One of the most skilful of the many talented centre-forwards on display at the CONCACAF Under-15 tournament in the Cayman Islands is undoubtedly Aruba’s Jean-Paul Van Der Linden.
The 15-year-old striker weaved through the porous US Virgin Islands defense six times on Friday as Aruba hammered the mainly novice opposition 10-0. It brought Van Der Linden’s total in the tournament to nine.
“It was a little bit easy because their defense was not so good,” Van Der Linden said in his limited English. “But it made my record.”
He scored 31 for his Aruba club RCA last season and hopes to get try outs for pro clubs when he returns. Ultimate dream is to play for Barcelona, his favorite team.
Fernando Tront is assistant coach on the Aruba team. “Jean-Pierre is a very good player in Aruba and is the striker with the most goals here and there too.
“He is a very good striker and he can succeed in Europe, I think. Aruba is a territory belonging to the Netherlands and we think that football in Europe is the best.
“We teach the boys to play their football like in the Netherlands and the rest of Europe. “
RCA and the Aruba football federation are planning to forge links with top European clubs to enable talent like Van Der Linden’s to flourish.
Tront is mightily impressed with the CONCACAF U-15 tournament which has exposed Van Der Linden to potential scouts. Maybe he won’t have to search around Europe to reach a higher level after all.
“The Cayman Islands is very nice and the tournament is very good,” Tront said. “The organization is excellent and everything is nice for me.
“I hope that CONCACAF repeats it next year and we look forward to the next tournament being better.”