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PLAYERS who were signed by Sports and Games FC Santa Rosa owner/coach Keith Look Loy during the off-season, as well as those who came through the ranks at the Arima-based club, were essential to the team’s successful campaign in the 2016 National Super League Premiership Division.

FC Santa Rosa secured the title on Sunday, by virtue of a 2-0 victory over Guaya United at the Marvin Lee Stadium, Macoya. In the process, they maintained their four-point lead over 2015 winners Defence Force, with one round of matches remaining. 

Asked during a telephone interview on Monday about the secrets of his team’s success, Look Loy replied, “we had a hard core of players that we have built up over the first four seasons (in the Super League). 

Of our 25-man squad, about 10 of them have come through Santa Rosa from since they were kids. Just two of them in particular, who are starters and who have won national titles with Santa Rosa before at youth level, Jean-Paul Aqui-Blanc and Osei Sandy, I coached them at the Under-17 level and they won the TTFA (Trinidad and Tobago Football Association) Youth League. We had that base. 

The players who were signed by Look Loy were Keron Clarke (who scored both goals on Sunday), Sheldon Nesbitt, Quillon Dick, Ricardo Cornwall and Kevon Cornwall. 

“We brought in five new players, all of whom played (on Sunday), either they started or they came on as subs,” noted Look Loy. “They brought some extra quality and that’s why I recruited them, and it paid off. So it is a combination of a solid core built up over the years and the addition of several new elements in the course of the season.” Sports and Games became the team’s official sponsors earlier this year and Look Loy stated that the sports merchandise group plans to stay on board for the 2017 season. 

“At our (youth teams) function on Saturday, the CEO of Sports and Games Omar Hadeed told the audience that they are continuing to sponsor Santa Rosa,” Look Loy said. “It means equipment and, more than that, it gave us some financial resources to stabilise the men’s team, in terms of travelling and giving the players a stipend. 

“It’s not a professional team but we can give them something every month,” he continued. “That was a big input and we’re very happy about that. I’m happy that they’re going to continue their sponsorship.”