Professional football in Trinidad and Tobago is on the cusp of a new and exciting phase of its evolution says Digicel TT Pro League CEO Dexter Skeene.
The former St Mary's College intercol standout and Columbia University All American remains resolute, optimistic and enthusiastic about the future of the TT Pro League." We have retained corporate partner portfolio for the upcoming season. All the key performance indicators point to a strong 2011/2012 season for the TT Pro League. There is strategic clarity as it relates to the critical success factors. The TT Pro League has a golden opportunity to really kick on from here. There are challenges and threats but by the same token there are opportunities."
Following a decision by the TT Pro League board of directors to support a proposal made by Skeene that the Digicel Pro League align its season with the European season, the new season will begin on Friday 12 August 2011 and runs till the end of May 2012.
Skeene commended the Ministry of Sport and Minister Roberts for recognizing and appreciating that the TT Pro League is in reality pioneering a new industry and business sector in the domestic economy.
"Over the years our discussions with Government has always been premised on the basis of investing and supporting a new business sector- professional sport and sport tourism- . I am encouraged that the change in government did not have a negative implication for the Pro League's dream and vision of establishing and developing a professional sport sector. Football is the pioneer, the flagship. Other sports, in time, can build on football's success. If a professional football league cannot survive and thrive, then the dream of a sport tourism and business sector is unrealistic. I remain convinced that it is a realistic aspiration"
Skeene was adamant that the TT Pro League must not engage current and potential partners as if asking for hand outs or donations. The core message is financial viability and self sufficiency, by building market share.
According to the former strike squad forward the Digicel TT Pro League is targeting broader media, Internet and social media coverage via its website www.ttproleague.com, face book and you tube, twitter and local cable channel WI Sports .
"There is a growing interest in the League's clubs and players from international football markets. The challenge the League will now face is in building the business and commercial capacity of the current clubs. To be quite honest, the current group of club owners has done yeoman service to the dream and vision of professional football and the developing of a viable professional football sector. But to really build on the foundation and opportunities clubs must become more business and marketing savvy. The League as a separate entity can build the macro strategic operating environment and framework. It is really up to the clubs to build their respective business models and capacity so as to attract investors. Professional football is a business and clubs that do not have the appropriate business and commercial infrastructure will not survive." said Skeene.
Skeene also pointed to an improvement in the quality of the football produced by the league's current clubs.
"The competitiveness in the league has improved. Last season Defence Force returning to the top of local football by winning the Digicel Pro League Championship, Caledonia AIA of Morvant/Laventille finishing its best ever position in runner-up and both qualifying for the Caribbean Football Union (CFU) Club Championship. In the knockout competitions DIRECTV North East Stars returning to the fold after a season absence won the Lucozade Sport Goal Shield and reached two other finals, while Joe Public picked up two titles in the First Citizens Cup and Digicel Pro Bowl and Ma Pau SC the Toyota Classic and San Juan Jabloteh the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association FA Trophy." added Skeene
Off the pitch North East Stars made significant head way in building its relationship with its community through noteworthy social projects with visits to Children’s Home, Schools and churches in Sangre Grande and environs..
Other projects by the Sangre Grande based club included Domestic Violence and Safe Sex awareness and the refurbishment of the Chaguanas Home for the Elderly, a Christmas treat and football tournament for small teams in the north-eastern districts.
Ma Pau SC, St. Ann’s Rangers, Joe Public, Defence Force and FC SouthEnd were other clubs that chipped in with social projects in 2010-2011.
Last season also saw the rise of coaches such as Shurland David of North East Stars and Rajesh Latchoo of Joe Public who celebrated a title each under their belts and former players such as Arnold Dwarika, Angus Eve, Kevin Jeffrey, Brent Sancho(North East Stars) and Reynold Carrington(W Connection) involved in management and coaching.
The League also had Devorn Jorsling(Defence Force) and Kevin Molino(Ma Pau SC) joining USL club Orlando City and Lester Peltier(Ma Pau) joining Slovak First League club AS Trenčín following the season.