T & T Under 17 Team
December 8, 2000
By TERENCE HILTON CLARKE
THERE has been a lot of
understandable concern expressed in the newspapers, over the past few
weeks, about the status of the Trinidad and Tobago under-17 team – the
home side at next year’s World Under-17 Championship.
First, it was former international
midfielder Sedley Joseph, in the Trinidad Express, taking note of the
fact that, apart from a 4-1 loss in Haiti, the team has not had much
international exposure in recent months. Then, in a letter to last Saturday’s
Guardian, M. Hotin of St. James stated that because of the poor international
results this year, the side can easily be dubbed “The Bobolee Boys”
and recommended the hiring of a “world-class coach” to properly prepare
the team for the championships – lest there be international embarrassment
In the meantime, the current
coach of the team, Adegboye Onigbinde, was pulling his team out of the
ill-fated CFU Tournament - due to lack of preparation.
Which all leads one to ask
the relevant authorities: What is going on?
It is already bad that the
current group are extending this country’s poor run at under-17 level.
Now the team is being kept inactive, with the biggest football event
in this country’s history just around the corner. After being outclassed
by the USA, England and Mexico, and then humiliated by Suriname, Haiti
and other Caribbean teams, one would have thought that the emergency
switch would have been triggered off. Instead, the team has gone months
without seriously training and now has only a matter of months to get
ready for the globe’s best. Which means that we are now all set for
a mad scramble to get the team prepared for the tournament – a process
that is going to compete with the senior team’s World Cup preparations
and the activities of the under-20 selection: there are no prizes for
guessing that the senior squad is going to win the bidding for the bulk
of financial resources.
Things are not shaping up
well. A team that losses 4-0 to Suriname in one year, is definitely
not ready to face the likes of Brazil, Ghana and Spain in the next.
Since there is no time to destroy the nucleus of the squad, it means
that the coach and his technical staff will now have to try and perform
a miracle with the current group - over a period of just eight months.
There is just no way to see how this is going to work out. Not with
an under-17 program that has produced some of this country’s weakest
teams over the last six years: sides that have won just one out of nine
games played in Football Confederation tournaments from 1994 to 1999,
losing on five occasions, scoring 16 goals and conceding 34. Coach Onigbinde
does not have any established pedigree to work with at this level and,
now, we have a team that is being easily manhandled by less-than-top-class
Trinidad and Tobago youth
football is at a very low point right now and the time has arrived for
the slate to be wiped clean and everything re-started from square one.
I know that the phrase, “We have get a proper development program going,”
has cliché potential but, that is exactly what this country’s
football needs, as soon as possible. Trinidad and Tobago is falling
further and further behind at under-17 level and the consequences for
the future promise to be disastrous. A commitment must be made towards
producing players who will be technically adept and on par with the
counterparts around the world by the time they reach this stage. It
is only when this is achieved that this country will start to do well
at under-17 level and beyond, once again.
For now, the prospects are