Super League champs to compete at Pro League next season
Newly crowned 2014-2015 Super League champion, Club Sando, has been accepted as the newest TT Pro League club and will compete at the 2015-2016 season, which is set to begin in September.
Meanwhile Club Sando’s youth teams at Under-13, Under-15 and Under-17 levels will have their taste at the 2015 Youth Pro League, which will run from March to July of this year.
TT Pro League CEO Dexter Skeene unveiled Club Sando, represented by owner Edison “Eddie” Dean and technical director Muhammad Isa, during a press conference at the Pro League's office in St. Augustine on Friday morning.
Skeene said that the TT Pro League’s board of directors had reviewed the application of Club Sando, who have been campaigning in the Super League for a number of years and had been successful, and saw it fit to accept the San Fernando club into the TT Pro League fold.
Buoyed by an ambitious owner/CEO Edison Dean, a board of directors that includes Steve Goopeesingh, Marlon Zoe, Derek Lange and Muhammad Isa, and dedicated players and fans, Club Sando's arrival at the Pro League is now a reality.
Isa, who said it is a very proud moment, explained that while Club Sando are very thankful for acceptance into the TT Pro League, it was something the club had worked very hard to achieve.
“Our organisation has worked very hard to achieve this,” Isa said. “Three years ago Dean called a meeting with two of the key stakeholders, which were Derek Lange and myself. Our club was approaching 25 years (of existence in 2015), and we decided that at 25 years we want to play at the highest level in the country, which is the TT Pro League.
“We started to work on it two years ago. We didn’t just want to pay our way into the TT Pro League. We wanted to come into the TT Pro League as Super League champions. The management and staff worked very hard to win the Super League and today we are very much honoured to be in the TT Pro League as the Super League champions.”
Club Sando enjoyed their best years at the Super League in the last two seasons since the arrival of former St. Ann’s Rangers coach, Anthony Streete. In 2013-2015 Club Sando finished runners-up in the both the league (by one point less) and knockout competitions behind Guaya United – another Super League outfit ambitious of entering the Pro League.
One season later Club Sando celebrates the 2014-2015 Super League title in the year of celebrating their 25th anniversary, and to top it off, the club is now preparing for the highest tier of football in Trinidad and Tobago—the TT Pro League.
Club Sando, which also fields a team in the Southern FA, will have the next eight months to prepare for life in professional football.
“We will continue to play the high brand of football that we played in the Super League and I will assure you that we will be competitive in the TT Pro League,” Isa assured. “Our coach (Anthony Streete) cares about the style of football that we play. He always emphasized that he wants people to follow the team, so he always emphasized a quality standard from the players. He wants to bring back the fans to football and that’s why we have a [huge fan support] right now because of the style of football that we produce.”
In 2013 Club Sando, which boasts a number of former Pro League players, etched themselves into history, becoming the first second tier team of the Trinidad and Tobago football system to reach the Toyota Classic Final but went under 2-0 against W Connection in the title match.
“We hope that Club Sando’s journey and their stay in professional football is long and fruitful,” Skeene said. “They have a dynamic organisation and now a vibrant brand, which is the TT Pro League. And I want to tell them that they are joining a group of like-minded individuals who have the growth of professional football at heart and who continue to work daily to ensure the sustainability and viability of professional football in Trinidad and Tobago.
“Paramount in the mind of the League is that clubs are able to honour players’ contracts and we know that Club Sando will bring value and credibility to the TT Pro League. The League has been resilient and has an indomitable desire to make professional football sustainable and viable in the long term.
“The growth pattern thus far has been challenging but continuous. We must continue to be strategic in the process and not overstep ourselves. Expansion is one of the League’s main objectives, however, it must be in key areas, strategic and community based. The Club Sando model, we feel, is the correct one for sustainability in professional football.
“Club Sando have all the ingredients to be successful and that’s why they have been accepted today into the TT Pro League. They have the correct ingredients. Their name is tied to the community of San Fernando where it is situated, and will play matches in the area that is represented by the club and players. We welcome Club Sando and we expect that their entry in professional football will bring rich rewards.”
Skeene also said that continued interests of local clubs to join the TT Pro League and even interests from abroad with investors and so on who are willing to join and add to the management structures of some present clubs, are the rewards of a committed strategic marketing plan and the vision of the League to become the best in the Caribbean and push on to rival the other merging leagues in the Caribbean and Central America.
He said that while the road has not been easy, the League is reaping the rewards of committed club owners such as Jerry Hospidales (San Juan Jabloteh), David John-Williams (W Connection) Darryl Mahabir (North East Stars), Jamaal Shabazz (Caledonia AIA), Richard Fakoory (St. Ann's Rangers) and so on, who “have given their lives to professional football in Trinidad and Tobago”.
“When other clubs see the professionalism of the (TT Pro League) clubs, they are interested in joining the TT Pro League,” said Skeene.