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Mexico goalkeeper Alfredo Talavera (1) throws the ball in front of Trindad and Tobago midfielder Reon Moore (13) in action during a CONCACAF Gold Cup group stage match between Mexico and Trinidad & Tobago on July 10, 2021 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, TX. (Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

SITTING in the pavilion at the Ojoe Road Recreation Ground in Sangre Grande on Thursday, Defence Force footballer Reon Moore, one of the most promising local-based players, lamented the stagnancy of the game in Trinidad and Tobago.

The Pro League, and all other contact sports leagues locally, remains a casualty of the covid19 pandemic since March 2020. The restrictions to prevent the spread of the virus have hurt the economy and proved detrimental for citizens who choose sport as a career.

In a press conference on October 17, the Prime Minister reiterated that the Government is not yet ready to reopen the sporting sector.

But there appears to be some softening of the stance as the national women’s team was allowed to host two friendly matches against Panama at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva on October 21 and 25.

Moore and football enthusiasts around the country are hoping the Pro League can kick off once more.

The Sangre Grande native, who shone for T&T at the 2021 Concacaf Gold Cup, scoring three goals, including two in the qualifiers, said he is grateful to be a member of the Defence Force as he has seen how some of his peers are struggling in the absence of club football.

“To be honest, life right now for some players is back to hell – poverty.

“They have no source of income, no football going on, everything at a standstill. You can’t go and get jobs easily, the economy slow. Some players have it real tough,” he said.

Moore said the lack of local football will affect the national team as match fitness is crucial on the international stage.

“In the (Gold Cup) tournament it showed. The lack of football had an impact. I just want the relevant authorities to try to get the football back and up running so the country can get back to where it once was in football.”

Moore said he understands the importance of the health protocols but feels a formula can be devised for football to be played in a safe environment.

“Yeah, I think once we go about the rules and regulations of the covid19 and don’t bend it, the league can be up and running and no one can be affected by the virus.”

Proud to be from Sangre Grande

Moore, whose dream is to play abroad, remains passionate about football in Sangre Grande and feels proud to represent the northeast region.

“It means the world to me. Since Anthony Wolfe and Collin Samuel up in the northeast, we haven’t had a player in the national senior team, so it means a lot.”

Asked if he feels like a local celebrity now, Moore said, “People don’t treat me different. It’s just the same love and respect.”

He said there are a lot of players in Sangre Grande who have the talent to be successful, but just not the opportunity.

Talking animatedly as he mentioned a couple of names, Moore is hoping to help them realise their potential.

Looking at the Ojoe Road field, with overgrown grass, and a mossy jogging track, Moore called for better maintenance of the field. Nevertheless, he said the ground brought back fond memories.

“This takes me back to age six, anywhere around there, where my football career started. It means a lot to me and my family because this is the ground where I first nurtured my talent. I played for North East Stars, Matura Reunited, Sangre Grande Secondary on this very ground.”

The 25-year-old, who made his debut under former national coach Dennis “Tallest” Lawrence, trained under successor Terry Fenwick but was surprisingly absent from his final squads.

“Yeah, I was quite disappointed not making the final cut but I had no control over it.

“I stayed motivated by praying, working hard and knowing I had to do this for my family.”

He said he was not surprised when he got a call from new national coach Angus Eve.

“From the last Pro League to now, I am the leading goalscorer, most assists. It was inevitable to get the call. I just know once I get my chance again I was taking it with both hands. I just want to seal my spot and be a player for the next five to ten years.”

Moore said his family remains his source of inspiration.

“Meh family means a lot to me. Meh mom, meh dad and meh brother, four of us live together. They mean a lot to me from small; growing up, things been tough with us and now we can see a little light at the end of the tunnel.

“One day we will be where we want to be. They always give me that support, even though they can’t come to the games they will give me calls, give me that love, and I appreciate it.”

Maiden T&T goal was planned

Recalling his maiden international goal against Montserrat, Moore said the goal, which was assisted by fellow substitute Duane Muckette, was drawn up between the pair on the sidelines.

“When coach send me and Muckette to warm up, Muckette said as soon as he pick it up to make the run and he will give it to meh. Just as we say it in the sideline, just so it happen in the game. I just seized the opportunity and words can’t really express the feeling of scoring your first international goal.”

Although being showered with praise on social media and from friends and family, Moore remembers some advice he received.

“Everybody was happy for me, knowing the kind of work I does put in and seeing it actually pay off. They tell me embrace the moment and continue working hard because what you do today already done – yuh gotta keep doing it.”

Moore was elated to see Eve, his former coach at North East Stars, retained as national men’s coach by the T&T Football Association normalisation committee.

“I think Angus Eve is a great coach. He took me when I finish secondary school, at North East Stars, and he started nurturing and developing my career.

“Seeing the short space of time he had to get us qualified to the Gold Cup, I think he did a tremendous job to get the men motivated and fired up to perform because the football was on a low. He did tremendous for the country, for the local coaches, the players and for himself.”

Moore believes being a member of the Defence Force, the reigning Pro League champions, has helped him become a better footballer.

“I’d like to say thanks to T&T Defence Force for allowing me to play football at the highest level – for believing in me, nurturing me. Getting my first senior call-up as a Defence Force player, I think they have had a great impact in my life. I would recommend any young person to join the Defence Force”

SOURCE: T&T Newsday