The Sharks may not yet have kicked a ball in the Caribbean Club Championships in Dominican Republic, but they – and many locals- already feel that Hydrotech Central FC have won the hearts of football supporters across the country.
Hydrotech Central FC Managing Director, Brent Sancho, together with General Manager David Muhammad and midfielder, Jules Lee visited the Cepoint Bilingual School to present signed CONCACAF match balls on behalf of club sponsors, Lollabees to differently abled children as well as players from La academia de futbol Santiago.
“This is something we always try to do when we travel overseas” said Sancho. “While our priority is always to try to win games, as a club representing Trinidad & Tobago, we must always be aware of our ability to win hearts – not just for T&T football, but for our country as a whole”
The visit was arranged by Juan Carlos Vidal, who was previously Operations Manager at Cibao F.C. and now runs several football academies across Dominican Republic, at the request of Lollabees CEO, Sheldon Stephen.
“We built a strong bond with Cibao when we hosted last years CFU finals, which they won. The real power of pan Caribbean tournaments is that you get to meet likeminded officials from across the CFU region, as those unions are crucial to develop the game at a regional level.” Said Sancho.
Hydrotech Central FC go into action tomorrow night when they face Jamaica’s Portmore United at 6pm. The game can be watched live via the CONCACAF facebook live page. The Sharks will then face Haiti’s Racing FC on Friday at 6pm before Sundays’ 9pm clash with host club Atlantico FC at 9pm.
General Manager, David Muhammad said “This has been a rewarding experience for the club. The youngsters were so excited and it makes you realise the power that football has to touch peoples lives. I’m convinced that all of these children will grow up with a positive opinion of Trinidad & Tobago”
Muhammad, a former national team manager, added “It’s also important to thank our sponsors, Hydrotech Ltd, without whom this whole trip would not have been possible.”
Muhammad lamented the lack of support for professional football in Trinidad & Tobago compared with Dominican Republic. “These facilities are superb. And speaking with Juan Carlos, there are so many youngsters attracted to football now, it will soon take over from baseball as the country’s number 1 sport. This one academy alone has 92 children, and he has 3 others! It is clear to me that, fuelled by the support of government and local businesses, DR will soon become the dominant force in CFU and I fully expect to see them in the World Cup finals by 2026.”
Muhammad continued “We need our government and more corporate bodies such as Hydrotech Ltd and Lollabees to recognise the benefits to our communities and our country of investing in professional football.”
Meanwhile, The Sharks will hope to win over more locals tomorrow when they begin their bid to win their third Caribbean crown in four years in a tough game against Jamaica’s Portmore United, who narrowly defeated the two times Caribbean champions at Ato Boldon Stadium last year.
“Stern’s done a remarkable job, building and polishing a squad in under 5 weeks” said Sancho. “With all of last seasons distractions and upheaval, it was imperative to recruit some experienced pros such as Carlyle Mitchell, Densil Theobald, Anthony Wolfe and Cornell Glen to steady our youngsters such as Jules Lee and goalkeeper Montel Joseph”
England based Joseph has already represented T&T at youth level when he was part of the PanAm squad and together with returning favourite Javon Sample, provide a glimpse of the future goalkeeping talent that will be available to national team head coach, Dennis Lawrence.
“We’re here to win” said Sancho “But we are also aware of our responsibility to develop our young talent. We are 100% Trini, and proud of it.”