Rudolph Hope, former secretary of the North Zone Secondary Schools Football League, came in for high praises when the sitting executive of the league held an appreciation function in his honour, at East Mucurapo Secondary School, Mucurapo Road, on Friday night.
Those in attendance to salute the yeoman service provided to local schools football to the 69-year-old Hope, a former teacher of the school, included North Zone chairman Anastasia Griffith; vice-chairman Derrick Phillip; secretary, Roger Martin, and assistant secretary, operations, Marlon Phillip.
Hope, of St James, began his teaching career at Arima Secondary School from 1977 and began his life in football at the school in 1978 under coach Robert Miller before moving to East Mucurapo (formerly Mucurapo Senior Comprehensive) in 1980.
Four years later Hope was elected to the position of SSFL assistant secretary to Azaad Mohammed-Khan.
Two years later Mohammed-Khan was elevated to the post of general secretary of the SSFL, which saw Hope being promoted to secretary, a position he held with great success until his retirement in 2014.
Vice-chairman of the SSFL executive Derrick Phillip, the principal of East Mucurapo Secondary held a function to honour Hope.
During his address to the small gathering, Peter Timothy, the zone's former chairman and coach of Corpus Christi Girls' College football team, praised Hope for creating and developing an avenue for minds to be moulded through sport and become better citizens overall.
Timothy noted that under the tenure of Hope, a founding member of Humming Birds Pan Groove as well as manager of Scrunters Pan Groove and Power Stars Steel Orchestra, the North Zone were the ones who led the way in the establishment of the Girls Championship Division Football.
"We started it in the North Zone and then based on its success, took it to the SSFL executive and with their help we were able to expand to the other zones, having used the North as a pilot project."
Derrick Phillip added, "East Mucurapo is the hub of North Zone SSFL activities and for us Hope is a very special individual.
"Back in 1990 when he came to the school he (Hope) was the welding teacher and manager of the school football team at the same time, and I use to marvel at him doing both jobs with great efficiency.
"As he grew into his craft and he began to rise in his role at the SSFL North Zone level to become secretary he took the zone from being mediocre to a level that other zones could look up too."
Phillip added, "He brought a level of honesty, order and professionalism to the zone and up to this day the zone is the only one that can boast of handling most of our business on our own through a number of fund-raising ventures."
"Because of the tremendous work he did with the North Zone, it was no wonder that SSFL general secretary Azaad Mohammed-Khan called on him to assist other zones on numerous occasions which was a testament to the good work he had done over the years"
As a sign of his commitment to helping the North Zone and in general the SSFL to become a better working organisation, Phillip reminded all gathered that even after Hope retired officially from the zone, he still assisted.
"In his retirement, he found more time to develop to the zone and up to this day he still contributes."
Reflecting on the zone's 50th anniversary celebrations which were held in 2014, Phillip noted that the main organiser behind the scene was Hope himself and even then he was in retirement.
On a sad note, Phillip chided those schools and officials who were not present as he felt it was necessary for them to show some appreciation for the work done by Hope in laying a solid foundation for the North and other zones of the SSFL to follow.
"Up to this day he has a very calm demeanour, and is very organised and honest as well as being hard-working and willing to lend a helping hand by doing what he does for the love of the sport.
The younger of the Phillip's, Marlon (no relation), quickly pointed out that he was a student of Hope and a member of the school's first Inter-Col winning team in 1982.
"I knew what he stood for back then and up to this day he still lives by those principles and for me it was a pleasure to learn and grow under his tenure."
"There isn't a more resourceful person than Hope when it comes to the running of affairs in the SSFL North Zone for certain and I must admit that it was sad not to have a proper function on his behalf at the astute time when he decided to officially call it quit," the younger Phillip said.