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Four U-20 players selected from the NACTM-T&T Combine in Washington, D.C.

WASHINGTON, DC (April 25, 2022)

Last weekend the North America Caribbean Training Method (NACTM) Soccer Camps held a Combine for elite level players born of Trinidad & Tobago parentage. The Combine featured 46 players between the ages of 14-25 mostly throughout the US and some from various parts of the world. In attendance were Trinidad & Tobago Football Association U-20 and Senior Assistant Head Coach Reynold Carrington and National Team Logistics Manager Basil Thompson. After the Combine concluded, four players were selected to be apart of the 35 player provisional roster for the U-20s, Forwards Tyrell Moore (Powder Springs, Georgia) and Wayne Frederick (Cabin John, Maryland), Midfielder Curtis De Leon (Raleigh, North Carolina), and Defender Noah Roka (Vienna, Austria). Each player was excited when they received the call from Thompson, and each shared a bit more about their experience at the Combine and what they are looking forward to as they hope to make the final 20 player roster to play at the U-20 CONCACAF Qualifiers in Honduras.

Moore, 16, is a current Atlanta United Football Club Academy product, the brother of U.S. National Team Senior player Shaq Moore, son of former Trinidad & Tobago National Team player Wendell Moore, and the nephew of former national team player Richard Goddard. He has excelled at his Academy in Atlanta and thanks them for preparing him for the opportunity to represent the U-20 Trinidad & Tobago National team. When asked about his experience at the Combine, Moore said, “I feel great, I love the opportunity that I have been given. I’ve worked so hard and to see it paying off is a great feeling and makes me even hungrier to get to the new levels”. He even mentioned looking forward to seeing where he stood in relation to international competition and that this will be an experience that will get him to work even harder to become the best player. When asked about following in his father and uncle’s footsteps, he said, “It means a lot, they created a pathway for me to follow. I definitely want to show that I could represent Trinidad & Tobago also. However, I want to create my own pathway by creating my own footsteps.” 

Frederick, 17, is the son of Howard University President Wayne Frederick and both of his parents are from Trinidad & Tobago. He played his youth career at the Bethesda Soccer Club, a prestigious youth club in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area that has produced thousands of youth soccer players for college and professional soccer around the world, and Frederick is another player from the club en route to Duke University this fall. He was also asked about how he felt to be selected to the 35 player provisional roster, “The opportunity to possibly make the roster for the CONCACAF Qualifiers is truly a blessing. I’ve trained really hard over the years to become the best soccer player I could be and all of the hard work is paying off. I am humbled and honored to have the chance to represent Trinidad & Tobago.” Frederick may not have much international playing experience at this time, but he believes that his time at Bethesda playing with and against high level players, will provide him the opportunity to excel at the CONCACAF Qualifiers if selected, “Bethesda has given me great training and plenty of experience playing against some of the best players in the country in the MLS Next league. Certain coaches have truly had a huge impact on how I approach the game and I think that will translate well in playing in an international competition.” 

De Leon, 18, is a product of the North Carolina Football Club Academy where he has played in games for the First team at the United Soccer League (USL) Championship level. He is a rising Sophomore at the University of Alabama-Birmingham, a NCAA Division 1 University, and as a Freshman he appeared in 14 matches, making 13 starts. Last season, he ranked 5th on his team in goals (2), points (5), and shots (10). He also logged 782 minutes as a freshman. De Leon is not related to Nick or Leroy De Leon (to his knowledge), but the last name is very familiar in Trinidad & Tobago footballing circles. He also played in the last U-17 CONCACAF tournament for the Trinidad & Tobago National team prior to the pandemic. When asked about his selection, De Leon mentioned “I am extremely grateful to be selected for the opportunity and I can’t wait to show my capabilities on the field. I am looking forward to representing Trinidad and Tobago on an international stage and also the experience of playing against the best talent other countries have to offer.” Playing at the Division 1 College Soccer level he also believes will prepare him for the CONCACAF Qualifiers. “Division I has a lot of high quality international players which has been a good experience and helped prepare me to play on an international stage.  

