Archie's good medicine for Toros teammates

Henry Seiden
Date Published: 
Miami News

Miami Toros trainer Chuck Gross stood on the sidelines of the Florida International University soccer field yesterday, watching forward Warren Archibald at practice.

"Archie knows a lot about that stuff," Gross said. "He might call it voodoo medicine. You might call if folk medicine. Whatever, it works for him . . . it's just a certain thing he believes in and I've seen it work. Now I'm not saying I believe in it, but that doesn't mean there's nothing to it."

Archibald swears by it, though. His medicine once saved his soccer career.

While playing soccer in college, Archibald injured his knee. A doctor diagnosed a torn tendon and told Archibald that he might never play soccer again.

"My grandmother, she is now dead, healed it," Archibald said. "She used saffron leaves, which is an Indian herb. It is a Buddhist religious plant.

"She made it into a brew and put it on my knee. Then she took a pumpkin leaf . . . you know the leaf that from from the pumpkin plant . . . and wrapped it around the knee like a bandage. I was playing on it again in a week."

Archibald learned the medical practice in his native Trinidad. The cures aren't outrageous, like mixing the eye of newt and a lizard's tongue in stump water, then stirring the brew well in a giant black cauldron over a hot fire, occasionally tossing in fingernail dirt from a female rhesus monkey.

Actually, it's not unlike using chicken soup. Most of the ingredients from the cures are basic — herbs, alcohol, salt water and epsom salts.

"There are some plants around here I could user," Archibald said, pointing to some shrubbery on the FIU field. "It is nothing much really. It is our grand parents' medicine that has been handed down.

"Many places in Trinidad, medicine was hard to get. There were also not that many doctors. So this is the medicine our grandparents used instead to cure sickness."

There are other cures that don't involve brews or poultices. "If you get a bone stuck in your throat while eating, there are words you can say to get it out," Archibald said. "You have to know the words. No, I can't tell you what they are. The words are secret."

There are not many patients for the medicine among the Toros, but Archibald doesn't go out actively seeking people to cure anyway. Two other players from Trinidad — forward Steve David and defenseman Selris Figaro — have gone to Archibald for treatment. Recently, David had a sore ankle which Archibald helped cure.

Midfielder Ronnie Sharp, who used to room with Archibald, had a sore throat cured, too.

"I had a really bad throat, it really hurt," Sharp said. "The doctors gave me injections for it, but it didn't go away. Archie made up some stuff with lime in it and told me to drink it. My throat felt fine after that."

The throat treatment did not make a believer out of Sharp. His eyebrows were raised, though, when he was told that Archibald was playing soccer again a week after his knee injury.

"Really?" Sharp said. "Hmmph! I had that same type of injury once and it kept me out six weeks."

There are some things that can't be cured, like Sharp's fear of flying. After an airliner crashed Tuesday in New York, Sharp was the victim of some good-natured verbal abuse by teammates. His fear of flying is well-known throughout the team.

"It's not a superstition, it's fear," Sharp said. "I try to get away from it by sleeping and I even take sleeping tablets. But usually I'm too nervous to fall asleep, even after taking two sleeping tablets."

Even Archibald doesn't have a cure for that. "Lately, I've been scared flying," he said. "I've been in the air since 1966 and I've never gotten accustomed to it. When we take off, I make the sign of the cross. I pray a lot. And nobody ever makes any flying jokes on the plane."

News and Toros help Big Brothers, Sisters

The Miami Toros-Baltimore Comets soccer game in the Orange Bowl tomorrow night at eight o'clock is being sponsored by the Miami News to benefit the Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Greater Miami and Broward County.

The Toros are making a special two-for-the-price-of-one ticket offer on $4.50 reserved seats and $2.50 general admission.