Angus Eve, Trinidad and Tobago’s all-time most capped player and First Citizens Sports Foundation Hall of Famer, is firm in his belief that the Trinidad and Tobago Pro League is “a massive benefit” to the twin-island republic.
The 45-year-old Eve, who is in his second season as Club Sando head coach, said that he, and many others like him, owe their lives to football through the existence of Pro League clubs, and that Government and corporate Trinidad and Tobago should realise the significance of the professional league.
“The existence of the Pro League has always been tremendous in the development of my family life,” said the Carenage-born father-of-four.
“A young man coming from Carenage – one of the areas considered a ‘hot spot’ – I can tell you most of my friends were not law abiding.”
Eve said with the support of his parents and later guidance from former Trinidad and Tobago national team coaches Bertille St. Clair and Ron La Forest, and the late Richard Abraham, a former Joe Public and T&T team manager, and others, he was able to fulfil his dream of becoming a professional footballer and captained his coountry.
A talented midfielder with an eye for goal, Eve represented Joe Public, Defence Force and San Juan Jabloteh with the same dedication that earned him the admiration of Trinidad and Tobago fans and 117 international caps for his national team.
“I had my dream that I wanted to fulfil playing professional football so I left the Defence Force,” explained Eve, who also had stints in England and Holland with Chester City FC and Roda JC respectively. “Having clubs like we have in the Pro League helped develop me and took my profession to a level where I was able to train, rest, and focus on football on a full time.
“It’s a massive benefit to have the Pro League, even more now than back in my playing days. In my time we would get one or two players out to better opportunities but now way more players breaking into professional leagues abroad. And doors continue to open up in America, Europe, Honduras and Costa Rica because players have a base of the professional football here in Trinidad.”
Germany-bound Joevin Jones (Seattle Sounders / USA), Kevin Molino (Minnesota United / USA), Mekeil Williams (Colorado Rapids / USA), Cordell Cato (San Jose Earthquakes / USA), Ataulla Guerra, Neveal Hackshaw (Charleston Battery / USA), Trevin Caesar (Sacramento Republic FC / USA), Aikim Andrews, Jelani Peters (Toronto FC II / Canada), Jerrel Britto (Honduras Progreso / Honduras), Jomal Williams, Shahdon Winchester (Murciélagos / Mexico), Daneil Cyrus, Jan-Michael Williams (Juticalpa / Honduras), Jamille Boatswain, Kurt Frederick (Alajuelense / Costa Rica), Leston Paul, Dwayne James (Pasaquina / El Salvador), Sheldon Bateau (FC Kairat / Kazakhstan), Radanfah Abu Bakr (FK Sūduva Marijampolė / Lithuania), Lester Peltier (FC Alashkert / Armenia), Keston Julien (AS Trenčín / Slovakia), Brent Sam (SU 1º Dezembro / Portugal), Willis Plaza and Carlyle Mitchell (East Bengal / India) are some former Pro League players currently attached to clubs abroad.
“I am in the second part of my football, which is coaching,” added Eve, who began coaching as an assistant to ex-England international Terry Fenwick at Jabloteh before moving to the now defunct Ma Pau SC alongside head coach Michael Mc Comie.
Eve, who went on to hold head coach roles at North East Stars, where he had title success including the FA Trophy, and St. Ann’s Rangers, questioned, “If we didn’t have a Pro League …would we have this opportunity?
“Professional football isn’t only down to the owners of the team,” continued the 1991 FIFA U20 World Cup Trinidad and Tobago player. “They (the owners) are actually doing community service when you think about it, and it’s only fair the Government and corporate Trinidad and Tobago assist.
“Sportsmen don’t look at politics. I represented the national team during the time of NAR, UNC and PNM governments and the respective sport ministers during their terms would come to the airport to celebrate when we did well. We serve our country and what we asking for is support so that the politicians can come and celebrate.”
Eve joined the call for the upgrade of grounds for use by professional teams within their communities, using reference to some clubs in England who use state-owned facilities. He said it will help the business of clubs and by extension improve the Pro League.
The former T&T Olympic team coach is also of the opinion that Tobagonian players are cheated by not having a team from the sister isle at the Pro League level.
“Players from Tobago don’t have the same opportunity as their Trinidad counterparts. They don’t play at the same high intensity on a regular basis and it shows, for instance, when there is national selection because they are not accustomed to a faster level of play. Tobago is full of talent but they need to play consistently at the highest level locally.”
Eve recently stepped down as first vice-president of the Northern Football Association (NFA) to concentrate more on his coaching roles at Pro League title contenders Club Sando and with Naparima College, who he led to a number of titles over the last three seasons including back-to-back SSFL League crowns in 2014 and 2015.
Sando returns to Pro League action on Tuesday 19 September against North East Stars in a top-of-the-table clash from 6pm at the Ato Boldon Stadium following which Couva rivals W Connection and Central FC will renew their rivalry from 8pm at the Couva venue.
Also on Tuesday, Point Fortin Civic will host Morvant Caledonia United from 6pm at the Mahaica Oval and simultaneously at the St. James Barracks, Police will welcome San Juan Jabloteh.
Pro League action, however, resumes on Friday 15 September with St. Ann’s Rangers taking on Defence Force FC from 6pm at the Ato Boldon Stadium before weekend fixtures in the FA Trophy Round of 64.
Trinidad and Tobago Pro League 2017
Upcoming (rescheduled) Round One Match Day Seven fixtures
(Friday 15 September 2017)
St. Ann’s Rangers vs Defence Force, 6pm, Ato Boldon Stadium.
(Tuesday 19 September 2017)
Club Sando vs North East Stars, 6pm, Ato Boldon Stadium;
W Connection vs Central FC, 8pm, Ato Boldon Stadium;
Point Fortin Civic vs Morvant Caledonia United, 6pm, Mahaica Oval;
Police FC vs San Juan Jabloteh, 6pm, St. James Barracks.