Che Benny off to Sweden for AIK trial as Rangers cry foul

Keeda Pantin, brand communications coordinator and events specialist at Flow, presents St. Ann’s Rangers U17 midfielder Che Benny with the Flow Youth Pro League March and April Player of the Month awards at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva on June 3, 2017. (Photo courtesy Flow)

St. Ann’s Rangers midfield prodigy Che Benny has left for a 10-day trial at Sweden’s Allsvenskan (top division) club Allmänna Idrottsklubben, better known as AIK.

Benny, 16, left Trinidad on Monday—four days earlier than planned—and will join AIK, one of the powerhouses of Sweden football, on Saturday.

Meanwhile Benny’s current club, Rangers, who he joined seven years ago, are left with the bitter taste of “disrespect”.

“I am upset with the whole scenario,” said Rangers chairman Richard Fakoory. “The club (AIK) never wrote us. Our club had no input. This was done through his agent in Trinidad with no information really coming to us. This is a disrespect to the club.

“Benny told me on Saturday he was leaving for trial in Sweden. He is always in my office and we have a good relationship. But nothing was done properly through whoever is advising him. It’s just very shady.

“He travelled alone to Antigua, then to England and then maybe he'd take a train ride or whatever, I don’t know, to Sweden. Who cares about this 16-year-old? What if something goes wrong? Will they then contact us formally?”

Last May, Benny enjoyed a VIP tour of Manchester United and witnessed his idol, Spain’s Juan Mata in action for the England Premier League club, after topping the 2017 Flow Ultimate Football Experience challenge. But his visit at AIK will be Benny’s first try-out at a foreign club.

Fakoory also questioned the readiness of the Trinidad and Tobago Under-17 footballer, who, last February, became the youngest player (age 16) to score a top-flight double in the Pro League during a 3-3 draw with Club Sando.

“I think it’s too early,” added the Rangers boss. “(…) don’t get me wrong: I think he will be great player, but needs a bit more polishing with another year competitively in the Pro League (senior division).”

AIK, currently fifth on the Allsvenskan standings but tied on points with third and fourth Sirius and Osterund, are based at the largest football stadium in the Nordic countries, Friends Arena. They were league champions eleven times, winning their last in 2009, and holds the record for having played the most seasons in the Swedish top flight.
​St. Ann's Rangers midfielder Che Benny, centre, tries to weave past two San Juan Jabloteh opponents during the 2017 Flow Youth Pro League.
Benny’s mother, Creisha Lee-Look told today that she understands Fakoory’s reason for being “upset”.

“Che is with Rangers since he was very small,” Lee-Look added. “…and I am sorry how things [unfolded]. But it wasn’t intentional. I tried contacting Mr. Fakoory [by phone and was unsuccessful]. But I did mention to (team administrator) Jason Spence and (Benny’s Under-17 coach Everett Williams) ‘Rocket’ that Benny would be going on trial in Sweden.”

Lee-Look said that arrangements were done through Benny’s agent Dane Mapp and a foreign contact who had seen video footage of the 16-year-old Rangers player. She said Benny’s uncle and advisor, Kevin Villafana, also endorsed that the teenager attempt a move to Europe.

Mapp confirmed that Benny’s trial will begin on Sunday.

Rangers meanwhile, must do without the talented midfielder for a second time in five days when they face North East Stars from 4pm at the Arima Velodrome on Saturday.

However action in the Pro League resumes on Friday with a double-header at the Ato Boldon Stadium with Club Sando against Police FC from 6pm, preceding a top-of-table clash between leaders San Juan Jabloteh and W Connection from 8pm.

The Ato Boldon Stadium will come alive again on Tuesday with Defence Force and Point Fortin Civic in battle from 6pm and Morvant Caledonia United taking on three-time league holders Central FC from 8pm.

Pro League 2017
Round One Match Day Five fixtures
(Friday 7 July 2017)
Ato Boldon Stadium
Club Sando vs Police FC—6pm
W Connection vs San Juan Jabloteh—8pm

(Saturday 8 July 2017)
Arima Velodrome
MIC-IT St. Ann’s Rangers vs North East Stars—4pm

(Tuesday 11 July 2017)
Ato Boldon Stadium
Defence Force vs Point Fortin Civic—6pm
Morvant Caledonia United vs Central FC—8pm.