spirit wins fans at Dortmund
and Tobagos first appearance at a World Cup match
was already an occasion for the history books, marking not
only this countrys debut at the zenith of soccers
championships but also the arrival of the smallest country
ever to qualify.
That declaration of our talent to population quotient may
be the most potent message that this country can take to
Germany and from there, to the world stage.
For much of the last century, Trinidad and Tobago has quietly
but emphatically delivered a supply of talented contributors
to global fields of endeavour. Our writers, artists, scientists,
beauties and thinkers have been part of a return to the
first world of sensibilities shaped by the effortless grandeur
of these two islands and the fruits of a true blending of
races and cultures.
As we have learned from each other, we have in turn, taught
This weeks lesson came from a team that has fought
for decades to gain entry to the World Cup, and having arrived
there, earned justifiable accolades for a performance that
was as intriguing as it was enthusiastic.
In a match with a top ten team that the world had dismissed
as a forgettable requirement, the Soca Warriors won increasing
enthusiasm from commentators and a vocal crowd with their
display of unrelenting commitment from the first whistle
to the last.
The team, sprinting onto the field to take their places,
clearly understood that this was their D-Day, their day
in Dortmund, to let the world know that they were far more
than an interesting footnote on the field of play, that
this country could produce not just footballers of skill,
but men, people of heart.
But the match was no mere walk in a Deutschland park. Before
the game even began, first line goalkeeper Kelvin Jack was
sidelined, unable to reconcile a lingering injury with what
was required of him in this match.
In some ways he set the tone for what was to come, letting
his coach know that he wasnt ready for this game and
stepping aside for Shaka Hislop, whose skills would be well
tested in the 90 minutes to come. He was the second member
of the first pick side to lose an opportunity to walk the
grass at Westfalenstadoin, joining stopper Marvin Andrews
on the sidelines to make way for the best team possible.
Both Hislop and Brent Sancho, Andrews replacement
got off to a shaky start, Hislop out of position for a crucial
early corner and Sancho fighting to take the measure of
Swedens massive strikers, but the first half was very
much an exercise in the team finding themselves on the field.
If the first half was a surprise for football fans the world
over, with a first-time team going head to head with an
11-time qualifier and acquitting themselves admirably, it
was the second half that would apply the heat in which the
Warriors would forge their reputations.
Within minutes of the resumption of play, Avery Johns
strong tackle of Swedens Christian Wilhelmsson earned
him a red card from Singapores Shamsul Maidin and
dismissal from the field. The ignominy of it was shadowed
by the realisation that the team would be facing strong
opposition one man down.
It was here that the team pulled together, not just on the
field but also from the sidelines, with Coach Leo Beenhakker
constantly reshuffling the line-up of the team, keeping
the Swedes off balance.
The team will face fresh challenges in the coming weeks,
from strong teams that are now going to be preparing to
face T&T footballers who have no intention of bowing
to the reputations of their foes.
possibilities have opened to us, artist LeRoy Clarke
told reporters after seeing the team play. But weve
always known that. The Soca Warriors are not the first to
take the worlds stage and excel, but they have proven
our potential at one of its most public venues.