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Sat, Sep

Photo: Former ‘Strike Squad’ captain Clayton Morris was awarded the Father of the National Medal of Honour Gold for his work in youth development on 15 August 2020.
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BITTER-SWEET VICTORY: National Futsal team coach Clayton Morris.

FORMER Trinidad and Tobago men’s football team captain Clayton Morris was presented with the Father of the Nation medal of honour gold on Saturday from the Eric Williams Memorial Committee.

The ceremony marked the 39th anniversary of the passing of this country’s first Prime Minister, Dr Eric Williams and was held at the Heliport in Chaguaramas.

Originally due to be presented with his medal on April 4, the presentation was postponed due to the Covid-19 restrictions imposed by the Trinidad and Tobago Government in March.

Morris, former T&T national football team “Strike Squad” captain, was honoured for his contribution to youth development, football and public service.

“It’s going back from representing the national team,” said Morris, “then I continued to serve both as a coach and with the ‘Strike Squad’. We still do a lot of community service as a group, where we go into communities once a month and do a clinic with the children and then play a game against the over-40 and over-50 players in the community.

“We give them an opportunity to meet us up close and personal because we know in some of these communities there are a lot of distractions, a lot of negativity,” Morris added.

Morris recalled engaging in community outreach, beginning in the T&T prisons, when he was national Futsal coach and an inmate challenged him to bring the Strike Squad to jail for some licks on the football field.

Along with the Prisons Authority, Morris’ mentorship team of Peter Aleong, Ronald Brereton, Brent Elder, Perry Martin, Merere Gonzales and former Mayor, the late Raymond Tim Kee, inmates and the University of Trinidad and Tobago began “Outreach Initiative” between 2017-2018, where a popular futsal league was started in the Maximum Security Prison.

“I remember one of the players, an inmate Sean Thomas in the group saying to me, ‘coach we would make you collect big awards in this country,” Morris stated.”

He said he was humbled to have served and continue to serve young people.

“All those parents and their sons who I have coached and mentored during the period, I say thank you for giving me such a great opportunity,” said Morris, who credited his parents Bertrand and Amla Morris for giving him a proper upbringing. That training he has passed on to daughters Claycia and Calicia Morris.

“I practiced those characteristics on a daily basis which contributed to their smooth transition through elementary, primary, secondary and tertiary education. Today they both are directors and own their individual business,” Morris said.