Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : December 10th 2013 Contents A64
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Tuesday, December 10, 2013
Today we continue our three-part series
on T&T's football which was started in
yesterday's Guardian. The final part will
be carried in tomorrow's edition.
Local football fans may be
pleased at the current form of
T&T s senior national men s team,
but there are dozens of friendly
and competitive matches in the
next four years, before the Soca
Warriors can secure its second
berth in a Fifa World Cup.
After several years at the helm of
Canadian football, Stephen Hart, now
six months in as head coach of T&T s
senior team, knows that a sustainable
structure is of prime importance to
see this country, the smallest national
to qualify for a World Cup, make it to
Russia in 2018.
Given a balance is found following
another consistent slate of international
matches, is it realistic for T&T to
expect its national team to strive much
further than what was achieved in the
previous World Cup qualifying cam-
paign? "If collectively we do not have
that belief, then what are we doing?
The answer is definitely!" said Hart
in a beat. Hart believes that raw talent
in this country is by no means lacking,
and there is not a single position, be
it from the goalkeeper to striker, that
is not in demand.
Approximately three months sep-
arate today and the next Fifa interna-
tional window, which is expected to
attract a tough, quality opponent, but
there is the obvious factor of cost,
However, between January and Feb-
ruary two friendly international match-
es are planned for the use of local-
based players and those on winter
breaks. Those who haven t represented
the country before, or have not done
so for some time may not worry.
"If they (uncapped players) warrant
selection, then yes (they will be
picked)," said Hart, who said he does
have the impression that many talents
are yearning and fighting for a place
among the Soca Warriors.
"The senior team is about players
playing consistently for their respective
clubs and playing in the best compe-
The Warriors have not lost in five
matches, and in contrast to their form
earlier this year, scored in four of those
But, Hart won t get ahead of him-
self. While results have been positive
as of late, he remains mindful and
wary of his team s lack of consistency
in certain elements. "We are under no
illusions where the performances are
concerned. We know we have a long
way to go. During periods of the game,
we have had good spells of possession,
attacking play and showed some good
response in the transition. However,
we were far from consistent in this
He added, "This is about belief and
showing confidence. It s mental, really.
The staff and I work very specifically
on various aspects of performance.
Every camp has a theme and collec-
tively we strive for a buy-in from all
involved. The players have the abil-
"At times some players will be in
better form than others, so there are
good moments and not so good
moments. After all, we only have three
to four sessions before matches. I am
the first to admit consistency is a long
way off. Time and patience are key
factors in the process- there are no
instant remedies. I am confident we
can achieve consistency in our deliv-
ery." Hart also sought to focus on holis-
tic development, essentially shaping
individuals for a functioning society.
"It s not just about creating footballers,"
"Development is a measurable, long
term, pathway objective. At a youth
level the emphasis should not be placed
on any one coach, myself included.
There should be a system and structure
"All partners involved (should be)
working together to achieve a common
goal. A long term vision, planning with
measurable outcomes, strong financial
and human resource investment, nur-
tured and natural player development
pathways, strong coaching bonds
working in harmony off the field, yet
competing on it, etcetera."
"It is amazing what can be achieved
if no one wants the credit."
What about the top tier football
league and the players required to
choose from locally? Is the league at
a satisfactory level, and why are most
clubs struggling to attract a fan base?
Hart s response was: "This is a massive
question and can take an entire inter-
view. Let me state from the onset that
I do not in any way believe I have the
answers. I can only offer an honest
He continued, "Satisfactory level?
In most instances, yes! Firstly, give
credit and respect to the owners who
understand the value of sport to the
people and how it contributes to our
society. They put their money where
their mouth is, so to speak, with very
little in return. They are doing this for
the love of the game."
"Secondly, I honestly believe coach-
es are doing their best with what they
are given. Let s face it, there is a certain
reality surrounding pro football in T&T.
It provides an alternative revenue
stream for many who appreciate the
opportunity to earn while playing the
game they love. It keeps them visible
in the game and may just lead to bigger
and better opportunities in football.
However, we also lose many quality
players because they cannot survive
on the present salaries. It s a double-
What is a potential solution? "The
quality can be vastly improved upon
the access to consistent training facil-
ities and better playing surfaces that
are match-day prepared. We also have
to pace scientifically with all aspects
of player preparation and recovery.
Players have to also contribute to this
by studying the game, paying attention
to their off the field lifestyle, diet, rest,
recovery, strength and conditioning,
etcetera," he said.
Hart also alluded to T&T s after-
work recreational lifestyle as a hin-
drance for a lack of support at football
matches. "Support in any sport in
T&T is fickle," he said.
"The Friday (Pro League) match
days may not be the best choice due
to the T&T Friday after-work culture.
Many see community-based as the
way to go. However, in order to move
in this direction, many things need to
be put into place. People have to feel
comfortable attending matches, espe-
cially if you want to attract families.
This means (added or improved) rest
room facilities, seating, concessions,
safety, etcetera. Consideration may be
given to the fact that in most countries,
the club has supporter groups that
manage and rally support, orchestrate
match-day activities and urge the vocal
support at games."
At the heart of T&T's new football ethic---Part two
Talent here, let's
plan for future
National men's senior team head coach Stephen Hart, right, gives
instructions to T&T players during a recent training session, at the
Hasely Crawford Stadium, Port-of-Spain.
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