By Loshaun Dixon
Basseterre, St. Kitts-Technical Director of the St. Kitts Nevis Football Association (SKNFA) Lenny Lake is looking back at the Federation’s performance at the recently concluded CONCACAF U20 Championships stating that the competition was a learning process for football in St. Kitts and Nevis.
St. Kitts and Nevis lost 5-1, 4-0 and 4-1 to Haiti Panama and the USA respectively in the competition won by the USA.
In an exclusive interview with The Observer. Mr. Lake said getting to that competition with the CONCACAF’s elite was a great achievement in itself for St. Kitts and Nevis.
“It is the second time we have made it there and it took us ten years to get there again. One of the things that we must be proud about this program is that 10 years ago when we started the group stage we got knocked out,” he said.
Lake noted that since qualifying in the competition in 2007 the team would always fall short in reaching that level once again and for them to do so this time around shows progress.
“There would have been progression as far as the U20 program and I am very proud of that because sometimes we have a programme and you get nothing from it no success, no improvement,” he declared.
He added that most individuals were looking at the scores from the CONCACAF tournament and though he admitted nothing was wrong with that, what was more important was wha6t was learnt.
“I journeyed there to look at the team play not only in matches but more looking at the program and its closeness to the level that is in the Central and North America and to look at what needs to be done to improve the U20 if we are to get there again. As the technical director I look at the next four years,” he said.
Lake said while the results could have been better it is all part of the learning process.
“I really don’t think that a team with such limited resources and a team for the first time getting at that level and playing so many high level matches with players who are new and local staff who practice their craft here and going there for the first time is a tremendous achievement,” he said.
He added that one major lessoned learedt during the competition is that more needs to be done in preparing the team.
“The team must be able to be put under immense pressure, playing high quality matches and analyse these matches and when you look at these top countries they play well over 20 something matches in preparation for this level and we played one match,” he said.
Lake said the clubs that these players come from have a significant role to play in their development.
“At the SKNFA we have to look at the environment of the clubs and how we can develop the environment of the clubs to assist in the development of the players at the next level. I think there is too much work at the national level in such a short period of time,” he said.
He also commended the coaching staff whom he said were courageous in selecting a team filled with 90% of local talent.
“They didn’t seek the services of foreign players like we have done in the past. It makes a big stat met that some of the things we have implemented is producing the talent so that we could walk on the field with Mexico and the USA,” he said.
The Technical director also call on the entire Caribbean region to reassess their performances as no one from the Caribbean were able to get out of the group stage.
“We must look at what we are doing, we must change what we are doing if we are going to compete with the Central and North American countries and I do believe it is a wonderful opportunities for our players and is a chance for us to plan for the next four years,” he stated.
“There were one or two persons who were asking questions…and I think there might have been one or two interest. I cannot tell you any details of the outcome of them but I am sure they would have had the opportunity to speak to persons who had interest.”
As it relates to the future of these players Lake indicated that the spine of this team would now be transitioned into the U23 team who will soon be engaged in competition.
“The U23 Qualifiers should begin next year, so these players are a year out before they are in their next competition. These players are our next Olympic team and I am happy we have such a wonderful group we can work with,” he said.