Roka, 18, was one of the few international players who flew to D.C. from outside of the country. He currently plays at Austrian club FC Stadlau, and in the 2021/22 season featured in 18 matches in the Wiener Statliga, the 4th Division in the Austrian professional league. Roka’s international experience will be of great benefit to the U-20s and if the team were to qualify for the U-20 World Cup, would pay great dividends against competition from around the world. He was also elated to be chosen to the provisional 35 player roster, Roka said, “First of all I feel very proud that I was selected. There were so many great players in Washington and the training was very intense. Everybody gave their best. After the two days I did think that I might have a chance to get selected. The waiting time for the call from Basil Thompson was thrilling. Now that I got the message, I just feel extremely happy.” 

Despite living in Austria full time, born from an Austrian father and Trinbagonian mother, he is very familiar with Trinidad & Tobago having visited the country several times over the years. Whenever Roka would visit Tobago, he would train at the St. Claire’s Coaching School, and he even took part in tournaments with the school outside of the Caribbean. He has also trained with the U-17 national team in the past and hopes to see many of the players who he trained with at the 35 player provisional camp. He remains excited to not just meet his national team teammates, but also to compete against other countries in the CONCACAF region. He also hopes that his professional playing experience since 16, will help him at the Qualifiers if he is selected to make the roster. “Since 2019, I have been playing in the men’s team at FC Stadlau where the experience has giving me the possibility to experience a faster and tougher game than I would have in the youth league. This year’s championship is still running and intense and my team is also in the Vienna-Cup-final in May. I hope to get a lot more appearances in the upcoming games to get ready for the CONCACAF tournament in Honduras.” 

The Combine marked the first of its kind in Washington, D.C. as several previous Combines for the Trinidad & Tobago National Team had taken place in the past in Brooklyn, New York in 2014 and Atlanta, Georgia in 2017. Many spectators in attendance raved about the fact that this particular Combine was professionally executed, and Saturday brought the country’s culture together behind football as the Trinidad & Tobago Association of Washington, D.C. hosted the off field activities with PanMasters performing along with music by Bing the Boogie Man. There was a food truck along with an area to sell NACTM merchandise. Director of Camps Justin Reid mentioned, “We have heard so many great reviews about the Combine and we must thank our partners DC Parks and Recreation for providing the Edgewood Recreation Center which made our lives ten times easier by providing a location with a great turf field, gym, meeting areas. Edgewood is one of the best and newest locations in the city, so we were happy to host the Combine here.”  

The NACTM will mark the Combine as an annual event and use it as a way to connect the Trinbagonian community on the islands, with Trinbagonians in North America and Europe. Reid believes there to be a bit of a disconnect between those living in Trinidad & Tobago and expats abroad, so he hopes that this annual event in addition to the NACTM’s mission to connect with football administrators and leaders in Trinidad & Tobago will help to bridge that gap. “We want the football administrators in the Caribbean to know that they have an ally here in the U.S. Our mission is to help better football in the Caribbean, so we were happy that we were able to launch our 1st ever Caribbean ID Camp with the Trinidad & Tobago Football Association coaches and staff.

There is a huge difference in the CONCACAF region between the US, Mexico, Canada and the Caribbean. Too many times with these CONCACAF qualifiers, we see scores between the North American and the Caribbean national teams like 22-0 and 19-0. Just look at this weekend and the U-17 women’s game between the U.S. and Grenada where the score was 19-0 and it seems like no one cares that to be the outcome. Well we care. Being on the receiving end of a lopsided defeat like that can be demoralizing to players and it is just an embarrassment to the Caribbean Federation. If I were the president or apart of the technical staff of Grenada or any staff who lost that badly, then I would be very much ashamed. We all know that the talent at least in female soccer is here in North America, and we have so many kids playing youth soccer of Caribbean parentage. It is time that the Caribbean FAs take a serious look into investing into programs like the NACTM who have a program like the Caribbean ID Camps to cater to players of Caribbean parentage, and in the case of some Caribbean countries, grand-parentage. The players are there, but we need more FAs to take their scouting seriously and not just accept player recommendations from any and everyone, and to stop doing favors for friends of friends whose kids play soccer. Lets give each high level player a fair shot and that is what we did at our Combine. We raised the standard.”

Reid also mentioned that it also helped to have Senior national team players Radanfah Abu Bakr and John Paul-Rochford in attendance to speak with the players at the end of the Combine. As an organization we are here to supplement football in the Caribbean by providing an expanded pool of players, and we hope that more administrators will open up to the alliance.” The next NACTM-T&T Combine will be held April 8-9, 2023.     

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