools had an unfair advantage due to the age of the players and the length of time they remained at the schools?
EL: Well I think that contributed to raising the level and quality of the football. You had players who were more mature in the game. This in turn raised the level of play of the traditional colleges during that era. Yes, there was an advantage, but at the same time it raised the overall level of play throughout the Colleges League.

SW: Regarding the development of players, how important was the Colleges League?
EL: I think it played a very, very instrumental role in the development of football as a whole. But if greater efforts were placed in coaching and player education, coupled with best practices in sports administration, it could have taken the game to another level.

SW: Now fast forward 30 years. Do you feel that the Secondary Schools Football League should be instrumental in the development of players, or should that be left to the teams in the Youth Pro League?
EL: I believe the Youth Pro League teams, youth clubs, secondary schools, and elementary schools should be inextricably linked. What is needed is a vertically integrated philosophy in terms of how players are developed. A systemic approach to youth development and football in general must be adopted in order to have players fully prepared to represent national teams. Imagine you have players who are not psychologically, physiologically, technically, or tactically ready to play at the international level, but they are wearing national colors.

SW: How did you end up representing T&T? Did you play at the youth level, or was it only with the senior team?
EL: I was selected to the youth and senior team while I was at John D. When I was selected to the senior team, there were guys like Gordon Husbands, Shurland Richards, Steve Pierre, Curtis Murrell, Michael Maurice, and Earl Carter in the mix.

SW: What youth team are you referring to?
EL: It was the U-19 team.

SW: It seems as though there was some serious competition for the goalkeeping position.
EL: It was quite a battle for the keeper position. Back then I was the third or fourth string keeper. Edgar Vidale was the coach, and I think it was a great education in itself having to work alongside top class keepers like Carter and Brow at the national level, and Richards and John Granville at ASL. I think those experiences really shaped my career as a player, and moreso contributed to my overall development as a goalkeeper.

SW: What was your experience like with the Strike Squad?Strike Squad postcard
EL: Wow! Man! It was beyond football. I would say that my experience with the Strike Squad resonated within myself a passion for my country. Gally was very nationalistic and really loved his country, and I think that was transmitted to the players. It reinvigorated what nationhood meant, and played an important role in shaping us as individuals. I think that experience stood out in my career. Every time you stepped onto the field, it was not only about you, but a nation. You left most training sessions with the knowledge that you gave your best effort. It had a greater underpinning than just being a player, you were a sporting ambassador. Personally, it was a movement that fostered national unity and revolutionized the philosophy of the local game. Gally was able to fuse our culture with the game of soccer, which was evident in how we played the game, and this was matched with belief in self and each other.

SW: Do you keep in touch with some of those guys?
EL: Yes, I still keep in touch with them via e-mail and telephone.

SW: They keep it going with events like charity matches. Do you ever get the urge to go back and participate?
EL: I went back and participated in the reenactment of Nov 19th in recent years, where we played against the US team at the National Stadium. I think that the charitable games they continue to play are important, because people could reconnect with those set of core beliefs of the Strike Squad: God, nationhood, and sporting excellence.

SW: Throughout the years, we have dissected the subject matter and postulated theories. We have heard the so-called experts give their views on why we failed to achieve our goal back on that fateful day in 1989. Having been through it, what are your views on what happened?
EL: I am not making any excuses, but my take on the whole situation is preparation is the key to any successful performance or result. We were well prepared for the game, however, on the day of the game there were so many distractions which took place, and this hampered our mental focus, and drained our energy level. Thus, the team never performed to its maximum potential. We had the opportunity to move from Fyzabad leading to the build up to the game, and possibly move to the Hilton. The technical staff did not want to break with tradition, and they chose for us to remain at our base in Fyzabad and proceed to the game from there. Prior to the game we attended a church service, and from the service we traveled to the Stadium. The highways were packed with people along the route, and everybody wanted to pull and touch you upon entry to the stadium. Also, loyal supporters who supported us from the inception of the journey were complaining to us that they bought tickets and were unable to get into the stadium because it was full to capacity. That is another story by itself, but I will not delve into it.

