IT MAY be a bit of a stretch to think that the majority of citizens will respond to head coach Jamaal Shabazz’s statement that the national Under-20 female football team can “bring the nation together again”, but in these desperate times it is worth the effort to rally around anything positive associated with Trinidad and Tobago.
The fact that T&T is hosting the final round of the CONCACAF Women’s Under-20 Championships, from January 18-28, is worthy of commendation. These girls are playing for the honour of representing T&T at the 2018 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup, to be held in France.
So even though the majority of these players will be unknown to most of us, they will appreciate our support and those of us who have the time could do worse than venture to the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva, to cheer them on.
At the same time, it would counter the morbid view that outsiders may hold of T&T based on the number of murders committed on an annual basis.
So the visiting teams could get a true picture of T&T’s joie de vivre with an overwhelming turnout in backing the players sporting the red, white and black as they tackle their Group A opponents from Haiti, Costa Rica and Canada, while the United States, Nicaragua, Mexico and Jamaica compete in Group B. The top two teams in each group will move on to the semi-finals, with the two finalists and the winner of the third-place playoff qualifying for the U-20 Women’s World Cup.
Coach Shabazz did his best in rallying support for his squad at a press conference on Thursday.
Like most of us, Mr Shabazz believes T&T is in need of uplifting and is confident the team can deliver just that.
Recalling what he experienced when the senior men’s national team defeated Bahrain to qualify for the 2006 World Cup, he said: “I was not the coach but I felt a special feeling because I felt as a club coach we all had a hand in this process and this is what I want to bring our nation to.
“All our hearts are heavy because the blood is in the streets and almost no one can talk to these young people, but now Allah has given these young women an opportunity to make a statement,” he added.
“This is a time to bring the nation together again. We’ve seen how our people can come together for sport and this is what I say to these young women—we have a chance to bring the nation together, to bring all the warring factions together,” the coach said.
“We go with courage and we go with confidence,” said Mr Shabazz.
And we wish him and his players well in their endeavours and that win, lose or draw, they represent the country with pride and good sportsmanship and those supporters that come out do the same, paint a positive picture of T&T in these trying times.