Following the Soca Warriors 2-1 loss to Guyana which knocked T&T out of the 2014 World Cup, T&T football must now wake up to the reality that a Guyanese supporter is reported as saying:“dis nah lang time.”
However in the rush to ascribe blame, it is disreputable to say that the T&T Football Federation (TTFF) is to blame for T&T losing the game. TTFF is not separate and apart from its stakeholders. In the pursuit of truth that is an unacceptable stance that will only serve to push local football into unnecessary and counterproductive hysteria. The intensity of the emotional reaction to what many will deem a loss that should never have occurred is understandable. Moving forward, however, will require clarity of thought.
T&T assistant national coach Anton Corneal made the point in his post-game comments to the media that Guyana wanted the win more, had the fire in their bellies and were prepared to die on the field if that is what it took. Sport is the great equaliser. Arrogance, over confidence and disrespect for an opponent are well established pitfalls.
Anyone who has had the pleasure to interact with an ambitious Guyanese sportsman or woman will know that they work hard, and bring to the table attributes such as desire, self-discipline, a burning desire and passion for success. Case in point, on Sunday, the Guyana men’s rugby sevens team captured the regional sevens rugby championship for the sixth consecutive year. At one time, T&T dominated regional rugby but that dominance is no more. The Guyanese thrive on an ethic of taking individual responsibility for their fitness and conditioning.
They don’t go looking for or making excuses. They are not dismayed by problems, obstacles and challenges. They don’t indulge in self-pity. They are not super men or women by any stretch of the imagination but they bring the intangibles, they aren’t afraid of hard work and sacrifices.
Those responsible for local football and those, who aspire to lead must appreciate that what is needed is an intelligent, well thought out and strategic approach to the way forward. Assigning culpability and sacrificing the reputation and hard work of long serving officials on either side of the divide to progress one’s own agenda and ambitions will never solve the problems faced by local football.
Our less resourced Caribbean neighbours are no longer intimidated. They have looked into our eyes and have seen that we have gotten “soft” and lack the desire to fight to the bitter end for our country, that we lack the heart, soul and spirit of a warrior when faced with obstacles, disappointment, trials and tribulations.
In the world of sport champions are made and forged in the crucible of defeat and despair, give Guyana their due. They have earned it. They have worked hard for it. This is their time to shine. Local rugby discovered seven years ago that Guyana were a force to reckon with. Football must now wake up to that reality.
T&T football can emerge stronger. It’s not the end of the world. It may be the end of an era. No need to overact or panic. Last Friday’s loss to Guyana can either be a blessing in disguise or the beginning of the end. The days ahead will not be easy but the problems can be solved and will be solved if there is unity, cooperation and consensus. Fragmenting local football is not the answer.
This is the time for clear headed thinking. It is no joking matter the reality of what is required. Four years can be a lifetime. The search for answers and sleepless nights go hand in hand. Before blame can be distributed the first step is accepting individual responsibility. It’s the paradox of team sports.
Editor’s note: Brian Lewis is the Honorary Secretary General of the Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee http://www.ttoc.org. The views expressed are not necessarily those of the T&TOC.