Clayton Morris, former captain of the T&T senior men’s football team from the 1989 era, on Friday joined his coach of that year, Everard “Gally” Cummings, as an inductee in the First Citizens Sports Foundation Hall of Fame. Cummings was inducted back in 1987.
Morris was among 11 of the nation’s sporting elite honoured at the ceremony held at the Hyatt Regency Trinidad on Dock Road, Port-of-Spain. Cummings was present to cheer him on.
On November 19, two-and-a-half decades ago, Morris led the Strike Squad—the name the national team was fondly called then—in a World Cup qualifying match against the United States at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Mucurapo. When the final whistle was blown, the match went in favour of the visitors. But that defeat spurred future athletes to work even harder and qualify for the World Cup, which was realised in an away game against Bahrain for FIFA World Cup Germany 2006.
However, Morris was not the only footballer taking the spotlight on the night. Former national captain Angus Eve, as well as celebrated striker Stern John was also in line for kudos. Inductees in the Hall of Fame were nominated on five categories: cricket, football, horse racing, netball and track and field.
Douglas L Barzey was honoured posthumously for his contribution to track and field in T&T, while Bridget Adams got the nod for netball. Having won close to $17 million worth of prizes for the owners of the horses he rode, Brian Harding naturally deserved a place in the annals of horse racing.
Cricket, however, boasted the largest field of candidates for honours—five in total. The recipients were former T&T captain Daren Ganga, former West Indies Women’s captain Stephanie Power, ex-president of the T&T Cricket Board Louise Browne-Jackson, Rangy Nanan and Bryan Davis.
Eve, 43, said being inducted into the Hall of Fame, was the furthest thing from his mind, citing that when it came to being in receipt of many “man-made” honours, he was no favourite. Having bowed out of the national spotlight, he remained vibrant in sport in his community of Carenge. He had a Foundation and worked specifically with the districts youths, while serving as president of the football, netball and cricket clubs.
“I have never been recognised like this, not even from the TTFA (T&T Football Association). I am the most capped (national) player. I never had a plaque or anything to show. I remember they had a 100-year dinner almost three years ago, and I wasn’t even invited to that as the most capped player. There are no free tickets to a game or anything like that. So for me to have this award was a total surprise. I think God give people what they deserve at the end. My joy is seeing players move on. Seven of the players who played in the game (T&T vs USA), this week, I coached them from Jabloteh…the youth level. That is the reward for me really…to see the impact that you have made. This award was a total surprise to me,” Eve said.
“Credit to the FC Sports Foundation for honouring us. Ato Boldon, Daren Ganga: all of us are around the same age. So, it shows you don’t have to die to be recognised. It’s a good thing for the kids to see, and the kids to see from my neighbourhood. Carengae is designated one of the ‘hot-spots’ and for me to come out of that area and make something of myself, it shows that other people can do it. I am supposed to go back and use what I learnt, give back, so that they could come forward and emulate the things that I continue to do. I am inducted as a player now, but I want to be inducted as a coach, too.”
Interviewed, former national netballer Bridget Adams expressed delight that the sport was still bringing joy to T&T, although it had been some time since this country won a world championship title.
“It means that all the efforts, my accolades, and all that I have earned in netball did not go unnoticed. The ultimate was this award–being inducted into the FC Sports Foundation Hall of Fame. I know that I have done a lot for netball, but I am not the one to tap myself on the ,shoulder and say, yes, you have done a lot! I am happy that others were able to recognise it and hence the reason I am awarded today. I’m really, really, grateful for that,” she said.
“What gratifies me is that there are a lot of young people now gravitating to the sport but still there is not enough. What aches me though, is that sponsors are not coming on board to assist with the development of the sports and not enough funding is pumped into netball. And, it is the only sport–team sport that is–that has put T&T on the map and that has won a world tournament, yet still netball is treated so slightly. But it gratifies me to see that a lot of young people still gravitate towards the sport and that UTT (University of T&T) is now able to offer scholarships for netballers and they can earn a degree or diploma as the case may be.”
Cricket: Bryan Davis, Daren Ganga, Louise Browne-Jackson, Rangy Nanan CMT, Stephanie Power
Football: Stern John, Angus Eve, Clayton Morris
Horse Racing: Brian Harding
Netball: Bridget Adams
Track and Field: Douglas L Barzey (Posthumous)