Corey Howard will be rooting for two teams – Canada and Trinidad & Tobago – at this year’s Pan Am Games soccer tournament.
Playing with a Scarborough club that includes some members with T&T heritage makes him aware that they wear their heart on their sleeve.
“I know that Trinidadians express their emotions in a free manner and openly support their birth country, so this will be no different,” he said at last Friday’s draw. “I will be pulling for them and Canada.”
With T&T consul general Dr. Vidhya Tota-Maharaj and Scotiabank Caribbean Carnival chief executive officer Denise Herrera-Jackson – a T&T immigrant – in attendance, the twin-island republic was drawn in the same group with defending champions Mexico, Paraguay and Uruguay.
T & T will be seeking to medal for the first time since securing a bronze at the 1967 Games in Winnipeg.
In that tournament, T&T drew 1-1 with Mexico and defeated Argentina 1-0 and Colombia 5-2 to advance to the semi-finals, where they lost 3-1 to Bermuda. The Caribbean side fell 4-1 to Canada in the third-place playoff game.
This is the eighth time that T&T is participating in the Games for Under-22 players.
The twin-island republic is also fielding a women’s team in the tournament for just the third time.
They are grouped with Mexico, Argentina and Colombia.
Defending women’s champions Canada is in the other group with Ecuador, which it plays on July 15; Costa Rica, which it meets four days later and Brazil, which it faces on July 19.
The national men’s team begins its campaign on July 12 against four-time champions Brazil.
They play Games’ debutants Panama four days later and Peru on July 20.
Canada finished fourth in the last two Games on home soil in Winnipeg in 1967 and 1999, when Scarborough-born Dwayne DeRosario scored the tournament’s first goal in a 1-1 draw with Costa Rica.
“Playing in that competition was definitely a dream come true for me as a kid,” said DeRosario, who scored both goals in Canada’s second game, a 2-0 victory over T&T.
“Having the opportunity to represent my country at the highest level was the ultimate for me. When I was called up, it was one of the greatest moments of my life.”
The United States did not enter teams in this year’s tournament to be played at the new CIBC stadium in Hamilton.
“Soccer is one of the most popular sports in the world,” said the Games’ chief executive officer, Said Rafi.
“This summer’s tournament offers fans a chance to witness top players from across the Americas in intense competition and the passionate displays of national pride that are often associated with the game.
This is what the Pan Am Games are all about.”