Sat, Jan

Kevin Molino“Success is achieved only through hard work”

Upon entering the car park in Mucurapo Senior Comprehensive, one is sure to notice these words boldly plastered in maroon letters on a wall just outside of the teachers’ lounge. This is the school’s motto.
Its strategic placement was obviously meant to ensure that students making their way to machine shop and welding classes at the back of the compound, the audio visual room in the school’s middle building, the hall to the front, or any of the regular classrooms, would have no choice but to pass it on a daily basis and hopefully be inspired.

One pupil who fully embodies Mucurapo’s principles is the captain of its senior football team – Kevin Molino. When the Arena visited him at school recently, the 18-year-old Hague Street, Carenage resident was eager to discuss his experiences as a footballer, current and past campaigns with ‘Compre’ (Mucurapo) in the Secondary Schools Football League (SSFL), and his goals for the future.

Molino, a central midfielder by trade, led his school to the 2008 BGTT North Zone title – Mucurapo’s third in his four years and his second since debuting for the team in 2006.

He has been at the centre of Mucurapo’s success this season, notching 10 goals in the league and setting up an abundance for his teammates, as the high-scoring ‘Compre’ ran rings around its opponents in the zone.

In the race for the league’s “Most Valuable Player” award, Molino has to be considered as one of the front-runners. He is by no means the most imposing figure you will come across on a football pitch, but what he lacks in size, he more than makes up for with technique and skill.

Plus the level of maturity and confidence in his play simply makes him a joy to watch.

For those who have followed his young career, brilliance on the field of play is no more than is expected of him really, and his image was enhanced even further when the Junior Warriors qualified for the 2007 Under-17 World Cup in South Korea. Molino’s 13th minute strike giving T&T a 1-0 win over hosts Jamaica.

“That was the proudest moment of my life. I remember everything clearly as if it just happened. It was a quick free-kick played to me just outside the box. I took it and hit far-post beyond the keeper,” he recalled.

Playing against quality oppositions like Ghana, Germany and Columbia at the tournament helped to highlight his and his teammates’ shortcomings, with T&T losing all three of its matches. However, this, in his opinion, was not a completely bad thing and is probably the reason the classy play-maker performs at such a high level today.

“The World Cup experience was great but it was also a real eye-opener for us. I believe further down the road we can benefit from what happened to us there. Our opponents were faster, stronger and much better prepared than us. They were ready.

“It also made me realise that I need to get stronger, both mentally and physically,” he said.

This, his third and final year as a Mucurapo player, has been Molino’s best from a personal stand-point, but as far as he is concerned, all the accolades he has been receiving will count for nothing if he does not leave Mucurapo with either the North Zone Intercol or national Intercol title under his belt.

This became even more of a priority after Mucurapo lost this year’s Big Five final 2-1 to South kings Naparima College two weeks ago.

“This is the second time I’ve lost a Big Five final. The first time was in 2006 when we lost on penalties. We started the match too slowly and we paid for it. The concentration wasn’t there.

“But I would love to win Intercol and I think we have a really good chance of doing it. We have a good team. All we need to do now is focus and put it together as a team and we can go all the way.”

Originally from Arima, Kevin moved to the Western part of the island to live with his grandmother at the age of 10. Already obsessed with football, Carenage, an area rich in footballing tradition and responsible for producing some of the nation’s most talented footballers like Ron La Forest, former ‘Compre’ player Angus Eve, and more recently, Khaleem Hyland, who was Molino’s teammate in 2006, helped to nurture his love for the game.

The San Juan Jabloteh youth team representative hopes to one day emulate his idol, Steven Gerrard, the captain of English Premiership team Liverpool, and play for one of the “big teams” in Europe. More importantly though, he wants to make T&T proud wearing the kit of the Soca Warriors.

“My goal was always to play at three World Cups. I’ve been to one already so I have two more to reach. And hopefully they will be with the senior team.”

With loads of talent in his arsenal, who is to say that the name Kevin Molino won’t, in time to come, be mentioned in football forums along with the Lionel Messis, Christiano Ronaldos and Steven Gerrards of the world. And once this youngster stays on the right path, one suspects that before long he will become a pivotal part of the Warriors set up as well.