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Mon, Aug

Eve hopes U-17s continue training despite tourney suspension.
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Former national team captain and current Under-17 men's coach Angus Eve is hoping that measures will be in place for the national youth team to continue on-field training when the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic restrictions are lifted come June 22.

Eve, 48, the most capped T&T international with 117 appearances, was appointed coach of the national youth team earlier this year to prepare the squad for the Concacaf U-17 Championship which was set to contest in Honduras during August.

However, on Friday last, Concacaf issued a release which said that given the ongoing uncertainty about when football can resume in the region, the confederation had decided to suspend the 2020 Girls’ U-15 and Men’s U-17 Championship qualifiers.

According to the Concacaf release, the thoughts of everyone at the confederation remains with the communities across the region affected by COVID-19.

"The health and welfare of everyone involved in the sport is our priority and we continue to monitor and follow the guidance provided by Governments and public health authorities," the release added.

Concacaf noted that it will continue to discuss with its member associations, FIFA and other stakeholders proposals to reorganise the competitions so that they are well prepared when the sport can safely resume in the future.

Commenting on the decision, Eve who coaches Naparima College in the Secondary Schools Football League as well as T&T Pro League club, Club Sando said the decision taken by Concacaf to suspend the qualifiers was expected and should not stop the team from continuing to prepare.

Eve, who has also coached at the U-20 national level added, "Based on what was happening with football leagues and other competitions in Concacaf due to COVID-19 we knew there was a big possibility that the qualifiers would be pushed back.

"I honestly don't see Concacaf resuming international football until November for the latest with the FIFA U-17 World Cup to be played in Peru next year as well, so the qualifiers could be set for early next year and that's a good reason to continue what we started.

"We were able to get two months of on-field training from the beginning of February until we were told to stop by the T&T Football Association (TTFA) due to the coronavirus, and since then we have managed to keep the programme going by conducting virtual training sessions and have been staying in regular contact with the players as well.

"So we have not stopped working and once we are allowed to resume full-team training I expect all the players will be in good physical shape to do so."

Looking past the restrictions of team sports as well possible clashes with schools football and Youth Pro League, Eve said he will like to see the players resume on-field training as soon as possible.

"Before the Concacaf tournament we have a lot of work to put in and I recently completed a coaching course with the Argentina Football Association where they explained that they normally prepare their youth teams for two-and-a-half years before a tournament.

"I believe this is the way we have to go for us to continually have teams competing in major events. We need to be doing likewise and prepare our teams for nothing less than two years, said Eve.

<Spence uncertain of Under-15 girls' fitness levels>

However, Jason Spence, coach of the U-15 girls' team and former senior women's team assistant under Randy Waldrum said he is uncertain as to what level of fitness his players will return to on-field training when they get the go-ahead to resume.

Speaking via telephone, Spence said, "The U-15 girls' programme began training during the first week in February and like all the other programmes were forced to bring everything to a halt when in mid-March.

"Concacaf did not provide a confirmed date for the girls' competition but we were all working with the idea that the tournament was set for July/August."

While some national age-group teams have been able to continue their program via virtual sessions Spence, a former U-20 women's coach admitted to having some difficulty communicating with his players.

"We have only been able to reach out to some of them via WhatsApp and have sent them programmes to follow so honestly I'm not sure what physical shape they will be in when we do get the green-light to resume training sessions as the girls no doubt to me will have been set-back in their preparations.

Away from the playing field, Spence also pointed out that there is also the added situation with regards to the payment of salaries to the coaching staff.

"As you may know by now we have not been paid for almost three months, and there is some uncertainty as to where the payments will be coming from," said Spence.