Smiling faces. Jubilant expressions. A sense of relief.
Indeed, it was celebration time at the Hasley Crawford Stadium on November 19. T&T had booked its place in the final round of the World Cup Qualifiers by defeating Cuba 3-0.
As thousands of football fans took in the sights of success, in the distance, a mammoth flag displaying the national colours was flown high and proud. The US$4,000 flag, which measures 30 by 60 feet, belongs to the members of the Warrior Nation.
The name speaks for itself. Supporting the Soca Warriors is their ultimate goal.
For the love of country
Executive member, Anthony Valley loves his country - no doubt about it. The 35-year-old Sangre Grande native has always had a love for the game. His father is also a die-hard Warrior Nation member.
Though Valley now lives millions of miles away in New York, his passion for his country and football has never wavered. If anything, it has only gotten stronger.
Whenever the Soca Warriors take the pitch, be it at home or Timbuktu, chances are, Valley and the members of the Warrior Nation will be there, flying the national flag high.
“I can’t afford to come for every game, but I try to come for most. I’ve been to three games at home so far for this year. The last being the T&T versus Cuba match.”
So, what motivates this music publisher and father of one to leave his US residence of 15 years, to travel to Trinidad for a football game?
“I support my country in all aspects. It’s my love for my country and the sport of football. That’s why I do it,” he said.
Fair weather fans
“I would like to see T&T regain its position as the top team in the Caribbean and become a powerhouse in Concacaf,” said the former Arima Secondary School student. “We should be up there with Mexico and the United States.”
However, for the Soca Warriors to successfully attain these goals, Valley said there is no place for “fair weather” fans.
“We need to have the stadiums full at every qualifier, not just the important ones. These guys are giving their all and representing T&T. It’s disheartening to see the level of support the team gets.”
While Warrior Nation is doing its best to support all of T&T national football teams, Valley said if the players are to reach their full potential, it requires all hands on deck.
“We hope to foster better relations with the TTFF (T&T Football Federation). We also hope to attract sponsors in the near future to offset the exorbitant cost of running the club. Right now, money is coming out of our pockets. Much more can be done if all stakeholders contribute.”
Going beyond the call
As if it was not enough that these selfless men and women work tirelessly to drum up support for their fellow countrymen, the group also engages in fund-raisers and community projects. It hosted a Christmas food drive in T&T and Toronto, in 2007, the proceeds of which were distributed to the Foundation for the Enhancement and Enrichment of Life (FEEL), as well as Olympic medalist, Rodney Wilkes.
The group also donated US$500 to the Chinapoo Police Youth Club, through an online auction in 2006.
This Christmas, Warrior Nation will be donating toys and food to Phillips Children’s Home in Couva.
So, the next time you go the Hasely Crawford stadium to support the Soca Warriors, look out for the huge Warrior Nation T&T flag. In fact, you would not be able to miss it.