Tyrese Bailey of Police FC, front, screens Joshua Evans of Real West Fort United, in an Ascension League match at the Police Barracks, St James. File photo
POLICE FC want to display a higher level of football and pride when the inaugural Trinidad and Tobago Premier Football League (TTPFL) kicks off on Friday at the Mahaica Complex, Point Fortin.
Police begin their season on March 17 with a clash against W Connection at Police Barracks, St James.
Founded in 1975, the club has become an attractive institution for footballers to bolster their careers as officers with footballing talent. They were a part of the TT Pro League, which preceded the TTPFL as the country’s top-flight competition.
They had also competed in the TT National League and the TT Semi Professional League, the top-flight leagues from 1974 to 1995 and 1996 to 1998, respectively.
Police FC won the TT National League on three occasions (1979, 1991 and 1994) and were champions of the First Citizens Cup in 2019. They were also finalists in the 1991 Concacaf Champions Cup (now known as the Concacaf Champions League), but were defeated 4-2 on aggregate by Mexican team Puebla. That result is their best result in a continental competition to date.
Now managed by Richard Hood, the “law men’had a creditable third-place finish in the 2022 Ascension Tournament, behind winners La Horquetta Rangers and Defence Force.
Hood will rally his troops once more in an attempt to be the inaugural champions of the TTPFL and book a place in next season’s Concacaf Champions League. The top two teams will qualify for the Concaaf Champions League.
The Police boss said he and his team are excited, and are looking forward to getting back on the pitch and playing football at an elite level. He said, “We played in the Ascension Tournament last year and that was a welcomed (initiative) to the football fraternity but, of course, that was not the actual (top-flight) league.”
“So it’s really good to get back on the pitch against these professional teams and test ourselves.”
Hood is aiming for a strong start in the league, especially as the inaugural season will be condensed – March to June – to meet Concacaf’s regulations.
The team boasts players from the TT’s national team such as goalkeeping veteran Adrian Foncette, and former TT U-17 captain – now senior team player – Jabari Mitchell, who will be expected to lead the team towards their targets in this campaign.
Gabriel Nanton, Tyrese Bailey and Simeon Bailey – who all stood out in the Ascension Tournament – will also be players to watch for the law men.
Hood said it was no secret that their goal is to qualify for the Concacaf Champions League and return to the competitive level that the club enjoyed in the 1990s. “We want to bring a higher level of pride to the police service and the fans within it,” he said.
Mitchell said his role this season is very important. “I think, going forward, the younger players will continue to look up to the senior players. So our attitude and form will be very critical to achieve what we want to accomplish this season.”
He added, “We did well in the Ascension Tournament. However, this season is much more important because there is the Caribbean Football Union (CFU) Club Championship and the Concacaf Champions League at stake, so we need to be more focused than we were in the Ascension Tournament. I would like us to take what we did in that competition and add more this season.”
On a personal level, Mitchell said he is keen to make a greater impact in the final of the field and secure his national team spot. He said providing assists comes natural to him but he wants to add goalscoring to his repertoire.
He said the TTPFL is important for the local-based players as the foreign-based players have been active in professional football, which gives them the edge. Mitchell believes that the league will provide local players with better opportunities to be called up to the national team.