FORMER TT central defender Brent Sancho is concerned about the players who may have been involved with the national Under-23 men’s football team, after the TT Football Association (TTFA) decided to withdraw the team from competing at the Concacaf Olympic qualifiers.
The Caribbean Football Union (CFU) preliminary round is carded from July 17-21. TT, on April 17, were drawn in Group B with Barbados, Cuba and the United States Virgin Islands.
Four groups of four teams each will feature in the CFU preliminary round, with two teams advancing to the Concacaf Olympic Qualifying Championship, in Costa Rica, from October 3-15.
The TTFA were yet to select a technical staff, nor was a training squad chosen, before the announcement of the withdrawal was made via a media release on Sunday night.
Scouts from club teams are usually at Concacaf youth events, and Sancho was asked if TT’s withdrawal will affect the chances of some players to secure trial stints, or even contracts, abroad.
“It would be a challenge for them,” Sancho said. “This is one avenue for them to be seen.”
Sancho also wondered about the current financial struggles which TT sporting teams face as they seek support for overseas competitions.
“For me, in sport in general, I’m very concerned,” he said. “When you look at different sports where teams are not able to leave these shores to participate because of funding, it is increasing every day.”
He continued, “It’s an alarming issue. I understand there are challenges but you’re talking about the nation’s youth (and) giving them every opportunity to put themselves on the world stage. If we’re having these challenges throughout, then something is categorically wrong. Instead of everybody pointing the finger, we as a nation need to get ourselves together and sort this situation out.”
The TTFA, in its media release, said that one of its priorities would be the national women’s team quest for a spot at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, Japan.
Sancho, who served as Minister of Sport from January till September 2015, said, “What I don’t get is in 2015 we had an international women’s professional league that had tremendous success. Since then, it’s almost like the women’s programme went into a halt.
“I think they would have their challenges,” he continued. “We had a nice platform in 2015 and like everything just went into reverse. We’ve been down that road already.
“One thing we need to recognise is, as a sporting nation, we’ve punched above our weight. We are competing against some of the top countries of the world who invest very heavily in their programmes. We need every help we can get to qualify for any tournament.”
TT Super League president Keith Look Loy was blunt in his view of the women’s programme.
“The TTFA doesn’t care about football,” he said. “(The Under-15 team) can’t get a visa when they have to travel and they totally cut (the women’s team) loose and the girls were all over crying and begging for help.”