Kick it with Karyn helps to ‘bridge the football gap’

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

A Teejays Ball Blasters player dribbles the ball against a Speyside team, in the under 12 category, at the Kick it with Karyn football tournament on Plymouth Recreational Grounds, Plymouth, Tobago, Sunday. – Photo by David Reid

THE seventh edition of the Kick it with Karyn football league attracted 13 senior and 24 youth teams to the Plymouth recreational field over the long weekend.

The tournament kicked off at midday on Sunday with the youth teams taking centre stage.

After a pulsating afternoon of action in the seven-a-side competition, on two playing areas, it was down to the finals in four age groups.

Ball Blastaz of Bethel were dominant in three age groups. Blastaz defeated Jaric Titans 3-1, in the under-eight finals, following a double strike from Juric Sampson and a third from Zackery Anthony.

The Downie Marcelle-coached team also got the better of Cox Coaching School of Trinidad, in the under ten, round-robin division. Zarie Mc Millan and Amani Hopkins, both of Blastaz, were adjudged the best striker and goalkeeper, respectively.

Two goals in each half from Jaeden Anthony powered Blastaz to victory in the under-12 finals versus Jaric Titans.

Jaric Titans did secure a trophy on the day. They overcame IATF Youth Academy of Trinidad 2-1, in the under-14 finals.

Marcelle was elated over the performance of his club: “I feel really happy. It is really humbling, after all the hard work the kids put in and the commitment from the staff, it was nice to see the players express themselves the way they did today.”

Marcelle was also high in praise for the parents’ support and Forbes for staging the tournament.

“The parents’ support was phenomenal because, at this stage of children’s development, parental support is needed. I want to also thank Karyn Forbes for staging the tournament, and wish her all success in the future.”

Unfortunately, a few youth teams missed out on the opportunity to compete, owing to strict requirements of the tournament. A spokesperson of 1976 Phoenix said, “We went with two teams to participate, but some players did not have their birth paper. We tried for some parents to send the documents via social media, but that did not work out.”

“It was frustrating for the players and coaches, but we did not take it personal. We will move on from that.”

The action heated up on Monday with the men and women’s teams vying for $15,000 and $5,000, respectively.

The rivalry was frenetic during the 14-minute preliminary games, and the referees did an excellent job of keeping play moving.

National footballer Karyn Forbes at the Kick it with Karyn football tournament on Sunday in Plymouth. – Photo by David Reid

The women’s final came down to an all-Trini match-up between Unknown, comprising past and current national players, versus Police FC.

Two first-half goals by Maya Matouk and Alexia Ali clinched the title for Unknown.

Front Line Empire of St Ann’s, who were a surprise finalist, having lost two preliminary matches, found their groove in the semi-final, and challenged Who is Next of Plymouth in the men’s final.

Front Line Empire were on the defence for most of the 20-minute final, but heroic goalkeeping and a first-half goal by Noel Williams were enough to settle the result despite the partisan home support.

After a break for two years, due to covid19, national women’s football captain Karyn Forbes, who is the brainchild of the tournament, was happy with the outcome. “It was pretty good,” she said. “I was not expecting so many teams and I am very thankful for the crowd support.

“The tournament is part of my giving back to my community and helping to bridge the gap for youth football, by providing an opportunity for them to play.”

While her vision was interrupted by the pandemic, Forbes is clear about her goals for the competition.

“My aim is to build the tournament into a league that attracts global interest so that foreigners can come to Tobago and experience what we have to offer. With careful succession planning, we can create a product where sponsors will be able to buy into the vision because everybody knows what is needed to improve the standard of football locally, but nobody wants to do the work.”