Saturday 10th June, 2006

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A call to warriors

So is there anything else to talk about today? Does anyone care about life outside of football?

If only because it is one of the things these days to give us hope and provide adequate distraction from the slow painful death of rotten governance in sweet and sour T&T.

Happy as I am that the Soca Warriors have been such a unifying force, it strikes me as a little sad that sport and art will succeed where politicians have consistently and successively failed.

Perhaps we should just demolish the Red House and let all the county councils come to decisions about the future of the nation on a football pitch.

It would certainly be a more beautiful and eloquent execution of our democracy.

On a field the Soca Warriors battle for our sense of who we are. Artists and visionaries creating a dance that will define us.

It remains to be seen whether we will dare to follow their lead. To turn up for the battle and put on the war paint and take the ball and win the fight.

Because this is a time of change. But it is also a time of distraction. But the optimist in me is reawakened and I want to believe that we won’t take our eyes off the political football. We won’t be so Germany bazodie that we stop minding our collective business.

Because as sure as red blood flows through these here veins, surely I am nervous and excited and overjoyed and terrified to see my Soca Warriors take the field.

But more than that I feel energised too. Inspired to see that there are some Trinis who know what it is to fight for a dream. To see it through to the bitter end. To not despair when the doubts of others threaten to betray our best intentions.

And I feel that the mere show of defiance is a victory in itself.

So whether we are playing against England or Alutrint, the passion and the drive must be similar.

It is no accident of the universe that so many interesting happenings are colliding.

The West Indies cricket team stands tall again. The Soca Warriors take the world stage. More and more people, regular normal people in T&T, are standing up and saying enough is enough to those in power who are making attempts to abuse it.

For every negative there is a positive show of defiance to make you say, ooooh goooud, this place sweet.

That late great Jamaican prophet Robert Nesta once said that football is freedom.

Freedom is a concept that we have not fully understood. Which is why a Prime Minister can say that his hands are tied and he has no power to get out of a big deal with a big stinky multinational.

Freedom is a thing that we fear in a place where marauding developers who have yet to be given environmental clearance destroy trees for no apparent reason.

Freedom is the thing that we often confuse with freeness. Freeness and enforced anarchy on the streets, in the shops, in Parliament.

Freedom, or the lack thereof, is the thing that keeps us from getting together. Because we fear each other. An artist bredrin pointed out the other day that Trinis are always talking about “we.” But who is this we when every day the divides get wider and more pronounced?

Football is freedom. But in this here time, football is also big big business. Football is capitalism and politics. It is the beautiful game with many ugly undersides. Racist football hooligans, fascist fans who take pride in their national team to bizarre levels of hate.

And women’s groups in Europe ask those who are football supporters to bear in mind how many women will be trafficked into Germany to satisfy the urges of too many men in too small spaces.

It’s little children in Asia going blind working in sweat shops to sew us perfectly crafted balls. Hope that their freedom comes soon and that justice follows.

Football is more than freedom. It is life. A reflection of all our hopes and fears. In all of us there is a Soca Warrior struggling to come out. Wanting to come out and play. Kick down prejudice and run ragged all efforts to keep us from our goals.

Let today be the beginning of all our football ambitions, on the field and off.




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