Thu, Jul


We can't possibly be this unique. Surely there are other countries or communities where facts are irrelevant.

Whoever they are or wherever they may be, though, they have to come damn good to match the level of expertise we have achieved in being able to finesse, mamaguile or insult our way around the blindingly obvious and have the shameless boldfacedness (or should that be boldfaced shamelessness?) to keep on doing it...and getting support from the masses to boot.

It's not like this afternoon's budget presentation, where after Winston Dookeran has anaesthetised us all in droning on for at least the length of a football game, we will then be subjected to a plethora of reactions, where an assortment of politicians and their lackeys will come up with widely divergent opinions on the same figures, assumptions and guestimates from the Minister of Finance, based on whether or not they are PP stooges or PNM party hacks.

Nor is it like the situation regarding the revocation of the appointment of the chairman of the Port Authority, where, in the absence of independent, impartial confirmation, the Balisier brigade will ring the bell in support of Clive Spencer while the Kamlamania devotees will accept the version offered by Transport Minister Devant Maharaj as if it were timeless scripture.

No sir. This is about simple, basic, irrefutable facts. Bermuda scored twice in the World Cup qualifier on Friday night. Trinidad and Tobago scored once. As a consequence, the home team won and the visitors lost. You with me so far? Good, because this is where it starts to gets demanding.

This is when you have to walk with an assortment of gardening tools to shovel up what is being served up by the vast array of apologists for what has become of Trinidad and Tobago's football.

You need a pair of heavy-duty shears to trim off the thick mat of high-falutin' rubbish pretending to be flowery expert analysis decorated with all sorts of technical terms, the assumption being that we simpletons who have never managed to kick a lime in anger cannot possibly comprehend the complexity of the challenges facing the senior men's national team.

Look, we were never world-beaters and never will be. But we certainly were the dominant forces in the Caribbean region for the better part of 30 years. So how come we now struggle consistently to beat any of our neighbours? How did it come to this sorry pass, where opponents who were little more than warm-ups for bigger challenges now fully expect that they can pull off a victory, or at the very least avoid defeat, at the feet of a team that, let us remember, went to the 2006 World Cup finals in Germany where we drew with Sweden and defied England for 82 minutes?

You know why? Because we lack the testicular (or ovarian) fortitude to tell these charlatans where to go. We are all waiting for someone else to be the sacrificial lamb, who will dare to challenge the status quo, who will tell these pompous emperors with no clothes that their nakedness is an embarrassment to the nation.

In the meantime, we, a motley assortment of cowards, parasites and opportunists, get the kick up the backside we deserve in the shape of Otto Pfister's reluctant comments in the aftermath of defeat to the Bermudans.

Hear him: "In football you have three outcomes. You draw, you win or you lose. Today we lose. We have to try in three days to win again. Thank you."

After wisdom like that, marinated in sarcasm, he will obviously give his own version of "Yesterday was yesterday, today is today" should the national team manage to get the better of bottom-of-the-table Barbados tomorrow at the Hasely Crawford Stadium. And what will we do in response? Turn the other cheek, of course, so allowing Pfister to plant his boot on the previously unscarred half of our ample backsides.

Let "Gally" Cummings or Bertille St Clair or Alvin Corneal say something like that after a defeat. Man, we would tear them apart, call for heads to roll and demand that a foreigner be brought in right now to save us from ourselves.

Less than 11 months away from completing 50 years as an independent nation, this is still a society of plantation owners who call the shots over a majority of slaves and indentured labourers whose only ambition is to be just like the plantation owners and to hell with any hope of proper nation-building and civic-mindedness.

Football is probably our best example as a nation in denial, a nation that steadfastly refuses to accept that, by virtue of our own narrow-mindedness and selfishness, we are being left further and further behind in a sport in which we were reasonably competent as a national team.

In a proper country, Pfister would be back home in Cologne already, sent packing as much for his insulting indifference to another poor performance as for his consistent inability to get the best of whatever footballing talent that is available here.

Remember, his first task on being appointed six-and-a-half months ago was to look for players with Trini roots who he could persuade to play for us.

But, in the same way that a freshwater Yankee is the new voice of the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service, the Pfister phenomenon is just another manifestation of a people who just can't bring themselves to appreciate their own, unless somebody outside tells us to big them up.