Defence Force FC have achieved one of their two goals in the inaugural TT Premier Football League (TTPFL), qualifying for the 2023 Concacaf Caribbean Cup, after a 3-0 result over W Connection on Sunday. Their second objective – which is still in play – is winning the league crown. Trailing league leaders AC Port of Spain (who also qualified for the Concacaf Caribbean Cup) by just two points with four rounds to go, Defence Force are dreaming of further success.
They owe their strong start to the season to their administrators and former senior players who trusted the process of rebuilding the team through proper planning.
Assistant coach Devin Elcock is not surprises by the results and was full of praise for their decision makers and hard work.
He said, “Thanks to the administration for believing in succession planning. This team has been playing together for six years. We had senior players acting the role of mentors, which allowed the newcomers to understand the style of play. We are focused now on building on our fitness and mental strength knowing that we are coming up against our Caribbean counterparts.”
He credited former players such as Devorn Jorsling and Jerwyn Balthazar for their role in the current crop showing their potential.
“We had a long-term goal of recruiting players to the Defence Force, so (former) players like Devorn Jorsling and Jerwyn Balthazar assisted the coaching staff in selection of players as well as mentoring them, and we have seen the growth in the team.”
Defence Force have 15 wins, two losses and one draw this season, with striker Brent Sam, forward Reon Moore, midfielder Justin Sadoo and defenders Justin Garcia and Jelani Felix having outstanding seasons.
Army are no strangers to playing football at the Concacaf level, having represented the country countless times in the past and winning the Concacaf Champions` Cup in 1978 and 1985 – the only team from TT to achieve that feat.
The “Teteron Boys” are coached by Lloyd Andrews with Elcock and former national senior men`s coach Hutson Charles as his deputies. Keston Charles (chairman) and Basil Thompson (manager) complement the managerial team. Elcock said this combination is one of the best in their team`s history.
Elcock, the younger brother of former national defender Ansil Elcock, has been with Defence Force football since 2007 and has been assistant coach since 2017. He is the head coach of the Defence Force women's team and is pursuing his TTFA A-Licence coaching badge and a master’s in sport management at UWI.
Defence Force had a stuttering start to the TTPFL, but they gathered their legs as the season progressed. Elcock said, “We identified our shortcomings and worked on it. We didn’t have an ideal pre-season and some of our players were out with the national team. When they returned to the team, the spirit in the squad was lifted and we became more focused on training. The guys channelled that energy into the games, and you could have seen the mindset and determination of the players.”
With the league title in their grasp and a top-of-the-table clash with AC Port of Spain looming, Elcock said the team is taking it one game at a time. “The next game is the most important game. Our focus is solely on Police FC who have been showing good form in the last few matches. We must play one game at a time to maintain our position, then we will turn our focus to AC POS when that time comes.”