SW: So basically what you're saying is that our inability to take it to the next level was as a result of non-footballing reasons?
EL:  Yes.

SW: I've spoken at length with Brian Williams, Leonson Lewis, and other Strike Squad members, and they've all said the same thing. It was too much, it was overwhelming.
EL:  I was on the bench for that game, and when I got to the stadium I was physically and mentally drained, much less for the eleven guys who took the field. As a matter of fact, I think Brian Williams was the only player who really performed at the desired level, but the performance of the rest of the players was just average, and not at their usually high level.

SW: What was the mood in the dressing room after the game?
EL:  One of dejection and disappointment, because we knew we were the better team. That was the overall mood.

SW: A lot of time has passed, but do you still reflect on that day, the game, and what could have been?
EL: It's history. Back then you thought about how that game could have changed your life. Probably that game could have propelled me to a professional career, and probably I would not have postponed higher education. But I look at everything as a blessing in disguise. I live my life with absolutely no regrets. Probably this is the way it was supposed to be. I look at it as a positive experience. It contributed to shaping me as the person I am today. It was a great experience barring that loss. It was great, it was fantastic. I have no regrets sacrificing some years of my life in the interest of my country. If I had to do it again, I would.

SW: What about club football? You've played for a variety of teams. Which ones stand out? The Army must be up there, but what other teams bring you great memories?
EL:  I would say ASL Sports Club. I really have some fantastic memories.

SW: When you played for ASL, who else was on that squad?
EL: Ron La Forest, John Granville, Ralph "Arab" Nelson, Stuart Charles, and Brian Williams, just to name a few.

SW: Those were prime players.
EL: The best players in the country. In those days we played at PSA, our home venue and other grounds across the country.

SW: There were many foreign club teams which came down to Trinidad & Tobago at that time.
EL: We played against a lot of foreign teams. We also traveled to Europe, and played against Stoke City, Tottenham Hotspur, Crystal Palace, and we did well. We beat Stoke City and Crystal Palace, and drew with Tottenham.

SW: You said you traveled to Europe? What year was that?
EL: Yes. I believe it was 1983, before I went into the Army. We had a training camp in England prior to the start of the season.

SW: That sounds like some glory days.
EL: It was, it was. And we played against quality players like Garth Crooks, Glen Hoddle, Ray Clemence, and Chris McGrath. They were top players in Europe at that time. One had to be at the top of one’s game against players of that caliber.

Defence Force 1985SW: What took you to the Army?
EL: National service, job stability and the opportunity to continue playing football with a top class team.

SW: What year did you join the Army?
EL: I joined the Defence Force in 1985, the same year we won the CONCACAF Champions’ Cup, the precursor to the CONCACAF Champions League. I was twenty-four year of age, and I served for approximately six years.

SW: What was it like to win such a high profile competition?
EL: It was a surreal experience winning the CONCACAF Club Championships in 1985, the first year I joined the Army. It was comforting after failing at the final hurdle on two occasions with my former club ASL Sports. I was the reserve goalkeeper for the decisive game against Olimpia in Honduras, Hayden Thomas was the starting goalkeeper, and he was in fine form. It was a crowning achievement not only for the Army, but by extension Trinidad & Tobago and Caribbean football. Some of the challenges we had to overcome were playing in front of very vocal and intimidating crowds, adjusting to different environments, food. We came up against professional players who were better than us, but we wanted it more than them, and eventually prevailed champions. Also, we had a group of men that believed in each other and an excellent coach who implemented an excellent game plan, coupled with the mantra of a trained soldier going into battle, "kill or be killed". We absorbed Olimpia’s relentless pressure in an organized and cohesive manner, and then counter-attacked when given the opportunity.

SW: What professional path did you pursue when you left the Army?
EL: I came back to the United States on a soccer scholarship at Lander University in 1990 upon leaving the Army.

