National youth football coach Brian Williams sympathises with coach Jamaal Shabazz, saying that a lack of proper preparation for national teams is affecting their performance at regional and international tournaments.
Williams was speaking on the heels of the Trinidad and Tobago’s 3-2 defeat to Haiti in the CONCACAF Under-20 Women’s Championships currently being staged at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva.
T&T were off to an excellent start in the match as they led 2-0 after 12 minutes. However, T&T lost their way to eventually lose the match courtesy a hat-trick from Nerilia Mondesir.
Speaking after the defeat to Haiti, T&T coach Jamaal Shabazz said T&T had a dream start but “we lost to a more skilful, fitter and more aggressive Haitian team.”
Prior to the start of the tournament, T&T struggled to get quality international warm-up matches. Shabazz was hoping to play a Central or South American team, but had to settle for matches against local teams including matches against the national senior women’s team, an Under-15 boys team and a team of ex-national players such as Cornell Glen and Dennis Lawrence.
Shabazz said he knew it was a struggle now from an economic standpoint to arrange international friendly matches, but was still hopeful for friendly matches leading up to the tournament.
In an interview with Newsday in December, Shabazz said, “If we get a chance to play on the moon, we will play. The ideal (thing) would be to get somebody to come play here but it’s very difficult,” he said. “In women’s football, friendly matches are a luxury.”
Williams, the national Under-20 football coach, understands what Shabazz has to endure as a national coach. Williams said, “As a national coach, sometimes our hands are tied with proper preparation which puts us at a disadvantage to really assess properly our work. So from what I saw (against Haiti), we could see fitness was a challenge for our girls.”
Williams said sometimes people expect coaches to perform miracles, but often times coaches are not given the proper tools to work with. “He could only work with what he has. He could only work with the time given to him. From a national coaching perspective, we sometimes have to be miracle men or magic men.”
Williams said players should not be making their debut in a tournament which doubles as a World Cup qualifier.
“We don’t have a proper league where these girls will be playing on an ongoing basis to prepare themselves...To be fair, we have more to do from a general perspective in preparing our girls for these competitions. Some of the girls came in the national programme for the first time and they never have been in any organised training.”