Clayton Morris, former captain of the T&T senior men’s football team from the 1989 era, on Friday joined his coach of that year, Everald “Gally” Cummings, as an inductee in the First Citizens Sports Foundation Hall of Fame. Cummings was inducted back in 1987.
On November 19, two-and-a-half decades ago, Morris led the Strike Squad—the name the national team was fondly called then—in a World Cup qualifying match against the United States at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Mucurapo. When the final whistle was blown, the match went in favour of the visitors. But that defeat spurred future athletes to work even harder and qualify for the World Cup, which was realised in an away game against Bahrain for FIFA World Cup Germany 2006.
However, Morris was not the only footballer taking the spotlight on the night. Former national captain Angus Eve, as well as celebrated striker Stern John was also in line for kudos. Inductees in the Hall of Fame were nominated on five categories: cricket, football, horse racing, netball and track and field.
Douglas L Barzey was honoured posthumously for his contribution to track and field in T&T, while Bridget Adams got the nod for netball. Having won close to $17 million worth of prizes for the owners of the horses he rode, Brian Harding naturally deserved a place in the annals of horse racing.
Cricket, however, boasted the largest field of candidates for honours—five in total. The recipients were former T&T captain Daren Ganga, former West Indies Women’s captain Stephanie Power, ex-president of the T&T Cricket Board Louise Browne-Jackson, Rangy Nanan and Bryan Davis.
Eve, 43, said being inducted into the Hall of Fame, was the furthest thing from his mind, citing that when it came to being in receipt of many “man-made” honours, he was no favourite. Having bowed out of the national spotlight, he remained vibrant in sport in his community of Carenge. He had a Foundation and worked specifically with the districts youths, while serving as president of the football, netball and cricket clubs.
“I have never been recognised like this, not even from the TTFA (T&T Football Association). I am the most capped (national) player. I never had a plaque or anything to show. I remember they had a 100-year dinner almost three years ago, and I wasn’t even invited to that as the most capped player.
There are no free tickets to a game or anything like that. So for me to have this award was a total surprise. I think God give people what they deserve at the end. My joy is seeing players move on. Seven of the players who played in the game (T&T vs USA), this week, I coached them from Jabloteh…the youth level. That is the reward for me really…to see the impact that you have made. This award was a total surprise to me,” Eve said.
“Credit to the FC Sports Foundation for honouring us. Ato Boldon, Daren Ganga: all of us are around the same age. So, it shows you don’t have to die to be recognised. It’s a good thing for the kids to see, and the kids to see from my neighbourhood.
Carengae is designated one of the ‘hot-spots’ and for me to come out of that area and make something of myself, it shows that other people can do it. I am supposed to go back and use what I learnt, give back, so that they could come forward and emulate the things that I continue to do. I am inducted as a player now, but I want to be inducted as a coach, too.”
Interviewed, former national netballer Bridget Adams expressed delight that the sport was still bringing joy to T&T, although it had been some time since this country won a world championship title.
“It means that all the efforts, my accolades, and all that I have earned in netball did not go unnoticed. The ultimate was this award–being inducted into the FC Sports Foundation Hall of Fame. I know that I have done a lot for netball, but I am not the one to tap myself on the ,shoulder and say, yes, you have done a lot! I am happy that others were able to recognise it and hence the reason I am awarded today. I’m really, really, grateful for that,” she said.
“What gratifies me is that there are a lot of young people now gravitating to the sport but still there is not enough. What aches me though, is that sponsors are not coming on board to assist with the development of the sports and not enough funding is pumped into netball.
And, it is the only sport–team sport that is–that has put T&T on the map and that has won a world tournament, yet still netball is treated so slightly. But it gratifies me to see that a lot of young people still gravitate towards the sport and that UTT (University of T&T) is now able to offer scholarships for netballers and they can earn a degree or diploma as the case may be.”
Cricket: Bryan Davis, Daren Ganga, Louise Browne-Jackson, Rangy Nanan CMT, Stephanie Power
Football: Stern John, Angus Eve, Clayton Morris
Horse Racing: Brian Harding
Netball: Bridget Adams
Track and Field: Douglas L Barzey (Posthumous)
Ex-athletes humbled by Hall of Fame induction
T&T Newsday Reports.
