Tue, Jul


We prob­a­bly all have our per­son­al ex­am­ples of in­di­vid­u­als who we ad­mire. Whether it be lead­ers, priests, teach­ers, coach­es or a neigh­bour, they all leave a mark on us. These cer­tain in­di­vid­u­als are role mod­els for many of us dur­ing their and our lives. With some of them, for as long as we can re­mem­ber, these peo­ple were al­ways “around” us. And with some of these role mod­els, we tru­ly be­lieve they are im­mor­tal. These leg­ends will nev­er die. For many peo­ple, Bri­an Lara or Sir VS Naipaul were such an in­spi­ra­tion. For oth­ers, it was the likes of Nel­son Man­dela or Ma­hat­ma Gand­hi, or po­lit­i­cal lead­ers like Patrick Man­ning or Barack Oba­ma.

And when these fa­mous icons de­part from this life, we read about them in the press or in books, we see videos on so­cial me­dia, watch spe­cial TV-items about their lives and achieve­ments, view all the YouTube videos avail­able and use their quotes end­less­ly to in­spire oth­ers. For me, I take this op­por­tu­ni­ty to­day to men­tion of for­mer TTFA pres­i­dent Ray­mond Tim Kee, who sad­ly passed away on De­cem­ber 8, 2019 at age 71. Af­ter writ­ing this col­umn, my­self and the rest of the foot­ball fam­i­ly had to face the un­time­ly death of na­tion­al for­ward Shah­don Win­ches­ter.

Like Tim Kee, Win­ches­ter was a very warm and so­cial hu­man be­ing. Tim Kee’s hu­mil­i­ty, kind­ness, re­spect, pas­sion and in­valu­able in­sight will re­main part of his lega­cy. He was not afraid to take de­ci­sions and made bold steps to try and re­vive the for­tunes of our foot­ball af­ter we had en­tered a dim pe­ri­od fol­low­ing the suc­cess of the 2006 World Cup qual­i­fi­ca­tion.

For Win­ches­ter, his per­sis­tence to make it to the top was ad­mirable. His hat­trick against Haiti in 2017 I will nev­er for­get and I’m sure War­ren Archibald and the rest of the T&T 1973 Squad would be proud of that per­for­mance in Cou­va.

From 2007 to 2012, we strug­gled to rec­i­p­ro­cate any kind of suc­cess and our foot­ball be­came em­broiled in con­tro­ver­sy. What fol­lowed be­tween 2012-2015, and I chal­lenge any­one to ob­ject to this, was un­doubt­ed­ly a sol­id pe­ri­od for our foot­ball on the in­ter­na­tion­al stage, clear­ly much bet­ter than what we wit­nessed post 2015 to present. Qual­i­fy­ing for the Gold Cup in 2013 and mak­ing it to the quar­ter­fi­nals for the first time since 2000, achiev­ing this feat again in 2015, reach­ing two con­sec­u­tive Caribbean Cup fi­nals, our women’s team win­ning the Caribbean Cham­pi­onship and reach­ing to with­in a point of World Cup qual­i­fi­ca­tion, our Un­der-20 men’s team win­ning the Caribbean cham­pi­onship and qual­i­fy­ing for the CON­CA­CAF cham­pi­onship and our Un­der-17 men get­ting to with­in a vic­to­ry of World Cup qual­i­fi­ca­tion in 2013. The crowds were re­turn­ing to the sta­di­ums.

Was it all smooth sail­ing? Cer­tain­ly not, but it was a pe­ri­od where we were catch­ing our­selves again. The then-TTFA boss be­lieved in those around him and was con­fi­dent enough to pass on re­spon­si­bil­i­ties with­out mi­cro­manag­ing. I re­call dur­ing the 2013 CON­CA­CAF U-17 Cham­pi­onship in Pana­ma, I had checked in­to the team ho­tel with the T&T un­der-17s and we were stay­ing at the same lo­ca­tion of the Cana­di­an team. A gen­tle­man by the name of Stephen Hart was al­so in camp with the Cana­di­ans. Tim Kee found this out as by that time, Hart’s name was al­ready pop­ping up among can­di­dates for the T&T coach­ing job. I had one sim­ple task and that was to ap­proach Hart and set up a meet­ing with Tim Kee at the ho­tel he was stay­ing a few min­utes away. The rest of that sto­ry is his­to­ry.

You get grades or marks for Eng­lish, So­cial Stud­ies, Sci­ence and Math and re­ceive medals, tro­phies and ac­co­lades for suc­cess in sport, but of­ten lit­tle is men­tioned of one’s char­ac­ter. I of­ten won­der what this means for our chil­dren, es­pe­cial­ly when re­search con­firms the cor­re­la­tion be­tween char­ac­ter and suc­cess.

We are uni­fied on­ly in our cyn­i­cism, as it seems that there are few­er peo­ple and in­sti­tu­tions our chil­dren can look up to and count on to con­sis­tent­ly do the right thing. Role mod­els play a crit­i­cal part in char­ac­ter de­vel­op­ment. If chil­dren have few­er strong role mod­els, are we re­duc­ing the chances of rais­ing a gen­er­a­tion who will do the right thing when oth­ers aren’t look­ing? We can nev­er have too many role mod­els such as Tim Kee, Man­ning, Moth­er Tere­sa, Lara, Ato Boldon or the teacher who spot­ted your abil­i­ty to en­ter­tain an au­di­ence in com­e­dy or song rather than speak a dif­fer­ent lan­guage. I read where in­spi­ra­tion pulls you to­wards some­thing that stirs your heart, mind, or spir­it. We are in­spired by a per­son, an event, or a cir­cum­stance.

Here’s to meet­ing, know­ing and work­ing with more in­di­vid­u­als with this kind of abil­i­ty in 2020.

SOURCE: T&T Guardian