Turks & Caicos Islands (pictured) gathers for a team photo prior to its CONCACAF Beach Soccer Championship opener against El Salvador on February 21, 2017, in Nassau, Bahamas. (Photo: Victor Straffon/Straffon Images)
NASSAU, Bahamas – In its 2017 CONCACAF Beach Soccer Championship opener on Tuesday, youthful Turks & Caicos Islands fell to 9-2 to experienced El Salvador.
Head coach Christopher Bryan, however, was not overly surprised or disappointed by the setback. After all, his brought an extremely young side to the Bahamas and promising goalkeeper Pendieno Brooks is just 16-years-old
There is a bigger picture in Bryan’s mind. He’s on a mission to build a team that -- in the coming years – can be a force with which to be reckoned. That’s why the Turks & Caicos Islands Football Association is investing in its youth.
“We kept to the game plan, made a mistake and they scored and then got a quick second goal in the first period, but I was satisfied how we played,” said Bryan after the El Salvador encounter. “Then, we came to the second period and I think we caused them a bit of problems and we scored to make it 2-1 and it kind of woke them up a bit not to take us lightly.”
Bryan commented that his side continued to play well after scoring, but faded towards the end of the second period as a result of a lack of experience and not being as fit as the Salvadorans.
“They knocked a few goal in and after that it was kind of damage limitation for us,” he remarked. “We are a very young team, our average age is about 19, our goalkeeper just turned 16 in January, and I think he had an awesome game.”
Bryan shared his philosophy on the program: “This is a young program, but we’re starting with youth. We’re not starting with older players and then try to convert them to beach soccer. We’re starting with youth and then bringing them through to love the game and excel at beach soccer.”
The 56-year-old, a former Turks & Caicos international in the grass and sand versions of the sport, was hoping for a closer result, but the score was the score.
“We’re going to come out and play positive. Our heads are going to be up,” he finished. “We’re quite a good technical team. We struggled to show that today because they were closing us down so quickly. They’re strong. El Salvador is extremely strong and we didn’t have a chance to show anything on the ball, but as the games go on, you’ll see a much stronger technical aspect of Turks and Caicos.”