SW: Was that the point at which you permanently migrated to the United States?
EL:Yes, that was when I permanently migrated. Also, I already had two years under my belt from my time at St. Francis College, but I placed my education on hold to play professionally. After 1989 an opportunity presented itself and I figured that I could continue my education and still play the game that I love. I received a scholarship to Lander University and joined up with Maurice Alibey, Noel Auguste, Michael Thomas, Ken Davis, and Noel Husbands. We managed to help the school win the NAIA District 6 Championship in 1990, and went on to play in the National Final Four, where we finished third.

SW: How did you get the nickname Yankee?
EL:  After I left John D, I took up an athletic scholarship at St. Francis College in New York. I played there for two years, and I picked up a little American accent. My brothers started to heckle me upon my return home, calling me Yankee, and the nickname stuck.

SW: How long have you been in Houston?
EL:  This is the second time that I have been living in Houston, and on this occasion I have been here for one year. I previously lived here during the late 90s.

SW: Take us through the journey that brought you to the Lone Star State.
EL: When I returned to the United States after the Strike Squad, I went to South Carolina, at Lander University, and then I moved to New York, where I resumed my studies at St. Francis College. After a couple of years I moved to Texas, and from Texas I moved to California for five years, then to Atlanta, and now I’m back in the Lone Star State.

SW: Where did you live and work in California?
EL: Los Angeles. While in LA I completed my undergraduate studies, graduating Magna Cum Laude, and I went straight to graduate school at Springfield College, where I obtained a Master’s degree in Human Services with a concentration in Community Counseling Psychology, while also coaching “girl soccer” at Centennial High School. Eventually, the company that I worked with, Southern California Youth and Family Center, went out of business, and I was seconded to LA County Probation Department “school base probation program” at Centennial High. I decided to journey to Atlanta to seek new opportunities. I worked with the State of Georgia Department of Family and Children Service as a child protective services investigator. Eventually, I quit my day job, and ended up working full time in football overseeing the direction of a program with over 2,500 kids, and managing about twelve other coaches. I was involved in developing age-appropriate training curriculums for kids ranging from five to eighteen years of age.

SW: Who was this with?
EL: This was with Lazers Football Club based on the south side of Atlanta in Peachtree City. I did that for about five years, and I also worked with Georgia State Soccer Association, with the Olympic Development Program.

SW: What age group of the ODP did you work with, and was it boys or girls?
EL: It was U-15 girls.

SW: Are you still involved with the ODP?
EL: No, I am no longer involved with the ODP. Due to work commitments during the day, coupled with coaching at the Houston Dynamo youth program, my time is very limited.

SW: When did you first get into coaching and what path did you take to become a qualified coach?
EL: I started off coaching really seriously after the Strike Squad, when I was at Lander. I would coach kids during summer camps, and I would receive a small stipend. The experience of these summer camps heightened my awareness and love for coaching. I decided that this was a profession that I wanted to pursue as one of my career options after my playing days were finished. I started taking coaching licenses while I was in Texas from 1995-2000. I did my USSF "B" license and NSCAA Advanced National Diploma, and then a couple of years after I did my USSF "A", National Youth, and National Goalkeeper licenses.

SW: Is there a particular coaching philosophy that you follow?
EL: I believe in short passing, quick fluid movement of players, and maintaining ball possession. Primarily I follow the Dutch model known as TIPS. TIPS stands for technique, insight, personality, and speed. I follow that model because it contributes to developing the total player, while providing a simplified and structural approach to player development and coaching education.

SW: So you're probably glad to see that the TTFF has officially adopted a Dutch philosophy?
EL: I believe it’s a step in the right direction from a coaching and player development perspective.

SW: Do you prefer coaching youths or senior players?
EL: I'm comfortable coaching both. What I love about coaching youth players is that you actually get to see your work bear fruit. Development is of primary importance with this group. Also, it's not only about soccer, but shaping their minds, and inculcating good character traits and work ethic, which are important ingredients for success as an athlete, and life in general. However, with the professionals it's more about producing results. They have already mastered the basics of the game, and their focus is on maintaining and enhancing the fundamentals of their game, coupled with implementing the tactical game plan of the coach in order to produce results.

