NEWLY-APPOINTED national senior men’s football coach, Terry Fenwick, believes TT can change its shabby run of form by placing great emphasis on well-structured youth development programmes and sourcing new talents.
Fenwick made this revelation during his first press conference as head coach, at the National Cycling Centre, Couva, on Monday. According to the veteran sport administrator, the indoctrination of athlete professionalism, at a tender age, plays a key role in returning TT to the top ranks of regional football.
However, the former English Football League player admitted success will not come overnight and TT has a lot of ground work to do.
“I’m looking at international players that have got TT parentage and (are) playing at decent levels around the world. A number of players have (been) identified. I think we need to bring some new blood in just to show that we have got that quality. We can’t cure everything as quickly as we would like but if we work together, everybody, it will all come together,” he said.
Fenwick drew reference to regional teams such as Panama, Costa Rica and Honduras, who, after four and five years of development, have now gotten the general mass of their national representatives playing overseas at a higher competitive level.
He strongly believes the implementation of a professional structure and organisation of local players in their early teens will have a significant long-term impact for the overall development of young professionals in TT senior football.
“In TT, we are miles away from that (breeding young professionals). Kids are playing in the college league until they’re 20. Twenty is too late to move on and find a career in football. We’ve got to address our local game absolutely, but we’ve got to get our kids to that standard of football. They must be professionals by age 15,” added the ex-England national.
The 60-year-old coach also indicated the TT Pro League is only a fair source of unearthing local talent. With the domestic competition running just three to four months for the year, Fenwick hinted this would also be a factor contributing to unfit senior players. According to him, TT have lost its competitive dignity within the region especially since our recent demotion to the second division of Concacaf.
Fenwick,however, is willing to face his challenges head on and and get down to work, rebuilding the team from scratch and from the youth level. He remains certain TT’s progression must be a team effort intent on achieving the same goal.
“At the end of the day this is for TT,” he continued. “I want myself and the nation to be successful. I want the kids playing in the big leagues around the world but that only happens if we put the right development plans down, the right structures in place, get the right people, to run these developments, so we can galvanise the youngsters we have got. I’ve been working in developmental football for 20 years with Jabloteh, Central FC and Football Factory. I still need all the help I can get.”
The former Tottenham Hotspurs defender reiterated the importance of playing TT’s own brand of football and moving away from copying the styles of other nations. He believes TT need to play the “style that suits us”.
Having been overlooked on multiple occasions for the national coaching job, Fenwick was not bothered. This allowed him the ability to observe TT’s decline from an external perspective and draw his own conclusions as a coach.
“I think the past administration, they were playing the style of football that clearly didn’t work and it sticks out like a sore thumb with the results we’ve seen. I’ve got to change that. We’ve got a possible Gold Cup and World Cup competitions coming up. At the moment, they’re miles off of that. So I’ve got to address it quickly, look at the players that I’ve got, bring in who I have from outside so I can merge them together and produce a side to get us back to winning ways,” he stated.