On the invitation of TT Pro League outfit Central FC, English League One club Walsall FC will visit Trinidad and Tobago for a one week tour in July as part of the English side’s pre-season.
Walsall will spend four nights in Tobago, with two matches—one being against a Pro League XI, then on July 9 at Ato Boldon Stadium the England League One club will compete against hosts Central FC.
“We are delighted to be hosting Walsall, who ended their season with only one loss in their last 19 games,” said Central FC managing director and former England based footballer, Brent Sancho. “It’s a real pleasure to be able to bring an English club to the Central region and give our youngsters the opportunity to test themselves.”
A press release by Central on Friday stated: “The Sharks are yet to release a complete itinerary as (the club is) still negotiating with sponsors.” But the club expects to give full details of the itinerary by next week.
The club stated that it is still looking for sponsors to cover some aspects of the tour.
Sancho elaborated, “We’ve covered most of the costs of bringing over Walsall, but we now want to make sure their visit is unforgettable. We intend to invite teams from Europe every year to play for a Central FC trophy. The name of the trophy will be chosen by the sponsor. We feel this can only raise the awareness overseas of the TT Pro League and give a boost to our sports tourism industry.
“The visit of Walsall has been magnificently supported by TT Pro League CEO, Dexter Skeene. As soon as we mentioned the possibility of a visit by a British club, Dexter was really supportive. I believe he joins us in seeing this as a great opportunity to test the current level of Pro League football and to give some of our youngsters a chance to put themselves in the market place overseas.”
Sancho expects the visit by Walsall, last season’s 9th position League One finishers, to be extremely beneficial to both coaches and players. The ex-League One club former T&T goalkeeper Clayton Ince is expected to travel to with a 20-man squad and eight (8) club officials.
Sancho said Central FC has also been liaising with Trinidad and Tobago Football Association Technical Director Anton Corneal for Walsall’s Head Coach Dean Smith and his staff to host a coaching seminar, as well as a coaching clinic for youths.
“It’s important that we gain as much as possible from the visit of Walsall,” said Sancho.
“We hope that players and coaches will benefit from an exchange of ideas with the Walsall staff in all areas including physiotherapy, nutrition and pre match preparation.”
Part of the arrangement will see Central staff having full access to the Walsall camp.
Sancho explained, “Dean Smith is a good friend of our Operations Director, Kevin Harrison. As such, Dean has agreed to allow our staff to attend all training sessions and we will be loaning five (5) of our young players to Walsall for the week. This type of experience is unimaginable for our young players and we are certain that it will only increase their level of professionalism as well as their desire to play overseas.
“Walsall were unfortunate to miss out on the playoffs last season, but I’m convinced they will be in or around the promotion spots at the end of this season” said Sancho. “Dean Smith is an up and coming manager who was awarded League 1 Manager of the Month in January. I know (Central FC Head Coach) Terry Fenwick is licking his lips in anticipation of taking an English League One scalp, so it will be a great contest!”