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Fri, Feb

Football fraternity pays tribute to Winchester.
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Shock and dis­be­lief was the pre­vail­ing sen­ti­ment ex­pressed by play­ers, team­mates and friends of de­ceased T&T se­nior men’s team foot­baller Shah­don Win­ches­ter yes­ter­day.

Win­ches­ter was one of four peo­ple killed in a ve­hic­u­lar ac­ci­dent along the south-bound lane of the Sir Solomon Ho­choy High­way near Gas­par­il­lo yes­ter­day morn­ing. Win­ches­ter was just 27-years-old and leaves to mourn a two-year-old daugh­ter and a fi­ancee. He al­so leaves be­hind his moth­er and two younger sib­lings.

The news has rocked the na­tion­al foot­ball com­mu­ni­ty, in­clud­ing T&T Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion pres­i­dent William Wal­lace, who is in Qatar as a guest of FI­FA pres­i­dent Gi­an­ni In­fan­ti­no at the FI­FA Club World Cup.

“I am still in a deep state of shock and sad­ness. I man­aged Shah­don dur­ing my time with the se­nior team and what I ex­pe­ri­enced was a young man that was hum­ble, well-man­nered, soft-spo­ken and an in­di­vid­ual with big dreams and am­bi­tions,” Wal­lace said.

“To his moth­er, your son was a fine young man and we are grate­ful for the mem­o­ries and pos­i­tive in­flu­ences he would have had on oth­ers.”

Win­ches­ter made 27 ap­pear­ances and scored six goals for the se­nior men’s team since mak­ing his de­but as a promis­ing 18-year-old in 2010 un­der then-head coach Rus­sell Lat­apy. It was the be­gin­ning of the road to ful­fill­ing the im­mense promise showed by Princes Town na­tive, who came through the ranks of the na­tion­al youth teams, start­ing with the na­tion­al un­der-15 team.

It was on the un­der-15 team that he and for­mer na­tion­al youth team and W Con­nec­tion FC team­mate Jer­rel Brit­to first met and ini­ti­at­ed a 13-year friend­ship.

Brit­to told Guardian Me­dia Sports that they grew so close that team­mates be­gan re­fer­ring to the in­sep­a­ra­ble pair as ‘Black and White’.

“When we were play­ing school foot­ball, I was at QRC and he was at Naps, the top­ic at the time was that these two young foot­ballers are do­ing so well for their schools. I end­ed up show­ing up to a na­tion­al un­der 15 screen­ing and he was there and from that, we just end­ed up mesh­ing,” Brit­to said.

“It was re­al­ly him that per­suad­ed to come to Con­nec­tion. One of the play­ers la­belled us Black and White be­cause of the two dogs on the la­bel of the ‘Black and White’ (whiskey) bot­tle. We just built this re­la­tion­ship and be­came in­sep­a­ra­ble.”

He added, “Shah­don Win­ches­ter to me he had a unique per­son­al­i­ty. He was a guy that you could al­ways call and speak to and no mat­ter what he was go­ing through he would al­ways give you that lis­ten­ing ear. I hope he rests in eter­nal peace, we’ll for­ev­er be Black and White, he’ll for­ev­er be my broth­er. It’s trag­ic but this is life and we have to ac­cept as it comes but I will for­ev­er love him.”

For cur­rent na­tion­al se­nior team cap­tain Khaleem Hy­land, com­ing to terms with the loss of a fel­low So­ca War­rior is dif­fi­cult. Hy­land, who plies his trade at Al-Faisaly FC in Sau­di Ara­bia, called it “just a ter­ri­ble way to lose a life.”

“It’s even hard­er for us be­cause Shah­don was one of us. He was our broth­er and this could be any one of us. I send all my prayers to his moth­er and the fam­i­ly mem­bers of the oth­ers who lost their lives,” Hy­land said.

