Check out my interview with recently appointed Dominica boss, Rajesh Latchoo, who talks about football development on the island and what he hopes to achieve in his role…
The Trinidadian was named as Shane Marshall’s successor at a press conference in early March after the Dominica FA carried out a nine-month search for the vacant post. Latchoo took time out of his schedule to answer my questions and you can read what he has to say below.
Tell me a little bit about your background in football, and your time in Trinidad & Tobago…
“I played amateur youth football with my home club PTYSS and School SSC. I gave up the academic option of pursuing Mechanical engineering to pursue a career in sport and started with the Art and science of coaching at the University of West Indies, Trinidad. This enhanced my ability as a coach and I then went on to do higher level football courses through the SFA and the TTFF (at that time). Eventually God presented me with the opportunity to work with some of the top coaches and players at both youth and senior level at Joe Public (2005-2012), Caledonia AIA (2013-2017) and national senior women (2011-2014, 2016) and U17 women teams (2014-2015). I was also a coach educator instructor for the TTFA coaching courses C’ and D’ Licences (2011-2015).”
How does it feel to be manager of the Dominica national team?
“It is a welcomed new challenge to help Dominica improve its football. I am grateful to God for opportunity to help this country grow.”
Are you in charge of just the male selection or female as well? Senior or other age groups?
“The male senior team is my priority. I am also a consultant to the DFA on all other national team matters.”
Is it just you in charge or have you got backroom staff and assistant coaches to offer support in your role?
“I have background staff, most of who worked with the last team. They are very reliable, efficient, supportive and committed.”
Are there any things that have impressed you or disappointed you that you’ve seen since arriving on the island?
“I’ve been impressed with the willingness of the players to learn, their commitment and talent are very good; the willingness of the DFA to get things done within their means have been very good; the cooperation of the staff; the rich community spirit and physical strength of the people. However, I’ve been disappointed with the lack of proper training surfaces and venues; not being able to use the national stadium due to the many cricket games.”
How are preparations going for the Windward Islands Championship scheduled for later this month? Are you and the team confident of performing well at the tournament?
“The preparations for the Windward Islands Championship are coming along okay. The players are learning and will be ready. We will also be using this tournament as preparation for the CONCACAF League of Nations in 2018.”
Will the Dominica squad predominantly be made up of domestic-based players?
“The 30-man training squad has already been announced and the final 20 players will be selected a week before the tournament starts. The squad will predominantly be local-based players.”
There are only a few Dominican internationals playing their football overseas. Why is that do you think? What more can be done to get more players playing professionally?
“We are presently preparing players for trials abroad. The DFA have recently gotten two players – Kelrick Walters and Rufuson Pierre Louis – stints in the TT Pro League. We expect two more players to be going out after the Windward Islands Championship.”
There are several UK-born players with heritage in Dominica who have either played for the country before or are eligible to represent them. Whilst you are at the helm, will you consider calling up any players from the diaspora, particularly in the UK?
“Of course. We will always be looking for the best team to represent Dominica whether the players are playing locally or overseas. We have started our research already and will be inviting them later this year to a camp and friendly international along with the local-based players.”
What are the football-specific facilities like in Dominica?
“The only football-specific facility is still being developed and incomplete.”
How long is your contract with the Dominica FA? 1 year, 2 years, 3 years, 4 years? Are you expecting to stay for Qatar 2022 qualification?
“I will be here as long as I continue to do my job successfully.”
Have Dominica got any friendlies arranged for the rest of this year or indeed for 2018?
“As mentioned earlier we will be having friendly international games. The dates and teams are still tentative.” [Dominica drew 2-2 in an away friendly to Guadeloupe on 24th May, Julian Wade netted both goals for the visitors]
Finally, what is the vision for Dominican football whilst you are in charge? Any particular objectives that you want to achieve? Projects and programmes you want to implement?
“I want to improve the attitude of the players towards training and their work ethic. I want to improve their knowledge base tactically and holistically. I want to improve the playing style and the results of the team (thus improving the FIFA rankings). And I want to have at least 10 players playing professionally in 2018.”
By Nathan Carr
Thank you for reading! Feel free to leave any constructive feedback in the comments box below. Big up to Rajesh for taking the time to answer my questions. You can check out the Dominica FA website here. Meanwhile, you can get in touch with me on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.