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24
Sat, Aug

- TEAM TTO THRIVE - 

Coach Alvin Corneal conducts a training session in Brazil 2014.

FOOTBALL

The years have rolled by rather quick­ly. I could dis­tinct­ly re­mem­ber the first day the Al­cons Soc­cer Acad­e­my start­ed its pri­ma­ry coach­ing ses­sion at the Uni­ver­si­ty of the West In­dies (UWI), St Au­gus­tine front ground in June 1969.

To many, that day may have meant noth­ing to them, as they were very young. I was pleased to have shared a won­der­ful din­ner last Sat­ur­day with close to one hun­dred of the play­ers that passed through Al­cons, past and present, who have been mem­bers of the ACCS which car­ried the name of “Mal­ta Carib Al­cons.

On Sat­ur­day night, my ex­pres­sion of great joy had been as much as I ex­pect­ed in life of sport when I was able to meet and greet with some of the coun­try's finest foot­ballers, whose ca­reers stretched from the tiny tots of the ACCS to the now pop­u­lar “Al­cons” where par­ents may well have hope that their chil­dren will make the grade of a fu­ture soc­cer star.

Hav­ing trav­elled to many parts of the world and had a good look at the de­vel­op­ment process­es of foot­ball in most so­phis­ti­cat­ed ways and how kids were taught to turn their lives in­to su­per­stars. Hav­ing had my fair share of my own and to my great sat­is­fac­tion, the time seemed to have ar­rived for me to ex­er­cise the lessons learnt from the sin­gle dig­it years through to the age of 31.

From the ear­ly stages of teach­ing this beau­ti­ful game, the most es­sen­tial was with the young ones whose de­ci­sion was based up­on whether or not he/she was en­joy­ing the ac­tiv­i­ty, es­pe­cial­ly as some may have been un­der­ex­posed to play­ing with kids on the block.

Trust me, the jour­ney was an ab­solute joy to me and to the thou­sands of kids who ben­e­fit­ted the val­ue of the Al­cons Soc­cer Acad­e­my. This turned in­to the “Mal­ta Carib Al­cons” be­cause of some in­ter­est­ed par­ents who viewed the project pos­i­tive­ly and brought some ex­po­sure to the ini­tial game plan. Four years in­to the acad­e­my” the late “Dr. An­tho­ny Sab­ga”, chair­man of the Carib Brew­ery in those days who resided with­in the com­pound, was ap­proached by two se­nior em­ploy­ees of the com­pa­ny, the de­ceased Michael Red­head, (head Brew­er), Sel­wyn Ray­mond, a ver­sa­tile sports­man whose love for Crick­et, horse rac­ing and Foot­ball could hard­ly be di­vid­ed with­in his emo­tions.

The mo­men­tum was rapid with both crick­et and foot­ball that our ses­sion be­came a full year of coach­ing pro­gramme which brought joy to kids and par­ents on Sat­ur­days and Sun­days.

A quick turn of the pages which re­flect­ed ex­cit­ing years had reached the pro­por­tions, gained mo­men­tum when the kind­ness of the “Mal­ta Carib Brand” de­part­ment, de­cid­ed that the ses­sions should be moved to the com­pound where the com­pa­ny had its own ground south of the Brew­ery.

By that time, I had cov­ered some six­teen years of rep­re­sent­ing the coun­try in both sports and joined the pro­fes­sion­al ranks as a Crick­eter in Eng­land. My de­sire was to be­come a coach many years be­fore and my trips to Eng­land for our sum­mers took me through pre­lim­i­nary and ad­vanced coach­ing cours­es in both foot­ball and crick­et.

With­in a few years, the pen­du­lum start­ed its lusty swings when a huge amount of great po­ten­tial among the group, some of whom had been at­tend­ing sec­ondary schools and the pres­tige schools. Some of the par­ents be­came as in­spired as I was to get these guys in­to a strong com­pet­i­tive stan­dard. Our first tour to Venezuela had opened the eyes of many young­sters in­clud­ing my own chil­dren to demon­strate their skills with­in the school com­pe­ti­tions.

A vis­it in 1974, I was giv­en the re­spon­si­bil­i­ty to coach the Un­der-20 na­tion­al team to en­ter for the first time to the Con­ca­caf tour­na­ment. Hap­py to say that the team was very suc­cess­ful and won the bronze medal by a bunch who were not well known in TT un­til that pe­ri­od.

The path for the next 45 years was filled with some of the finest play­ers of that era and grad­u­al­ly were joined by some ex­quis­ite play­ers, most of whom were at­tract­ing the fans for many years. Most of them joined the na­tion­al se­nior team in 1975 in the PanAm games in Mex­i­co, then re­tained their ca­pa­bil­i­ties as they were able to gain Uni­ver­si­ty schol­ar­ships in the USA. Most of them ex­celled and made names for them­selves on the soc­cer fields and in the class­rooms.

Yes, Al­cons were reg­u­lar win­ners of lo­cal com­pe­ti­tions, such as the East Zone in 1984, the Caribbean pro­fes­sion­al League in a few years lat­er. Team of the year in 1985. We did not stop ex­cept for the pe­ri­od when our lads were in great de­mand via US schol­ar­ships.

The num­ber of play­ers of three and four years be­came huge. It would sure­ly have been un­fair to call names of some and not the oth­ers be­cause of the many suc­cess sto­ries. A trip to the USA al­most every year from 1974 to 2009, Brazil 1984, Ger­many 1986, Brasil again in 1988 and 2013, Eng­land 2009, Pana­ma 2016 and Suri­nam 2015.

Our il­lus­tri­ous op­po­nents stretched from pro­fes­sion­al teams in Brazil, Eng­land, Na­tion­al Brasil­ian team of 1984 prepar­ing for the Olympics in Los An­ge­les, Two match­es against UAE who was prepar­ing for the up­com­ing World Cup fi­nals and trained by the fa­mous Brazil­ian coach Car­los Al­ber­to Par­reira.

Our Suc­cess­es in the East Zone start­ed in the eight­ies where we won the league and reached the open FA fi­nal, a game which we lost to Trin­toc 1-0. Our last en­try was to the North Zone where we al­so won the Knock out Fru­ta Cup, sec­ond in the league, and Team of the year.

Our his­to­ry has been ex­cel­lent as far as na­tion­al se­nior and ju­nior play­ers over the years and I am pleased to have worked with some of the coun­try's finest play­ers who turned out to be well groomed and showed their abil­i­ty to ex­cel as ath­letes, aca­d­e­mics, and busi­ness­men.

We had hoped to bring the many fans to­geth­er for this oc­ca­sion but our suc­cess to reach those who at­tend­ed, were fa­mil­iar with the Acad­e­my through clos­ing cer­e­monies at Christ­mas time for the end of the year past/present.

We shall con­tin­ue to fol­low the route of progress, thanks to our long-time spon­sors, who brought us to this point and hope­ful­ly be­yond. Those who may wish to get a bet­ter pic­ture of our his­to­ry can make con­tact with my­self or mem­bers of the Acad­e­my and we shall send you copies.

Source

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