Sixteen teams from various communities in Laventille converged at the Morris Marshall Recreation Ground in Trou Macaque over the past month for some exhilarating football action in the Miscellaneous Football 7 Association of T&T Open 7s tournament.
Following the success of two previous events, the previous title being captured by Mentor Alley in February with Russell Latapy presenting the winning trophy, the stakes were high again with increased interest in the competition. Among the participating teams in the latest tournament were Boxhill Youths,Mulrain Trace, Old School, Crossroad, Bus-Up Shot, Guess, Block 22, Trou Macaque, St Barb’s, Village Council, Morgan Academy, Mango Alley, Beetham, Harlem, Alpha Strikers and Miscellaneous Laventille United. Trou Macaque would come away winners with a victory over Laventille United on penalty kicks last Sunday.
One of the features of the tournaments hosted in Laventille over the past year has been the coming together of players and supporters from rival communities. During each of the matches, many played under lights, from St Paul to Sogren Trace and Trou Macaque, players and officials could glance to the sideline and see their families and friends in support, with matches averaging between two-three hundred per game, sometimes reaching as much at 700 on the more popular nights.
Wives, girlfriends, brothers and sisters all park up on the outskirts of the field, sitting on foldable chairs, on pavements or in the pavilion looking on.It’s like a family reunion, with aunties and uncles coming together for an early evening get together with the sounds of soca and dancehall blasting in the background with camera phone flashes in between.
Matches were played three days per week with double headers and triple headers on some days. After a total of 61 matches, Miscellaneous Laventille United and home team Trou Macaque set up a pulsating clash in the final on Sunday. Both teams battled bravely but neither could break the deadlock, leading to a decide from a penalty shootout. Trou Macaque prevailed 2-1 with national futsal team player Collin Joseph and Dwayne Calliste netting for the new champions. Kareem Charles was the lone scorer for Laventille United.
Joseph was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player, receiving an award and $500 with Jaheim Ashby receiving the Most Promising Player Award and Harlem being voted the Best Disciplined Team. The tournament winners took home a cheque valued at $3,000 plus the Football 7s Cup and fifteen gold medals while the runners up received $3,000 with medals and a Trophy and third place finishers Old School walked away with $1,000 plus a trophy and medals. Harlem received $1,000 for being the most disciplined team.
Former national youth team coach, now the technical director for Laventille United, Ken Elie, spoke about the positive impact the Football 7s campaign was having in Laventille.
“It is without a doubt one of the most pleasing things to witness in the Laventille community. As you know the area has been labelled for negativity with crime, shootings, gang wars, you name it. But since I have been part of the Football 7s campaign, I have to tip my hat to the organisers, the participants and the supporters,” Elie said.
“These tournaments have created an avenue for people to come together and to unite at one venue for healthy competition. The rivalries and battles are taking place on the field of play using a football instead of on the streets with weapons,” Elie added. “We have seen some good talent as well. Russell Latapy was here at the previous tournament and he was pretty pleased with the talent and this is something we will be looking to push on with through the help of the main partner, the Miscellaneous Group,” Elie added.
The Laventille United Team, comprising of the top players from the campaign, will participate in the Northern Football Association Premier Division this year.