Win­ches­ter, who would have turned 28 on Jan­u­ary 8, was rep­re­sent­ing W Con­nec­tion in the cur­rent TT Pro League sea­son which be­gan last week. This af­ter hav­ing rep­re­sent­ed a num­ber of for­eign-based clubs in Mex­i­co, Viet­nam, Azer­bai­jan and Fin­land, where he played most re­cent­ly for Seinäjoen Jalka­pal­lok­er­ho (SJK) in No­vem­ber 2018.

This sit­u­a­tion may have been about to change ac­cord­ing to an­oth­er So­ca War­riors team­mate Shel­don Bateau, who told Guardian Me­dia Sports that he was or­gan­is­ing a tri­al at a new team for Win­ches­ter.

“A few days ago I mes­saged him be­cause an agent was look­ing for a strik­er and I thought that Shah­don would have been the per­fect play­er to fit that pro­file so I reached out to him and I put him on to the agent. So to know that I was try­ing to put things in place for him to get back out­side of Trinidad and make a bet­ter life for him­self and for his fam­i­ly, and this has tak­en place is very sad.”

The T&T Pro League has post­poned to­mor­row’s round one fix­ture be­tween W Con­nec­tion and Point Fortin Civic Cen­tre as a sign of re­spect for the now de­ceased play­er.

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Sad day for T&T football
By Jonathan Ramnanansingh (Newsday).


A TRULY sad day for T&T football.

Such was the sentiment shared by members of the national football fraternity on the untimely passing of W Connection and T&T striker, Shahdon Winchester, who was one of four fatalities in a vehicular accident on the South-bound lane of the Solomon Hochoy Highway in the vicinity of Gasparillo on Thursday morning.

Chairman of the TT Pro League, Brent Sancho, expressed great sadness upon receipt of Winchester’s passing and sent heartfelt condolences to the footballer’s family, friends and teammates throughout both T&T and the globe. Although the 27-year old plied his domestic trade with W Connection, he also had stints with international clubs in Finland, Mexico and Azerbaijan.

“It’s still shocking to me,” said Sancho. “Our hearts go out to his family. He was a player that I felt was starting to come into his own and really showing his true qualities. It’s very unfortunate. Surely now, with this being the second road death in the football fraternity this year, it’s something I feel we have to work a bit closer with the authorities as it relates to road safety. We can’t afford to continuously lose our footballing gems like this.”

Sancho could help but to reflect on the May 30 passing of another former national footballer, Jason Marcano, via vehicular accident. The Central FC owner admitted the football fraternity had not yet fully recovered from Marcano’s death. Now, partnered with Thursday morning’s unwelcoming news, TT football has plunged into further mourning.

“It comes on the backdrop of the death of Jason Marcano. Just when you thought we were getting back to normality, we have been dealt another big blow to the TT Pro League and football as a whole. Most of the players and staff are lost for words. It has been a tough year for football, both on and off the field. This is not the way we wanted to end the year and it’s really is a tragic story. I hope that his family and close relative can find some form of console and get strength from it,” he added.

Meanwhile, W Connection chief executive officer Renee John-Williams, also paid tribute to the life and career of the former Naparima College stalwart. In a statement issued to the media on Thursday, John-Williams revealed the club is in deep grief. “There are no words that could accurately describe the way anyone of us at W Connection feel at this moment. We are devastated and heartbroken by Shahdon’s untimely passing. Shahdon grew up in W Connection from a young boy, starting from the inception of the youth programme in 2000. He was a true son, a brother and will forever be a Savonetta Boy and lifetime member.”

“He was a talented and dedicated player, our captain, a father, and it was an honour to watch his growth and achievements over the last two decades on a personal and professional level. We grieve along with his family and ask that they be kept in prayer during this time and beyond. His death has left a void in our hearts and we pray that comfort can be found in the many happy memories he helped to create.”

Minister of Sport and Youth Affairs, Shamfa Cudjoe, also sent condolences to Winchester’s family.

“Shahdon’s passing is truly a shock to the entire football fraternity, and by extension TT. He was a true patriot and his passion and dedication to the sport of football would surely be remembered.

Trinidad and Tobago has, indeed, lost a gem. On behalf of the Ministry of Sport and Youth Affairs, I extend sincerest condolences to his family and friends at this time. May he rest in peace.”