Carlos Edwards first entered the spotlight on the local football stage during his playing days as a member of the St Anthony’s College team in the Secondary Schools Football League.
His first taste of success came at the 1997 Intercol when he helped the Westmoorings “Tigers” to the National title in a 1-0 victory over then favourites St Benedict’s College before a packed crowd at the Queen’s Park Oval. Edwards and former national team striker Nigel “Pistol” Pierre were both members of the team coached by Nigel Grosvenor.
In this edition of SSFL Graduates, Edwards tells us how playing in the SSFL helped prepare him for his life as a professional footballer.
“Some of my best days of playing the game at home here in Trinidad and Tobago came during the Intercol or the SSFL seasons when I played for St Anthony’s College.
“I always had a love for the game but during my time at St Anthony’s was when I really began to take the game seriously and there was a real love that developed. When you realise how popular the league was, we were pulling bigger crowds than regular senior men football and every week we were playing in front of hundred and sometimes thousands of people even in the regular league matches. And once Intercol came around well that was a whole different story,” Edwards said.
“I remember when we played the Final of the Intercol it was a the biggest thing happening in the country that day. There were thousands of people coming from south to support St Benedict’s and we were the underdogs but people came out. I remember the Oval was packed out because there were people all on the track at the time and the Carib stand was full of supporters. After we won that game I think I can safely say that was the memorable final I ever played in this country,” said the 38-year-old Edwards whhas made 97 appearances for Trinidad and Tobago.
The former 2006 T&T World Cup player played professionally for Defence Force before moving on to play for Sunderland in the English Premiership as well as other clubs such as Wrexham where he lined up alongside current T&T head coach Dennis Lawrence, a former player with Malick Senior Comprehensive; Luton Town, Ipswich Town, Millwall and Wolverhampton Wanderers. His career in England and Wales spanned just under fifteen years. In 2011, he was named Ipswich Town captain and was later named the Players’ “Player of the Year” for the 2011/2012 season. While at Wrexham, he was named in the PFA’s Third Division “Team of the Year” on two occasions. in 2007, his 80th minute winner against Burnley confirmed Sunderland’s promotion to the Premiership.
His first club after coming out of St Anthony’s was Queen’s Park Cricket Club before he joined the Defence Force, going on to win the Pro League title in 1999.
“I will encourage any player who is seeing football as a career to give it a go at the Secondary Schools Football League. Things have changed a lot since my time but I still think the Colleges league plays a significant part in a player in terms of his love for the game and his early development. If you look at a lot of the players who have gone on to do great things such as Russell Latapy, Stern John, Shaka Hislop, Dwight Yorke and more and then players in the spotlight today such as Kevin Molino and Kenwyne Jones, they all passed through the SSFL.
“Of course more can be done in terms of development and that is there the football powers have to bridge the gap with the SSFL to ensure we have the right system in place to go places. We have to ensure we do not miss players who may fall through the cracks after the schools season comes to end But like I said, the SSFL was a big avenue for me and it helped me to develop an appetite for the game and prepare me for my career that followed.