SW: I see that at one point you were involved with W-Connection as a goalkeeper coach. When did that take place?
EL: That was in 1999/2000, the very first year that the Professional League was started in T&T. I was a pioneer in a sense. I was back home on vacation and Stuart Charles and David John Williams approached me to come on board, because they wanted to put a core of coaches together who could develop the team and take it to another level. I went to T&T to spend a month with my family, and I ended up staying for about a year and a half. I also had a stint with the St. Vincent national team during that time.

SW: How did the St. Vincent gig come about? Over the years T&T has exported players to various leagues in different countries, but you hardly ever hear about a T&T national in a coaching position with another national team.
EL: That came about because the head coach of the team, Sam Carrington, was my former teammate at St. Francis. We became good friends and always stayed in touch. He is originally from St. Vincent but grew up in the United States. When he got the head coach appointment to prepare the World Cup team, he actually came to Trinidad, and approached me to assist with developing and preparing their goalkeepers for World Cup qualifying. So I was working with W-Connection and St. Vincent at the same time.

SW: This was to help them in their preparations for the 2002 World Cup qualifiers?
EL: Yes, it was.

SW: Do you keep up-to-date with the goings on in T&T football?
EL:  Yes, from time to time I will go to the socawarriors.net website to find out what's happening. Sometimes when I speak to my brother or friends back home, I would get updates. I keep informed on what's going on although I’m residing abroad.

SW: Is it surprising to you that so many of your peers are heavily involved in the coaching aspect of the game? People like Anton Corneal who has been around several national teams, Ross Russell who is attempting to revive Defence Force, Brian Williams, Clayton Morris, Kerry Jameson, and Stuart Charles-Fevrier etc.
EL: I'm not surprised at all. To me it's a natural progression. From playing with these players over the years, I knew they would eventually take up coaching, because they were astute students of the game. Sometimes after games or training sessions we would sit down and hold healthy discussions about our quality of play, and the game as a whole. Our entire playing career was like a coaching course. We immersed ourselves in the coaching instructions, and some of us kept a notebook on the coach’s training sessions. We were interested in our development as players, and took pride in how we performed during match day. This was the platform which was the primary vehicle which led most of us into coaching the game at the end of our playing careers. I remember after some ASL games, Stuart Charles and I would sit down and talk about football until four or five in the morning.

SW: Let's talk a little bit about your current position. You are affiliated with the Houston Dynamo of the MLS, and you work with their youth teams. What exactly is your role there? What is the sphere of your responsibilities?Errol Lovell
EL: I work with the Center of Excellence. We have the professional team, the academy, the junior academy, the Center of Excellence, and finally Dynamo Camps. My role is primarily conducting training sessions in the various communities of Houston with a core of coaches. Our job is to identify and develop local talent, and select players for the academy and junior academy programs. From these programs, the kids are prepared for the professional level.

SW: What age range are we talking about?
EL: From seven to fifteen years of age

SW: How is this conducted? Do you advertise that a clinic will be held at a certain date and time, and have an open invitation?
EL: It's an open invitation. We advertise on our website, on billboards, television and in the newspaper. Parents sign up their kids, and we provide training five days per week.

SW: How long is the training period?
EL: The training period is based upon the age group. The session would be about an hour and a half to two hours.

SW: What's the duration of the training period? Is it a week, a month, or ongoing?
EL: It's ongoing. We do training session in blocks. We're on a 16-week block right now, then we'll break, and then we would have summer camps from June to August, and then the fall training block. Camps are conducted throughout the Houston area, Corpus Christi, San Antonio, Austin, and so on.

SW: How long has this program been in place?
EL: The academy program has been in place for the last four years, but the Center of Excellence was only started last year.

SW: Percentage wise or in terms of absolute numbers, how many players from these communities have been brought into the Houston Dynamo system through this Center of Excellence initiative?
EL: I would say about 80 percent of the youth players in our respective youth programs are from Houston and surrounding communities. We are now in the process of expanding the youth development program. It's in its infancy stages still, but there is huge potential for growth. The organization recently completed constructing a training complex which includes one artificial turf and seven grass fields, and the home stadium is under construction and carded to be completed in June 2012. I believe with the current infrastructure, Houston Dynamo programs are positioned for sustained growth.

