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Sun, Jul

Pat Small, from left, Charlie Spooner, Lennox Sirjusingh (VFFOTT PRO), Miley Yorke, Ben Sombrano and Frank De Freitas (VFFOTT Secretary) at the 2019 VFFOTT annual Carnival Under-13 Tournament.
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It is with sadness that the Veteran Footballers Foundation of T&T (VFFOTT) received news of the passing of former outstanding footballer, basketball player, soldier of the Regiment and VFFOTT member in good standing from inception, Mr. Benito Sombrano.

On behalf of the Executive and members of VFFOTT, I extend our heartfelt condolences to Ben’s ex-wife Carol, son Darryl and entire family.

The expression of condolences is also extended the members of the Armed forces Veterans Association, the close-knit steelband, basketball and football fraternity of St James and Woodbrook in the sixties.

Benito Sombrano was a loyal committed team player who discharged his responsibilities diligently, and always took pride in having the back of his teammates and friends. His advocacy and bravery were always displayed in dedicated positions of strength taking pride in the statement “leave everything to me” I would get things organised. That’s the manner in which he discharged his responsibilities as a soldier and those are the attributes Ben brought to our VFFOTT organisation which were truly outstanding, beneficial and for which the membership was grateful.

At VFFOTT he was surrounded by his long-time teammates, soldiers and friends and he completely thoroughly enjoyed making his immense contribution.

Ben’s love for sport began at an early age when his boyhood friend Lincoln Phillips at age ten, would play football for their St James team Wonderers and go on to play in the big community leagues at the St James Infirmary, the Woodbrook Youth Center and the Queens park savannah. They also displayed their talents at basketball joining with friends for life playing with the Woodbrook Limers basketball team.

As a talented sportsman Ben made a significant contribution at both basketball and football. He represented the Malvern Sports Club at football with his teammates, Clive “Milo-man” Burnett, goalkeeper, Ken Henry, Malcolm Mason, Godfrey “Blight” Achille, Lennard Pierre, Hamil Murray, Carlton Franco, Kelvin Berassa, Clive Niles, Ken Hodge, Arthur “Jap” Brown, Eddie Hart and Tim Lambkin in a team known as the “Woodbrook Glamour Boys” that introduced the popular “cha, cha, cha” football style against opponents.

The First Intake of the T&T Regiment in 1963, which included Retired Brigadier General Carl Alfonso and several of the Malvern Sports Club footballers Ben, Berassa, Niles, Lambkin, Achille, Phillips and Victor Gamaldo former QRC footballer, all creating a Regiment formidable football team, where Ben was also joined in the defence by Charlie Spooner and Miley Yorke.

He always lamented the fact that the best Cummings’s footballer, Philibert Cummings, who also played with Malvern at one time, migrated and did not pursue staying with the Regiment.

The Regiment embarked on a meaningful participation in sport disciplines to include athletics, basketball, cricket, hockey, rugby and proved successful competitors.

Apart from his football, Ben demonstrated his basketball prowess with the outstanding Regiment team, that included Tony Innis, Achille, Yorke, Frank Merrit, Winston “Cheesy” Lewis and Phillips. Ben brought his Woodbrook Limers basketball skills to the invincible Regiment team.

It is fitting that several of these outstanding sportsmen have been honoured for their invaluable contribution as soldiers and have been inducted to the Wall of Fame, proudly displayed at the Regiment Headquarters.

Ben’s kinship to the steelband movement was unmatched. He was an early participant in the steelbands in the west as a young man and like most at that time he was active in the Invaders band. With his young friends and their advocacy, several of the young Woodbrook boys and QRC students came together to become Foundation members of the Starlift Steel Orchestra.

Ben’s friends included Ray Holman, Ian Jones, Richard Waddell, the Williams’s brothers, Monty, Happi and Noble, the Maud brothers Alva and Merrill, the Sharpe brothers Selwyn and Boogsie, Eslyn Hinds, and several others who played in the band. The rest is history, real good history.

With his great love for the steelband there was hardly a steelband event in T&T or New York that he did not attend, well attired in his Bermuda shorts.

Ben was the true Trinidadian "Limer". He established his barracks at Table 1, Bar 710, where with his troops, loyal friends with deep roots would congregate. Many an international incident was resolved with dispatch during those many sessions. That posse included his long-time friends Ross, Clyde Mc Collin, and the boys.

Over the years, I enjoyed the great friendship of my elder cousin Arthur Jap’s good friends, Ben, Hart and Ken Hodge, who were all a source of advice, guidance and support and we had our calls for each other. With Ben the call was “Another Browne.”

When Ben retired from the Regiment and the Defence Force and the Police Service had dominant football teams, in 1970 he returned to train with Malvern, our coach Robbie Greenidge, announced the starting team to play against the Police team in the FA Cup match at the Queens Park Oval. Robbie started from the goalkeeper and when he reached the forward line, he stated the three Bs would be upfront - Ulric “Buggy” Haynes, Ulric Boxhill and Selby Browne.

Ben’s proclamation was “Good, Another Browne - we Win”. So said so done, we won the match 1-0, with my goal, a header from a corner taken by Arthur “Jap”. It was July 1970 and the Police football team was out of the FA competition.

Ben continued to give back to the game and was captain of the Luton Town football team where he shared his vast knowledge of the game. He represented the Armed Forces Veteran football team that participated in the Eddie Hart League and also joined with his dear friend Eddie Hart “the King” to facilitate the operation of the massive League at that time.

The Armed Forces Veteran football team also travelled to tournaments throughout T&T, the Caribbean, Canada and the USA.

We give thanks for Ben’s true commitment to loyalty and friendship and the wonderful memories and great fun, laughter and camaraderie we enjoyed throughout the many years. These pictures capture Benito as always surrounded by his true and loyal friends.

The time of his cremation will be at 3.30 pm on Wednesday (May 26) in accordance with strict COVID-19 requirements.

As we say farewell to Benito on his homeward journey, we feel sure his many friends, of the battalion far and near, would join in saying a prayer in their hearts for a true advocate and soldier, that our wonderful memories with Ben will remain a blessing and his soul would have Eternal Rest In Peace.

Selby Browne
VFFOTT president


SOURCE: T&T Guardian