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Thu, Nov

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The work of the RSSR Foot­ball Acad­e­my, one of the emerg­ing foot­ball clubs in lo­cal foot­ball, was hailed at its 20th An­niver­sary cel­e­bra­tion at the Pres­i­dent's Booth of the Queen's Park Oval on Fri­day night.

The club, named af­ter lo­cal foot­ball icons Rus­sell Tesheira, Sel­ris Fi­garo, Reynold George and Sammy Llewellyn, by its founders Ruthven Charles and Dex­ter Har­ris, was rec­og­nized for more than its ex­ploits on the foot­ball fields, but rather for the de­vel­op­ment of many youths in the de­pressed ar­eas of Laven­tille and en­vi­rons, as well as be­ing a bridge among the war­ring fac­tions in the same ar­eas.

Charles, the club's in­spi­ra­tional coach said his ros­ter com­pris­es play­ers from the dif­fer­ent ar­eas in Laven­tille, as it has been their base for many years. The team present­ly cam­paigns in the North­ern Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion (NFA) at all lev­els, from youth to se­nior di­vi­sions, as well as in the T&T Su­per League. But Charles said he want­ed peo­ple to know of the chal­lenges they have faced on a dai­ly ba­sis.

"Too many times we read in the news­pa­pers about war in Laven­tille, and peo­ple from John John can't go in the Beetham, and peo­ple from Beetham can't go in John John, and peo­ple from John John can't go in St Paul Street and the back road which is Suc­cess Laven­tille and Mor­vant etc, but that is RSSR base. We are able to get the play­ers from the war­ring fac­tions and get them to go on a foot­ball field and rep­re­sent the com­mu­ni­ties. I don't think too many or­ga­ni­za­tions can boast about that, and this gives me the joy and courage to con­tin­ue."

Charles said he al­so faced chal­lenges from an un­pa­tri­ot­ic busi­ness com­mu­ni­ty which has led to him hav­ing to dip in­to his own pock­ets to car­ry the team. To date, RSSR has re­ceived as­sis­tance on­ly from the East Port of Spain De­vel­op­ment Com­mit­tee but be­lieves that with more help so much more can be achieved.

Fitzger­ald Hinds Min­is­ter in the Min­istry of the At­tor­ney Gen­er­al and Le­gal Af­fairs, and Karen Nunez-Tesheira, the for­mer Min­is­ter of Fi­nance un­der the Peo­ple's Na­tion­al Move­ment (PNM) gov­ern­ment, who is al­so the wid­ow of Tesheira, gave the as­sur­ance they will pro­vide fi­nan­cial as­sis­tance to the club.

Nunez-Tesheira who won a le­gal bat­tle against the Gulf View Med­ical for neg­li­gence in her hus­band's death back in 2004, told the gath­er­ing the le­gal pro­ceed­ings is far from over, as an ap­peal was filed. How­ev­er, she said when it is over, she will pro­vide as­sis­tance to RSSR through a foun­da­tion in her hus­band's name, as it has al­ways been her in­ten­tion to ho­n­our her hus­band since he died.

Hinds, on the oth­er hand, said he re­al­ized the work of RSSR is not on­ly about foot­ball, but re­me­di­al work, which ought to be sup­port­ed.

Charles, in giv­ing a syn­op­sis of his club, said the team won its first se­nior tro­phy in 2016 and there­after set out a plan to get out of the Queen's Park Sa­van­nah and con­quer the NFA, which they did a year lat­er.

This achieve­ment in 2017 earned them the right to suc­cess­ful­ly com­pete in the Cham­pi­on of Cham­pi­ons Tour­na­ment and book a spot in the su­per league for the first time last year where they fin­ished ninth.

The club re­cent­ly ap­point­ed Mar­lon Phillips as its youth de­vel­op­ment coach and ac­cord­ing to Charles, they will con­tin­ue to ho­n­our its past play­ers.