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.