Sat, Jan


T&T Football Federation (TTFF) celebrated 100 years at the Joao Havelange Centre of Excellence, Macoya, Tunapuna, on September 5. It was a gala night — spanning 1904-2008 — to celebrate greats including footballers, journalists, heads of leagues and referees. Among the football hierarcy present was visiting Fifa president Sepp Blatter, vice president Austin Jack Warner, Uefa president Michel Platini, TTFF president Oliver Camps and chairman of the English Football Association Lord David Triesman.

Among the referees honoured was Osmond Downer — with a plaque in which was etched One Game One World One Passion — in recognition of Osmond Downer—for his contribution to football.

In his inimitable style, debonair Downer savoured the moment with a few drinks or ‘smallies’ as he called them.

But, on a more judicious note, Downer said, “It is an honour to be recognised after having contributed to the game of football for 48 years. It is a most fitting tribute. Forty eight years is a tremendous milestone. I was driven by my love and passion for the game. It is a beautiful game. It is an honour to serve my country and the Caribbean.”

Downer held the distinction of being the youngest football referee in the country in 1968.

Downer, former president of the T&T Football Referees Association (TTFRA) and chairman of the North Zone of the TTFRA, was privileged to witness the ascendancy of the Strike Squad and the Soca Warriors. The latter represented T&T splendidly at the 2006 World Cup finals, Germany.

He paid kudos to Warner and the TTFF for recognising his sterling contribution.

“It is a fantastic feeling to know you have the respect and admiration of the entire football fraternity locally and internationally,” he said.

Downer was joined by fellow referees Douglas James, George Cumberbatch, Lloyd de Gourville, Ken Laighlin, Richard Ramcharan, Ramesh Ramdhan and Lennox Sirjusingh.

Education, football links

Downer, a former principal of St Augustine Senior Comprehensive School, was instrumental in the development of Intercol football.

The ‘Green Machine’ as it is affectionately called top honours in.

It also produced the likes of coach Michael McComie.

“I have always felt football and sport had an integral role in education. Mens sana in corporeaus sana (A healthy mind in a healthy body.)

“I believe true education and learning and can only take place when there is discipline,” he added.

He lauded the recent signing of the Memorandum of Understanding between Fifa and the University of the West Indies (UWI), at Campus Principal Prof Clement Sankat’s office, at UWI, St Augustine, also on September 5. It provides for the creation of a Fifa chair—the establishment of a Master of Arts in Physical Education and the establishment of a women’s football clinic.

“I share Blatter’s sentiments that a twinning between football and education would rebound to the benefit of the region. Education is important. T&T and the region can expect great dividends from such a partnership.”

On the flip side, Downer has always vented caustic criticism geared toward the development of the game.

In a previous article (June 5,’93) he bluntly stated it was a sad day when the Caribbean had to depend upon foreign referees for its Shell Caribbean Cup finals. He expressed the view there were enough competent referees in T&T, Jamaica and to a lesser extent Barbados.

About Osmond Downer

He was born in Gonzales, Port-of-Spain. While attending St Mary’s College, Port-of-Spain, he sustained a back injury. His dreams of becoming a star footballer were crushed. Undaunted, Downer participated in the referee’s course, and became the youngest international football referee, in 1960.

He attended the University of London, and read for a Degree in Biochemistry. He teaches Human and Social Biology at the Diego Martin Finishing School.

Downer loves curried duck and is a devotee of the History Channel. He enjoys reading and has contributed to articles to the book In the Eye of the Whistle 111: The refereeing at the 1994 World Cup. At Carnival, he assists the steelband fraternity and lists himself as a Minshallite.

Downer has travelled extensively throughout the Caribbean and Europe. Close friends like Austin Lyle and loved ones call him ‘Slim.’

He lives in Diego Martin and is married to Patricia. Downer is the father of Simone, Paul, David and Roelle.