Wed, Jun

Not every child is academically gifted. Talent is as diverse as snow-flakes. We must respect and acknowledge every individual’s unique gifts with the same fervour as performance in the classroom.

Music, dance, art, craft, culture, vocational skills and sporting prowess are equally noble, disparate and valuable skills. Achievement in these fields must not only be encouraged and rewarded, but most importantly, respected. An individual’s self-esteem is the main factor in determining success in life. Simply put, pride enhances performance.

The T&T Pro league (originally the PFL) began in 1999. Many reasons have been put forward for its creation; from the need to have a professional league in order to qualify to host a FIFA World Cup; as a means to make more money; as a social experiment; or even as a springboard to World Cup success.

The fact of the matter is that I could not care less. The T&T Pro League is akin to oxygen. The T&T Pro League is an absolute necessity.

The T&T Pro League provides direct sustainable employment for over 400 people; indirect employment for a further 600 citizens; while the spin-off benefits are wide and varied-from advertising agencies, to medical services, security, entertainers, media personnel, vendors, sports agents, apparel designers, sport drink manufacturers and the like. Everyone benefits financially from the T&T Pro League.

Even more pertinent is the fact that the T&T Pro League employs individuals in the 18-30 year old demographic. This is also the “high crime” age bracket. I obviously do not need to waste precious space in the Guardian to elaborate further.

The fight for survival is officially over. With the unadulterated success of the FCB Cup, the T&T Pro League has turned the corner and is now on the path to fruition. The title sponsors simply could not ask for more.

An average crowd of 6,000 viewed both the semi-finals on Republic Day and the finals a week later. Football was the winner. Apart from being treated to excellent displays on the field, the crowd was lavishly entertained by the Excalibur sound system and enlivened by guest performances by Militant, Slaughter, Lil Bits, Maximus Dan and Kees Dieffenthaller.

The Siparia Rhythm Posse, the Lynx Rhythm Section, Kaisoca Moko Jumbies and Nuts Landing lit up the Manny Ramjohn Stadium. The crowd was also treated to special giveaways courtesy KFC, Lucozade Sport and First Citizens Bank.

Free nuts, doubles, and chubby soft drinks were also provided. Not even a 30-minute delay in the darkness on Republic Day could dampen the spirits of the patrons as Excalibur simply “mashed up” the place. Fans left the stadium singing the same tune, “Ah never get so much ting for $20!”

Dexter Skeene, the new CEO of the T&T Pro League, his support staff, the sponsors, players, coaches and managers should all be commended on a job well done.

However, as impressed as I was with the organisation of the football competition, I was equally disgusted with what transpired at the official awards’ function on October 7, at the VIP room at the Hasely Crawford Stadium.

The function was carded to begin promptly at 7 pm. However, a 15-minute grace period was allowed, due to the flash flooding in Central Trinidad.

Marlon Holder, Deputy CEO of FCB was in attendance, along with five or six of his branch managers; Oliver Camps, President of the TTFF, Larry Romany, Chairman of the T&T Pro League, invited guests and all of the media.

Yet only two of the eight competing teams were present and on time. W Connection, the eventual champions, were represented by their entire squad including officials, coaches, the chairman, David Martin and the owner, David John Williams. While the same can be said for the Defence Force unit, runners up in this year’s competition —all players were present and accounted for, coach Ross Russell and manager, Wesley Webb player/manager of Starworld Strikers arrived at the conclusion of the official part of the proceedings.

Defending champions, CL Financial San Juan Jabloteth, semi-finalist, North-East Stars, Arima Fire, South-West Drillers and Tobago United did not even show a modicum of courtesy by sending a representative, far less the entire team. No excuses can be accepted. This was in one word, “disgraceful”.

It appears that the message being sent to players is that you must only attend a function if you win something. It must be noted here that the W Connection outfit have been represented at every function put on by Pro League, win, lose or draw. No wonder they happen to be the most successful professional team ever in T&T.

I am a little more saddened by the absence of CL Financial San Juan Jabloteth than the other four teams. Being defending champions, as well as having an incredibly efficient and passionate management structure, and a phenomenal sponsor, I certainly expected more. I am certain that Messrs Jerry Hospedales and Wilfred Espinet share my disappointment with their teams notable absence.

Even more saddening is that the T&T Pro League management team is working extremely hard to ensure the league flourishes. Not for themselves but for the players, managers and coaches. Yet the latter appear to be unwilling to fight for their livelihoods. In order to flourish, the T&T Pro League family must work harmoniously together.

Ironically, I constantly hear the call, especially from some of the absentee teams, that more money is needed from the corporate sector and Government to support teams in the league. If you continue to disrespect sponsors, the league and yourselves, you are in no position to cry foul. Just think of how Holder must have felt having to stand up to present awards to ghosts.

Coaching does not end on the field of play. Character development, especially in the area of courtesy and plain manners, is imperative. One only has to read an article by Angela Pidduck to learn that common courtesy is, in fact, uncommon. In short, Pidduck confirmed an interview and photo shoot with a prominent West Indies (Trinbagonian) fast bowler, only to be stood up without as much as a phone call.

The T&T Pro League is on the right track. First Citizens Bank must be commended. Give Jack his Jacket. However, a more holistic approach is needed by some member clubs. Selfish attitudes must be checked. Let courtesy reign.

This has been an unpaid, unsolicited, yet full endorsement of the T&T Pro League. Ah gone!