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They are the fresh faces of T&T’s Soca Warriors. On their shoulders—or rather their feet—they carry the hope of the entire nation for qualifying for the Fifa 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

How well do you know these young men? What are their lives like off the field? What are their interests, aspirations and desires? Why did they choose to pursue a career in football?

Well, have no fear. For the next ten weeks, The T&T Guardian will take you behind the scenes, as we get up close and personal with ten new faces of our Soca Warriors.

This week we’re kicking things off with the promising young forward Jamal Gay.

Born and bred in La Horquetta, Gay, 19, is already displaying promising talent and skill on the football field. The last of four children, it seems he was destined to play ball. His passion for the sport grew when he witnessed his oldest brother, Walter, playing football at home.

He said: “My brother would always be kicking ball in the yard. I looked up to him. He inspired me to play.”

While Gay’s football career seems bright, his life off the field is just as rewarding.

A Lower Six student of El Dorado Senior Comprehensive School, he is pursuing Management of Business, Accounting and Caribbean Studies.

Admitting it’s a challenge to juggle his career, school and personal life, he does his best to get the job done. “It’s difficult. After training I get home very late. It’s a balance. You can’t say you can’t,” he said.

An ordinary boy
Standing a towering 6’2, Gay, the top scorer in the recently concluded national InterCol football tournament, is certainly a humble lad, describing himself as “just an ordinary boy.”

When he’s not training to unleash his game against his opponents, this charge can be found spending quality time with family and friends.

“I don’t really party. I like to play Playstation 2, Nintendo and X-Box with my partners. My sister and mom tell me I’m spoilt, but I don’t think so,” he said.

Spoilt he may not be, but shy he certainly is.

When asked if he had a special someone in his life, a huge smile spread across his face. “Na na, I doh have no girlfriend. I not on dat right now, I’m focusing on my football,” he said, blushing all the while.

Gay, like any other Trinidadian man, loves his belly.

“I love to eat. I eat almost anything, I don’t really have a favourite food. I eat anything my mom cooks!”

High hopes
With an eye for business, Gay has dreams of becoming an entrepreneur. “I want to own my own business, maybe a Sports Bar. It’s not going to be a place to get drunk and high, that’s not my scene,” he said.

Of course, he also hopes to become a professional footballer. “I would love to play for Sunderland or Arsenal one day,” Gay noted. Sunderland striker Trinidadian Kenwyne Jones came in for high praise from Gay, who described the successful footballer as his “local inspiration.”

“Everybody saying I’m the next Kenwyne! Dey always comparing us, dey even say we look alike,” he said.

With an excellent work ethic, dedication and a yearning spirit to learn and play hard, Jamal Gay is well on his way to fulfilling all his dreams. He may even make it big like his “look-alike” Kenwyne.

Stay tuned....