Veteran players celebrate 100 years of football in T&T

Roger Seepersad
Date Published: 
Trinidad Express

Fond MemoriesFond Memories: Former Trinidad and Tobago footballer and West Indies cricketer Willie Rodriguez looks at some football memorabilia during the Veteran Footballers Foundation's Centennial Brunch yesterday at Hyatt Regency Hotel, Wrightson Road, Port of Spain.

"It is one of the most exciting days of my life seeing so many old faces together."

That, in a nutshell, was what yesterday's Veteran Footballers Foundation Calypso Soccer Centennial Brunch at Hyatt Regency Hotel was all about, according to Tansley Thompson, who organised the event.

Thompson, son of late Trinidad and Tobago great "Bertie" Thompson, was pleased with the turnout at the brunch, which was dubbed "A Centennial Celebration for Generations of Footballers", at the Wrightson Road, Port of Spain venue.

The former footballer said the theory behind the Veteran Footballers Foundation was to get an organisation going to look after the needs of the veterans, who he said still have a lot to bring to the table.

"If we get the veterans to interact with the young ones then we can get a body that can positively impact on the society," said Thompson, also a boxing promoter.

In addition, he said the Foundation's existence allows the entire T&T football fraternity to see an organisation they can be a part of.

Former Trinidad and Tobago footballer and West Indies cricketer Willie Rodriguez was also in attendance at the function and said that football in T&T "has come a long way" since he last took the field.

"When I played we did not have a coach," the ex-footballer explained. "The preparations were different from today and we held our own at the highest level in the region."

He added: "There is a lot to learn from the past when we look at the positives and in the areas where we were deficient, we will know that there is room for improvement."

Commenting on the current national team, Rodriguez was critical of their slow start to games, saying that to have any chance against the bigger countries, "We have to come out running!"

Former T&T skipper Sedley Joseph also praised yesterday's event, saying: "It is a great thing for ex-footballers."

When asked about the past as compared to the present, Joseph replied: "I thought we would have been a bit more advanced or a lot further than we are at present."

He said the difference now is that captains rely on coaches to make most of the decisions. In the past, he recalled that "the onus was on the captain to make decisions and changes in the game".

Now there are coaches on the sideline directing the game and everything relies on what the coaches say.

Although many things have changed in 100 years of football in Trinidad and Tobago, the ex-players all seemed to share one passion, which was representing T&T over the years, and that passion was given a chance to come out as the proceedings concluded with an open microphone session, which allowed the veterans a chance to voice their opinions and share old memories.

After all was said and done, everyone who attended the Calypso Soccer Centennial Brunch left with a piece of history as the Foundation launched a brochure to commemorate T&T's 100 years of football.