ANGUS EVE, ex-national football captain and Under-23 coach, yesterday stressed more could be done to help future T&T prospects from falling victims to gun violence.
Eve was speaking after the death of former footballer Marcus Gomez, who was killed after a drive-by shooting near his home at Building 20 in Maloney Gardens on Wednesday evening.
The 24-year-old Gomez, nicknamed “Risky”, was liming with friends when a car approached the group and the occupants fired shots.
Three people were wounded in the attack but Gomez died at the scene.
The former attacking midfielder grew up through the youth ranks at Joe Public, before spending time with North East Stars (2012-2014) and San Juan Jabloteh (2014-2015).
Gomez garnered tremendous attention while playing with Arima North Secondary in the Secondary Schools Football League (SSFL) during the 2011 and 2012 seasons.
He was a member of the national Under-20 team in 2012, under the guidance of coach Ross Russell.
Eve, who was Gomez’s coach at North East Stars, recalled “the level of ability that the young man had.”
Eve said, “Him, Jesus Perez, Neil Mitchell and Neveal Hackshaw, I would have gotten them directly from Arima when I saw them play and I brought (them) into the North East set-up.
“He was a tremendous player and it’s unfortunate that his life had to be snuffed out so young,” Eve lamented.
Eve, the current coach of both Pro League outfit Club Sando and Secondary Schools Football League (SSFL) Premier Division winners Naparima, acknowledged, “Sometimes the environment gets the better of us. I’m somebody who came from Carenage. I had a strong family influence and I wanted more for myself.
“Sometimes we get caught up in the environment that we’re living in, and it’s unfortunate he fell in that mould where he was in a particular community and got caught up. You really need strong role models.”
Eve said he rued not coaching Gomez for a longer period.
“I really would have liked to have him a bit longer. He moved on. I don’t think he should of at that time, but he just (wanted) a dollar more. I don’t think the people he went with (were) guiding him in the same way,” he said.
Eve added, “I want to send out the deepest condolences (from) my football family to Marcus’ family.”
Richard Fakoory, interim chairman of the Pro League, and SSFL president William Wallace, also spoke on Gomez’s passing.
Fakoory, who is also the owner of Pro League club St Ann’s Rangers, commented, “On behalf of the Board and the Pro League fraternity, condolences to his family. Every death, no matter what situation, is sad.”
“I would like to extend condolences on behalf of the SSFL,” said Wallace. “It’s unfortunate when things like this happen.”
Both Fakoory and Wallace bemoaned the lack of overall support systems for footballers, particularly those making the transition from the schools league to the professional and/or semi-professional ranks.
Fakoory noted, “Each club should be able to watch over their (youth players). It all comes down to resources – money. If you have somebody who can go into the schools, talk to the deans and the deans can share with us who are the delinquents, and we can sit down and talk to the kids....”
Fakoory continued, “There is life after football. These kids sometimes don’t understand that. We should be able to talk to the parents as well. We’re guilty just as well.”
Wallace said, “One of our main goals in the SSFL is to make sure that things like this don’t happen. We give our players an opportunity through football.”
He added, “It also speaks to the support systems. After you leave school, what happens after that? I think that is the support system that is lacking. Our youths get lost after they walk through those gates. Sometimes they still need somebody to walk with them.”
SOURCE: T&T Newsday