In my last posting I mentioned the 1-0 win of the T&T Warriors over Bahrain. The celebrations that followed was for want of a better word, electric. Students were dismissed early from school to join in the celebrations, in some schools they set up a television in their main hall for the students to watch the game. Many left work half-day to go to their favorite hangouts, watering holes, bar and grill type places to watch the game. As was reported in the local papers, places such as these did excellent business and some cases sold out all their beer and drinks. Later that evening the Prime minister declared November 17th as a National Holiday, wish I had known that ahead of time; I could have gone out and joined in the festivities.
While we were celebrating here in T&T, in Manama Bahrain, the locals were ripping apart their national stadium. After the first and only goal was scored, the fans of the local tema began to throw water bottles, ice, and a wide assortement of bebris onto the field at the T&T Footballers and at their supporters. On the field the Bahrani players turned it into a demolition derby and were down to ten players after one of their guys got sent off. One Bahrani player had stripped the ball from the hands of our goalkeeper and kicked it intot he back of the net. Luckily, it was an illegal move and the goal was disallowed. This ticked them off even more , they had one last shot on goal but it was deflected by the keeper, and a few seconds later it was all over. The local police had to hurry onto the field to escort our players and supporters out of there before the crowd did any worse.
Back in 1989 when T&T lost to the U.S.A. the crowd in attendance applauded their win and world cup qualification. Across the Score Board scrolled the words, "Congratulations U.S.A. Good Luck In Italy!" Nothignwas thrown at them, not even a piece of paper was thrown onto the ground. American Supporters and journalists in attendance were overhwlemed by the good by the good sportsmanship displayed by our players and supporters. Fans in the national colors of red, white and black patted American journalists on their backs, congratulating them, even though they did not set foot on the field or made any plays. Paul Caligiuri, the soccer player who scored the winning goal for the U.S.A. remembers the day not just for the goal he scored, but for how he and his fellow team mates were treated after the game.
"We arrived in two little vans and walked through the crowd." After the 1-0 victory, the U.S. team had to leave in the same small vans. "I've played in Latin America and the Caribbean, where they throw rocks at you, the military police have to stop them from rocking your bus." Caligiuri continued, "Never ever did you hear people congratulate you the way people did in Trinidad. The guys started giving them paraphenalia- our shin guards, our headbands, anything. We appreciated it so much. Normally, you'd be ducking down in your seat."
Today Caligiuri is the coach of both the men and women's teams at Cal Poly Pomona. "I am rooting for them," he said the other day. In addition, he also said "I just want them to win so I can get off parole."
Well Paul, consider yourself a free man. Which just goes to show that Trinbagonians as a result of their good nature, friendliness and good sportmanship are respected by many far and wide. Also, it apprears that T&T will have additional supporters in Germany in the form of non-nationals. Colin Williamson from Scotland mentioned that considerable interest has been generated in the Warriors from Scotland. As many team members play there, many of their fans are planning to make the trip to Germany to back Trinidad andTobago in the games. How about that?