NATIONAL coach Leo Beenhakker has allowed Trinidad and Tobago footballers David Atiba Charles and Otis Seaton to play for their respective clubs in tonight's T&T Pro Bowl final, which could see the winners of the tournament walking away from the Manny Ramjohn Stadium, Marabella, with as much as $100,000.
The final, scheduled to kick off at 8.15 p.m., is the second match of a double-header which includes Beenhakker's Trinidad and Tobago senior national team playing Bermuda for the second time in two days in the 6 p.m. opener.
Both midfielder Seaton and right-back Charles were involved for the entire match in Trinidad and Tobago's convincing 4-0 victory over the Bermudans on Wednesday night at the Hasely Crawford Stadium.
Seaton, however, is likely to play a vastly different role tonight. Used by Beenhakker as a holding midfielder atop the T&T defence, 28-year-old Seaton is expected to figure in a much more attacking role for former champions CL Financial San Juan Jabloteh either in the middle or up front.
And Charles, who may very well pick up a contract in England in the coming season, will take his place in a well-oiled Vibe CT105 W. Connection back line.
Last year, the two T&T Pro League teams met in a very exciting final which ended in a thrilling 2-2 draw before W. Connection went on to take the title 3-0 on penalties in front of their excited fans.
This year, the clubs have played out a very close league match in which Jabloteh led all the way before two late goals gave W. Connection a come-from-behind 2-1 victory.
The 2005 T&T Pro Bowl has turned out to be the most lucrative-ever tournament in local football. Some of the success may have to do with the interest created due to the fact it is a winners-take-all competition.
Starting with a guaranteed $30,000 in prize money (courtesy Seven Seas and National Flour Mills) and a promise of a per centage of the gate receipts, the purse had swelled to $65,000 after the semi-final stage last week because of enthusiastic crowd support.
And the merger between football and entertainment seems to be working well, and once again patrons will be treated to performances from some of Trinidad and Tobago's top Soca artistes and will also benefit from several giveaways.
With the added attraction of seeing the Trinidad and Tobago national team play Bermuda in the opening game, all for a reasonable entrance fee of just $10 for admission to the uncovered stands and $20 to the covered stands, the T&T Pro League anticipate a sell-out audience which should push the overall prize money in the vicinity of $100,000.
So pleased are the T&T Pro League over the success of the tournament, they have decided to donate half of the gate receipts from the Pro Bowl final to Trinidad and Tobago's "Road To Germany" 2006 World Cup qualifying campaign.
The Pro League will also issue season tickets to all current members of the Trinidad and Tobago national team, so they can enjoy professional football at their leisure.