MAN IN CHARGE: Shawn Cooper, right, has been appointed the National U15 boys coach as the team prepares for the upcoming Concacaf U15 championships. FILE PHOTO –
Experienced youth coach Shawn Cooper has been appointed head coach of the national boys U15 team for the upcoming 2023 Concacaf Boys U15 Championship in Dominican Republic.
Cooper’s appointment is for the duration of the tournament which runs from August 6-23.
A TT Football Association (TTFA) statement said on Thursday that Cooper joins coach and former national player Densill Theobald at the helm. Theobald has been assisting in overseeing the TTFA’s High Performance U-15 boys programme since May 2022.
Theobald will accompany Cooper at the upcoming Championship as assistant coach.
TT is grouped alongside Costa Rica, Honduras and Puerto Rico. Those matches will be played at the Felix Sanchez Stadium. TT faces Honduras on August 6, Costa Rica Rica on August 7 and close off the group stage against Puerto Rico on August 8.
After the tournament, Cooper will continue to serve as one of the coaches within the TTFA High Performance programme for the remainder of 2023, with the intention of bridging both the U15 and U17 Programmes.
Cooper is also national U17 coach. He continues in this role for the next Concacaf Championship qualification cycle. Under his oversight, selected players from the current U15 programme will graduate to the U17 national programme in January 2024.
The head of TTFA’s High Performance boys’ is the association’s technical director Anton Corneal with Yohance Marshall and Gilbert Bateau serving as assistant coaches.
After the U15 tourney, Theobald, Marshall and Bateau will continue their duties as U13 and U15 coaches in the programme.
Speaking to TTFA media, Cooper said he’s working with 33 players from Trinidad, seven from Tobago and is expected to welcome five US-based players.
He said it’s been “difficult” so far, but will be using the Concacaf U15 tourney as a developmental one, to see which players how players react to regional competition.
“It has been a very difficult period now joining the programme about three weeks. Some of the guys I’m now getting familiar with some of them. Tweaking a bit in certain positions that some of them play. We have some boys now, this afternoon, coming in here from the US, so we can take a look at them and see if they are up to it to represent TT.”
Cooper said the tournament is going to be a “task” since it would be a lot of the boys’ first international game.
“From this, we will see how much of the guys are really up to it. It’s just about getting them familiar to play at this high level, a different technical aspect and football education is very important. This augurs well for them going into the Concacaf U17 tournament.
“We have some pretty ok technical players. What we need to do though is get them up to speed with the international game, their conditioning and all-around awareness of the game.”
He added that far too long, young players are only looking for plays when they received the ball and not before they receive it, and Cooper wants to change that.
“Their body shape opening up, a lot of technical issues, fine details. It’s a developmental programme and we will try to iron out some of these things and not put too much pressure on them in terms of winning, but executing what the coach asks of them.
Cooper wants a nice blend of players to see what he can get out of them in this short period leading up to the tournament.
“I know they have been working for over a year with Theobald. But going into an international tournament it’s a bit different; the speed of play, the speed of thought, everything is different.
“All I am asking of them is to see how we could get a game model in play and see how they execute.”