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Sat, Dec

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While many people are shunning Morvant and Laventille, Defending FA Trophy champions Caledonia AIA are eager to add the troubled community's name to their identity.

For the 2009 season the club would be called Caledonia AIA of Morvant Laventille according to Head Coach Jamaal Shabazz.

"We are proud to represent the people of Morvant/Laventille and eager to bring back that communal spirit to a community that has been devasted by ignorance, gang wars and crime," stated Shabazz, also recognized as a community activist.

Shabazz hinted that plans are afoot to have the team renamed after the two communites in the coming seasons.

"While we want to win trophies this year, our main aim is to win hearts and get the people of Morvant and Laventille to rally to  this team and call it their own.

"We have a lot of work to do in these communities and many of us in Caledonia AIA have made this a life long dedication.

"The borderline violence must stop, the people in Vegas must be able to support the team with the people in Doratha street and those in Coconut Drive must be able to mingle at the games with those from Mon Repos.

"Caledonia AIA of Morvant Laventille must eventually become a Morvant Laventille United and it must not be a superficial unity", insisted Shabazz.

Sharing this vision is none other than national football icon Russell Latapy who is very eager to start a Youth Academy in partnership with the Caledonia AIA in the Morvant/Laventille community.

Latapy and Shabazz has started their work in the community and has had several meetings with community leaders seeking assurances for the young people of various districts to forget the borderline and all come to the various venues to embrace the Academy concept.

But two main players who have embraced the effort are corporate giants Neal & Massy and NLCB.

"We have had a long history with NLCB and Neal & Massy though they have never made a big hullabaloo they have always supported our work in the community, stated Shabazz.

"For 2009 and beyond both NLCB and Neal & Massy have given us a firm committment not just to assist our Pro league efforts but to help us move the club to another level. When corporate entities come together like this it gives you tremendous encouragement and energy to tackle the problems facing our community, stated Shabazz.

"The role of the Sports Company has also been crucial, without their help clubs like St. Ann's Rangers, Tobago and ourselves will be defunct today," added Shabazz who has given up the Guyana National team to focus wholly on T&T football.

While he agrees its still to early to gauge, Shabazz is confident that Caledonia AIA of Morvant Laventille will win through in quelling the borderline violence within the community.

"The battle will be long and hard and it will weigh heavy on us but we are seeing signs that the youths are responding. We have players from Mon Repos, Coconut Drive, Vegas, Saw Mille Avenue, Chinapoo, Beverly Hills and even Trou Macaque training together and interacting again.

"Kids are excited about Russell Latapy and they want to play football and live their dreams. Badness out of style," insisted Shabazz, echoing T&T reggae artist Mr. King's now famous song "Badness Out of Style."

"We aim to strike that balance between focusing on winning trophies and using the passion of football to rebuild our community, he ended.