The national Under-17 boys’ team can still hold their heads high despite not qualifying for the CONCACAF Finals round.
This is according to head coach Colin Harewood, who was pleased with the effort and commitment displayed by the Young Tridents even though they failed to advance to the next round.
Barbados finished bottom of Group A in the Caribbean Football Union (CFU) final round after losses to hosts Haiti and Trinidad and Tobago and a draw in their final game against St Lucia.
Harewood said that his team was competitive throughout the tournament despite the scorelines but there was one obvious difference between his squad and the other three.
“The teams weren’t better than us but better prepared than us. St Lucia and Trinidad have been together since the Under-15 level, so they had two years to prepare,” he said.
The coach went on to mention the inexperience of his team compared to the experience of Haiti and the Soca Warriors, who had players on their roster who play in North America or at the premier levels in their domestic leagues.
“The experience of the other teams was a major difference; we lacked experience and a real forward. Rajohn (Hawksworth) was our leading forward in the last round and Omani Leacock was suspended for the first game and these are our only two players who play at the top flight.”
Lamenting the heat and uncomfortable conditions which were presented to the boys, Harewood said instances like these can be avoided in the future through adequate preparation and playing games outside of Barbados in various conditions and environments.
Harewood saw the tour as one of experience where the boys would have learnt a lot in aid of their development.
He also credited the work of the new Barbados Football Association (BFA) administration and believes the sport will be developed considerably under the new executive.
“The BFA has a structure in place where they recognise preparation is key and I admire that and they are definitely going in the right direction.
“The hiring of the technical director, FIFA aid and the hands-on support of the president [Randy Harris] puts us on the right track of development,” he said.
Looking towards the future, Harewood is ready to start working again once the opportunity is granted as he believes he still has a lot to offer, especially considering his thoughts on youth and youth development.
“Development has to be continuous and systematic, we have to keep our teams in training constantly, not six or seven months before a tournament, it’ll never work. We [coaches] have to put in some time and work with the players all year round,” he advised.
Harewood said the future of Barbados football was bright and he would do whatever he could to contribute to its development.