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Shake ghetto mentality

Live in the ghetto, but don’t necessarily be of the ghetto.

Football coach Jamal Shabazz is hoping for a change from his players. Shabazz acknowledges his 2012 Caribbean champions, Neal & Massy Caledonia AIA, are a ghet­to team but feels some players are not using their ta­lent to elevate themselves from living and other cir­cum­stances.

“We are a ghetto team, but there are still too much guys whose minds have not elevated out of the ghetto and into the thought pattern of becoming an elite athlete, so that we can transform into an entity that can tru­ly inspire ghetto youths. I look at the abilities of Nathan Lewis, Noel Williams and Keyon “Bodom” Edwards...if only these guys could change their lifestyles, rest more, eat better and live for the game. They need to give more.”

Shabazz said a player like striker Jamal Gay should be in Europe, but it is not bothering him (Gay) that he is not even in the national team right now.

“You get a sense that our guys are happy to do well locally and at Ca­rib­bean level, but the failure to make an ultimate sacrifice to become that elite athlete is holding us back.”

Shabazz said a lack of ambition might partially be responsible for Caledo­nia AIA being able to do well at Caribbean level the last two seasons but not win a match in the CONCACAF Champions League.

“The challenge in coaching is not just winning and losing. I think as a staff, we must do more to motivate and inspire the players as individuals and a group to get more ambitious. It really starts with us,” said Sha­bazz, who took Guyana to the semi-final stage of CONCACAF zone FIFA 2014 World Cup qualifiers.

Shabazz is still very enthusiastic ahead of Caledonia’s next two Champions League fixtures, against Toluca FC of Mex­­ico at the Hasely Crawford Stadium on Sep­tember 18 and Communications in Guatemala on September 23.

Caledonia will kick off their local Pro League season tomorrow at the Crawford Stadium against North East Stars.

“We are warriors,” Sha­bazz declared. “We owe it to the TT Pro League, our fellow clubs and Caribbean football to be more competitive at CONCACAF level. Two games down, but we not going to bow; we have to fight back. This is how we make our living, and the Champions League is the highest club level a player can ply his trade in the CONCACAF region.”