Wednesday 16th April, 2008


Oliver giving back through football

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Marvin Oliver, right, of Clico San Juan Jabloteh collects the 2007 T&T Pro League ‘Best Midfielder” award from Larry Romany, chairman of the T&T Pro League at the league’s end of season awards function at Crowne Plaza Hotel & Resort, Wrightson Road, Port-of-Spain on April 3.
Photo: Anthony Harris


MARVIN OLIVER firmly believes there can be no individuals in a team sport like football, but that did not affect his excellence on the field which earned him the Player of the Year Trophy at the 2007 T&T Professional Football League (Pro-League) Awards held on April 3.

The annual awards ceremony was staged at the ballroom of the Crowne Plaza Hotel located on Wrightson Road in Port-of-Spain, where Oliver’s sterling performances resulted in him driving away with a brand new Toyota Yaris motor car.

Achieving this feat, however, was furthest from the mind of this talented midfielder when he began the season under the banner of Neal and Massy Caledonia AIA.

“My mind was on the team making a good showing,” he told Arena. “It’s a team sport and we were looking for team awards. The team must come first.”

Oliver laughed as he commented on his feat: “It feels great. It’s probably the most expensive award I have ever won. I’m a young Trinidadian who wasn’t born with a gold spoon. I grew up in the ghetto.”

Oliver is no stranger to the football spotlight.

In 1993, he was voted the Secondary Schools Footballer of Year. Back then, he was attached to San Juan Senior Comprehensive.

He went on to secure the Most Valuable Player (MVP) prize in the Super League.

His skills continued to delight all who witnessed it when he migrated to the United States of America. Playing under the T&T flag, Oliver emerged as MVP in the Caribbean Cup Football Tournament and his reputation won him a place on this country’s All Star Football team in 1999.

Three years later, he walked away with another MVP title, this time in the Copa Latina Football Tournament, as well as the Golden Boot award.

While in the US states of New York and New Jersey, Oliver continued his trophy haul.

He described meeting Caledonia AIA coach Jamaal Shabazz as “a blessing.”

He revealed that Shabazz’s words of inspiration caused him to fuel a new level of self-belief.

“He showed me the blessings of life and what a man could achieve within the sport. He is always there to guide me. He’s a father figure to me,” said Oliver.

The 32-year-old midfielder lauded the leadership of AIA captain Sheldon Emmanuel as well.

“He is one of the best captains you can find. He had a lot of trust in me.”

Nourished by his faith, Oliver had and continues to overcome all obstacles.

In 2007, Oliver lost many childhood friends to crime and violence, but believed God Almighty—Jah himself—kept him focused.

Judging from Oliver’s utterances, his AIA experience epitomised that of a well-knit family, but he could not forget nor deny his Bourg Mulatressse roots.

“I have to show them that appreciation by being out there, They have always supported me.”

Oliver has decided to return to his childhood club, Clico San Juan Jabloteh, where he played structured football at age eight.

“Jabloteh is my home team,” he declared. “I believe I can save some of the youths in the area...was it not for football, I might have been in a life of crime. I did not have too much opportunities. I can show some of the youths that they can achieve and they can do more than me. That’s the main reason for my return to Jabloteh. To me, its a service to the community, except that I’m playing football.

He credits coaches like “Bandy” and “Duma” for guiding youths like Hector Sam and Kurt Williams. Together with Oliver they all advanced to Jabloteh.

He reflected on the days gone when “village cups” featuring teams from Lacano in Santa Cruz, San Juan and Bourg Mulatresse were staged, and entertainment—not money—was the prize.

He said: “People came out and supported the matches. We had no cable television but we came out to see our own Gerard Lampards. A whole Village would grow a child. If my parents weren’t there somebody else would keep an eye on me.”

Oliver was full of praise for his aunt Maltina Perouse; his uncle “Pusher”; Mr Smithy who still tries to attend all his matches; Mr Witmar a born again Christian who makes time to minister to youths in the community in hope that they would choose a life free from crime; and administrators at the semi-professional club Crab Connection, who helped keep him afloat when he was “sinking.”

Oliver fondly remembers admiring former West Indies skipper and star batsman Brian Charles Lara playing football in Santa Cruz. Lara was in under 16 division; he was in the Under 12 class. It was football that introduced Oliver to West Indies all-rounder Dwayne Bravo in the same community, to which former Olympic medallist Ato Boldon was a frequent visitor.

“We were rich in sports,” Oliver boasted.

Oliver credits the Tyro Sports Club for keeping sports alive in the community.

Outside of football, Oliver loves cricket.

“My best position is that of a wicket-keeper. It’s a more active position. You are more involved in the outcome of the game,” he related.

Recognising self worth remains one of the most valuable lessons Oliver has learnt.

He said: “Only you can see how good you are. Coaches could say whatever they want to hype you, but its your self belief that makes it happen.

“Respect for the game gave me confidence. You do your work and you respect the game in all aspects.”

A former student of Nelson Street Boys RC, Barataria Junior Secondary and San Juan Senior Comprehensive, Oliver remembers all his teachers giving him one common command:

“Go to the principal’s office,” he laughed.

“I was a trouble-maker at school, but not a bad trouble maker.

“Back then, all I really wanted to do was play football.”

Oliver is a father of three who prays that his children grow up happy, love each other and live as a family should.

Jahmali, 6; Jahmekah 3; and Jahzinho, 6 months are the names of his offspring who he said aren’t bereft of his love.

“I want my children to have respect, knowledge and understanding. It’s not about riches,” he declared.

Citing all that the San Juan community had given to him, Oliver wants to help Jabloteh win more Pro-League trophies, as well as qualify and win the Concacaf Club Tournament before “taking over the world.”

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