RUNDELL WINCHESTER, Trinidad and Tobago’s teenage football sensation, is certainly enjoying life at the moment.
Not only did he win his first major trophy when he scored Central FC’s winning goal against Defence Force in the First Citizens Cup, but he also walked away with the Most Valuable Player (MVP) award.
He then recorded his first hat-trick when he netted three goals against Point Fortin Civic FC.
Following on from his first international cap — a cameo appearance versus New Zealand — he played a full 90 minutes in Jamaica where TT recorded their historic 1-0 victory.
In the return match at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, Winchester made a 25th minute appearance, creating havoc with his pace down the left flank. His pass led to Guerra’s opening goal and, when he was fouled after exploding into the Jamaican penalty box, Kenwyne Jones converted the penalty.
After so many exciting exploits over the last three months, you would expect a touch of arrogance in Winchester, but the quietly-spoken Tobagonian has kept his feet on the ground.
As part of the Central FC’s First Citizens Trophy School Tour, Winchester, together with “the Sharks” midfielder Toric Robinson, visited Esperanza Presbyterian Primary School with the coveted trophy, and was promptly surrounded by excited schoolchildren requesting autographs.
The visit involved the players, together with youth development manager Kevin Jeffrey and operations director Kevin Harrison, talking to the children about life in professional football and the opportunities that sports can bring.
“The message is very clear,” said Jeffrey, a former TT international striker; “Keep away from negative influences such as gangs, crime and drugs and focus on your school work.”
The Jamaican Robinson told the children that being good at sports is not enough. He said, “I was a good footballer at school, but if I didn’t study hard, I would still be in Jamaica. I obtained a football scholarship to the USA, but this wasn’t just because of my football ability. I had to have good grades too.”
Robinson has played his entire career in the USA before joining Central FC and has followed a similar path to Jeffrey who told the children, “I too, was fortunate enough to earn a scholarship in the USA, and like Toric, my grades had to be good to be accepted.
“If you are good at sport, you cannot forget your studies, in fact, if you’re a natural athlete sometimes you have to work harder at your schoolwork than you do at your sport.”
Winchester surprised the children when he told them he was only 19 years of age. He explained that it was difficult for him to leave his home, his family and friends back in Tobago to come to Central FC, but he is thankful that he did.
The players distributed pens and pencils provided by First Citizens to the children and staff.
Central FC will be visiting several more schools before Christmas so that more children can see the First Citizens Trophy up close.
“This is an important part of our Football in the Community programme, and something that our sponsors SIS are very keen to promote,” said Jeffrey. “The children were so excited. This is the generation who will rebuild our nation’s football. If we can get them hooked on football now, they will support Central FC for life.
We need to see thousands, not hundreds at Pro League games if we are to develop the sport to compete with clubs overseas.”