HUMBLED WAS the feeling that virtually all of the 11 inductees had, as they entered the First Citizens Sports Foundation Hall of Fame on Friday evening in a gala ceremony at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, Port-of-Spain.
The inductees were Stern John, Angus Eve, Clayton Morris (football), Daren Ganga, Bryan Davis, Rangy Nanan, Stephanie Power, Louise Browne-Jackson (cricket), Brian Harding (horse racing), Bridget Adams (netball) and the late Douglas Barzey (administration).
Another Hall of Famer, Ato Boldon, delivered the feature address in which he spoke about his post-track and field career, and his development of ace teenaged sprinter Kalifa St Fort.
But the spotlight was on the greats who joined Boldon, and 180 others in the Hall of Fame.
John, in terms of goal-scoring, is TT’s most successful footballer, having netted 70 goals in 115 internationals – remarkably joint- 10th among all international players.
About his award, John said after the ceremony, “it’s a fantastic feeling to be honoured in Trinidad and Tobago.
“You’ve done a lot for Trinidad and Tobago and there are a lot of people who came before you and who are going to come after you.
It’s a great feeling for my family.
I wish my mom was alive to be here.” Referring to his mother Janet, as well as the influence from his family, John noted, “my mom was my number one supporter. Every time I scored she used to take a drink of brandy. She wasn’t a big drinker but that special occasion she used to drink. She played a major part in my upbringing and in the way I am today.” He added, “I come from a sporting background, because Marc Burns is my cousin and my uncle played cricket for Trinidad and Tobago – Alec Burns.”
As far as the Hall of Fame award is concerned, John said, “it’s very nice to know that people appreciate what you do for your country and in the world. People recognise you when you’re passed and, to get this recognition now, it’s really great for me.” He continued, “I’m in the twilight of my career.
I’ve retired (from internationals) but I just play some games (with Saddle Hill Hotspur in the Super League). I’m now coaching the younger kids in Trinidad and it’s an honour for the younger kids to see what I’ve done and I can pass on my experience.” John’s former TT teammate Eve holds the record for the most international appearances for the twin-island republic with 118.
“It’s an honour,” Eve said. “It’s one of the greatest achievements for me. No money could compare to (this), to know that you’ve been recognised for the work you have done, and continue to do.”
He reflected, “when I first started to play football, I never thought it would have (led) to something like this. I was just playing for the fun, the joy and the passion of the sport. To be actually honoured for it and to be recognised in (this) way, I thank God for blessing me with the ability and talent, to be a part of this whole thing.”
Eve, who is currently the coach of both St Ann’s Rangers and Naparima College teams, pointed out, “my mom, my dad, to have them here to witness this moment with me, my kids and my wife, it just makes it a bit more special.”
About the roles his relatives played in his development, Eve noted, “my dad (Patrick) used to take me to the field, my mom Bernadette Eve was always the one who used to support and be the driving force behind me. Now my wife Carla and my kids Kevin, Kelsee, Shania and Seth, they have been very instrumental in making me the person that I am today.”
Harding, whose career as a jockey from 1982-2012 saw him capture 10 local Champion Jockey awards, as well as become the first TT rider to race 1,000 winners locally, commented, “I feel very happy. I never thought about it, I never had that on my mind but when it came, I felt very elated.”
About the notification, he stated, “I got a call that I was inducted into the Hall of Fame and I was like ‘oh my God’. I couldn’t believe it.”
Harding went on to state, “this is a very big achievement. I don’t know if I’ll ever get any more awards from any other place, but I thank God (that) I achieved that.”
Harding is currently an assistant trainer to Harriram Gobin.“It’s still coming along,” he said.
“It’s a different procedure. Riding, as a jockey, you just ride and you go home. Being a trainer, you have to be 24/7.”
Asked if this achievement spur him on to greater things, he replied, “you’ll never know what happens down the road. Probably, you never know.”