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As a media partner for the Caribbean American Heritage awards, I was able to interview Shaka Hislop, former Soca Warrior, international soccer player, and current ESPN Analyst. We talked about how he keeps his children connected to his Trinidadian roots while raising them in the United States.

Socamom: What are some of the things you did with your children to make sure that they stayed connected? I noticed that your wife had a gorgeous accent. Where is she from?

Shaka Hislop: My wife is also from Trinidad and Tobago.  She is from the south of Trinidad, whereas I am from the North.  Both of our families, my parents still live there, her father until a couple of years ago when he passed.  We’ve always tried to stay connected.  We’ve made every effort to try to get back to what is still our home, Trinidad and Tobago, as often as possible so that they could continue to connect with that side of the culture.

Socamom: So, in your home, do you have the music and the food?

Shaka Hislop: Yes, we have the food.  That’s all our kids are ever exposed to in our house…. And the music, although they’re at an age where they’re starting to develop their own tastes – so there’s a little bit of conflict there,  but right now my wife and I are still winning.  I’m not sure how much longer we’ll be able to win that battle.

Socamom: For any aspiring soccer players, I have two sons that play soccer – well, “football” – what advice would you give them here in the US to stay connected with that Caribbean style of playing soccer – I taught them to play barefoot – what other tips do you have?

Shaka Hislop: The thing that I feel has served me well in my career, and I played in Trinidad and Tobago, and I played here in the US for college, and went on and played in Europe on the professional level, is [that] I’ve always stayed true to myself.  I’ve not tried to be anybody else.  Trinidad and Tobago runs through my blood and it’s all I know.  I’ve tried to make that a part of not just what I do in my own personal life day to day, but how I express myself professionally, and it’s served me well over the years.