Brazilian Jose Luis Seabra strutted in, hugging the First Citizens Cup, as if unwilling to let it go. Seabra is vice-captain of defending champions W Connection FC, the most successful team in the competition's history.
Winners in 2004, 2005 and 2006, W Connection completed the beaver-trick in 2007, beating Neal & Massy Caledonia AIA on a pair of Jonathan Frias goals.
The 2008 edition begins on Wednesday September 3 with two preliminary playoff matches between the four bottom teams in the T&T Pro League. However, the real action starts on September 12 when the quarter-finals will be played.
The defending champs begin this year's series with a quarter-final against the winners of the preliminary playoff between Defence Force and North East Stars.
At yesterday 's launch, W Connection captain Elijah Joseph warned all opponents that the champions will be digging in stoutly and it will be difficult to wrest the title from their grasp.
"We will make it difficult for teams," the St Lucian declared. "We will try to retain our title."
The eighth edition of the First Citizens Cup series is worth $200,000, of which sponsors First Citizens have guaranteed $65,000 to the winners.
Yesterday's launch took place at First Citizens headquarters on Queen's Park East, Port of Spain, where Pro League chief executive officer Dexter Skeene outlined the League's input in developing UK-based Trinidad and Tobago professionals such as Kenwyne Jones, Carlos Edwards, Dennis Lawrence and Jason Scotland.
Skeene added that with assistance of sponsors such as First Citizens, the T&T Pro League had also produced ten current national players in Cyd Gray, Aurtis Whitley, Keon Daniel, Clyde Leon, Marvin Phillip, Anthony Wolfe, Cornell Glen, Jan-Michael Williams, Densill Theobald, and Kerry Baptiste.
He added that the local professional league employs 1,000 people, giving young footballers a chance to develop their natural talent, and feed their families.