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Former T&T midfielder Anthony Wolfe speaks at the launch of the Republic Bank National Youth Football League on Tuesday, February 28th 2023.

ANTON Wolfe is urging youngsters to view the Republic Cup National Youth Football League as a stepping stone in their football careers as he once played in the league which was instrumental in his development and it eventually led him to the 2006 World Cup.

The 2006 World Cup in Germany was the only time TT qualified for the tournament after narrowly missing out on qualification for the 1974 and 1990 editions.

Wolfe was one of the speakers at the 2023 Republic Cup launch at Republic Bank’s Sports Club, Barataria on Tuesday. Gateway Athletics International and the TT Football Association (TTFA) are supporting the league.

Wolfe said, “I think this tournament helped me to unearth my talent that helped me to continue playing the football and knowing that I could reach far if I put in my dedication, sacrifices and hard work which I did. I played for numerous clubs in TT and also abroad.”

The league will run from March 4 to May 27 featuring 71 clubs which will field over 150 teams. Six divisions will compete in the league including four boys divisions and two girls divisions. The boys will play in the Under-13, Under-15, Under-17 and Under-20 age groups and in the girls division the Under-16 and Under-20 age groups will be contested.

Over 3,000 footballers are expected to compete in the league. At the end of the league, the best players will be chosen to play in an all-star match. The match will give players the opportunity to be seen by scouts who may offer the players university scholarships overseas. A college fair will also be held where league participants will have the chance to interact with administrators from universities in the US.

Wolfe said many thought he would not have been selected for the 2006 World Cup, but his work ethic paid off.

“I was a surprise selection on the 2006 World Cup team to some people, but I believe hard work does not go unrecognised.”

He urged the footballers to keep believing in themselves.

“I would like to say to the young players who want to make football or another sport part of their life…failure is part of life, failure is part of success. Anyone that has not failed has not tried. Even if you fail once keep going, if you fail twice keep going.” Wolfe encouraged the upcoming players to trust in God.

Technical director of the TTFA Anton Corneal said the league is beneficial. “They need this platform. They cannot get to their true potential without this platform. We need players to play.”

"If youngsters can play schools and club football they will be active for the majority of the year, said Corneal.

Reena Gopaul, manager group brand management, group marketing and communications at Republic Bank, said, “We believe that this competition can be the impetus for the continued development of quality football at a national level. By having a pool of young talent from which to pull we can start now to hone their skills, foster training discipline…character development and develop their talents as well to cultivate a new generation of Soca Warriors.”

Managing director at Gateaway Athletics Shem Alexander is excited that the competition provides an avenue for players to showcase their potential for foreign coaches.

SOURCE: T&T Newsday