SW: Are you in a full-time or part-time position?
EL: It's part-time. In my full time job, I am a Behavioral and Mental Health Care clinician. Of course if the opportunity presents itself for me to go full-time, I would review it to see if it's feasible. I work full-time during the day and I just do this part-time to stay in touch with the game and give back to the game. The Houston Dynamo had an ad on their website for coaches. Over 200 coaches applied and only 12 were selected after a screening process, which included an Interview and a practical coaching session.

SW: Congratulations are in order.
EL: Thank you

SW: Do you have any aspirations or inclinations to be involved in coaching in T&T?
EL: I'm always open to that possibility of working in the game back home at any level, but that decision lies with the respective parties who administer the game. I've already worked in the Pro League during the formative years, and I believe at that time I was instrumental in developing and working with the following goalkeepers: Jefferson George, Anthony Marshall, Curtis Granger, Kelvin Jack, Brian James, and Anthony Clarke. It's great to see that some of those goalkeepers who were under my charge are now currently playing an important role in the local coaching fraternity. It gives me a sense of satisfaction that I have made a tangible contribution to the local game from a coaching perspective. Regarding the local game, I think there is a lot of work that needs to be done at the administrative level. We need to bring together all disciplines such as sports medicine, administration, coaching education, and player development. I still think we need a proper soccer academy.

SW: Yes, there are many things that need to happen in order to have a sustainable model of player development, and thereby have a steady stream of competent and competitive national teams.
EL:  That is true. That is so true. You've hit the nail on the head. That process would take time to really see the light because it also takes money. In addition to the money, we need people who are courageous and bold to take the steps and really bring it to fruition.

SW: On a lighthearted note, who are some of your current favorite players?
EL: Lionel Messi. He is such a humble person, and he has mastered his craft in all aspects of the game. I like John Terry, the Chelsea stopper. I like his work ethic. Also deserving a mention is Frank Lampard.

SW: I sense that you are a Chelsea fan.
EL: No, I'm an Arsenal fan.

SW: What about goalkeepers?
EL: The Brazilian goalkeeper [Julio Cesar] with Inter Milan. He is a cut above the rest. The Spanish goalkeeper, [Iker] Casillas. The Chelsea goalkeeper [Peter Cech] is also top of the line.

SW: While coming through the ranks in T&T, who did you want to emulate?
EL: When I was a little boy around eleven or twelve years old, I always liked Lincoln Phillips when he played for the Regiment. I used to listen to the games when he was playing. I liked Kelvin Barclay. He made the position look so easy. His movements were so effortless as a result of his sound placement, and he had good distribution of the ball. I cannot forget my cousin, Earl Carter. He was an inspiration.

SW: Any predictions for Defence Force? Do you think they will qualify for the Champions League?
EL: I think they will qualify for the Champions League, but I don't think they will emerge out of the group stage. One of the reasons is that the team is a young team. I think the experience in the Champions League will serve them well providing that they keep the core of players together. If the team stays together, within three years they could be a threat in the CONCACAF region. However, to do well in that competition, the team needs to be playing at that level regularly against quality opposition. If they can get some good preparation games it can accelerate their development and readiness for teams that level.

SW: I'm looking forward to it. I hope they can get through the CFU stage and qualify for the League and cause one or two upsets.
EL: They'll get through the CFU. I'm optimistic that they'll progress through that bracket. But coming up against MLS teams and teams from Guatemala, Costa Rica, and Mexico, I think we'll struggle. Maybe we can put up a fight and cause some upset.

SW: Well it's been nice having this chat and getting reacquainted with a player who had first-hand experience of that special Strike Squad era, and is now making a name for himself. You are a certificated coach and you are now affiliated with an MLS team. I hope that if the opportunities present themselves, you will be able to take on a larger role in coaching, and hopefully one day it can trickle down into helping T&T in some way.
EL: Definitely. I share that vision also. It's been a pleasure. Thank you for taking the time to chat with me. I appreciate it.

NOTE: This interview was conducted prior to the final round of the CFU Club Champions’ Cup, where Defence Force lost both matches and failed to qualify for the CONCACAF Champions League.