Corneal outlines plans for T&T football development

Anton Corneal, technical director of the TTFA earlier this month outlined plans for football development, within the twin-island republic.

The plans, which will be conducted by the TTFA technical department, were conveyed to members of the media at the TTFA head office, Ato Boldon Stadium, Couva.

Among the areas under the microscope are grassroots (with an eight-year plan), youth level and elite youth levels (with four-year plans respectively), national team, Pro League and amateur football.

Corneal announced that plans are afoot for a national Youth League tournament at the various fields at the completed Home of Football – the Ato Boldon Stadium, from 2019.

According to the former national striker, “I thought it was important that, sometimes the media (are) not aware of what is happening in the Association. And I thought it was unfair for us not to pass on the information.

“Coming through our media officer (Shaun) Fuentes, we decided to let them take a look at our development programme, the pathway for football from grassroots to senior, the pathway for amateur players, the pathway for elite players, and how they meet each other. Also, to give them a little insight into our coach education and our national youth teams, and the type of preparation they need.”

The TTFA technical director said, “Too many times we think development can be done in a year or in six months. It does take eight to 10 years to get a developed player. I thought this was a lovely environment for the media to ask questions and to find out a little bit more about the TTFA and its technical department.”

Asked about the technical department’s major plans, Corneal responded, “Long-term is to compete at the highest level, to qualify for Youth World Cups, (Men’s) World Cups, to be the top team in the Caribbean and to be in the top four teams in CONCACAF.

“Of course, there must be areas where we have to measure how we are developing. Some of them would be how we compete in our regional tournaments (and) the Gold Cup, how the U-15 boys and girls compete in their regional tournaments. So that’ll gives us an indication.”

Corneal spoke about the coaching development plans implemented by his group.

“We’ve had two (C License) courses in the last six months, we’ve had two B License courses in the last eight months, we’ve had two CONCACAF Grassroot courses,” he said. “We are not putting together an academy certification for all the coaching schools and academies in the nation.”

During the media session, Corneal revealed that the estimated four-year budget for those projects are $4.5 million.

“It does take money,” said the former national men’s team assistant coach. “We are the TTFA but all of this would have to be sanctioned by the Board and, of course, supported financially. We are also hoping that some sponsors come on board to support some of these programmes.”

Ex-national coach Muhammad Isa was the head of the grassroots programme, during his tenure as TTFA director of football, until his passing on Monday.

National men’s team coach Dennis Lawrence, national women’s team tactician Jamaal Shabazz and head of the elite programme Stuart Charles-Fevrier have also been involved in development plans.