T&T Police Service Commissioner, Gary Griffith is hoping that the 2021 Commissioner’s Cup, once given the ‘green light’ to get going in March/April will be able to unearth hidden talent in T&T.
The CoP was speaking at the launch held at the T&T Police Service Administration Building, Second Floor, Port-of-Spain, yesterday.
Among the main persons in attendance were national men’s senior team coach Terry Fenwick, Susan Worrell, events manager of National Lotteries Control Board (NLCB), and Liam Donnelly, general manager, Digicel Business.
Looking towards the staging of the next edition of the Commissioner’s Cup an upbeat Griffith said, “Let us use this as an opportunity to find hidden talent and opportunity to dream and opportunity to build relationships and just make this place a better country.”
Following a successful inaugural staging in 2019, this year’s second edition of the competition was carded for August 13-24 but was eventually cancelled due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Admitting that sports was, by and large, his first love and not law enforcement, Griffith said he has been involved in sports for decades from all levels up to the level of national teams and he has seen what sport can do for a young person, family and country.
Noting that during the 2006 World Cup, the lowest detection of crime was recorded in T&T during the two weeks after the team’s qualification Griffith added, “Sport can do that, you can very well dream, you can believe and football obviously is the main aspect and element that young men and women are involved in.
“Not everyone can be a professional footballer, not everyone can play in a World Cup Final and it’s about less than one per cent of everyone who plays football will do so at the highest level and make it as their living.
"But let's look at football not just as young men and women trying to become professional footballers as a career, but the character traits you get from sport, especially football, it makes you not just a better footballer but a better man and woman in the society.
"Sport brings character traits such as leadership, tactics, teamwork, punctuality, not giving up, and these are the character traits we want of our young people in our society.
"And through the Commissioner’s Cup, we can work in projected areas where they have never had that opportunity and now they can say, I have a chance to be part of something and I can build and develop my character through sport.
"When I look at the Commissioner’s Cup the last time it was held, unfortunately, we had to cancel it this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it wasn’t just the individual development, the community developed, you started seeing the village working and getting closer and then the communities also became closer with other communities as the gaps were bridging.
"That’s what we are looking for in this Commissioners Cup to build relationships, strengthen character and make young men and women better persons and unfortunately, there are people who try to question this and not see the value with the Police Service getting involved in something like this.
"This kind of things happens worldwide and this Police Service once I am Commissioner of Public will do all that is possible to try and help young men and women in different places, try to give them that opportunity just to dream because what we are seeing in T&T football is unless you are playing Secondary Schools football or Pro League football, you will not be given that opportunity and there is so much hidden talent out there, it is unbelievable!”
"This is what the Commissioner’s Cup is about, it allows a person who may not be in one of the top 15 schools that play in the Championship Division in Colleges League or in the eight clubs in the Pro League to be seen by the media, it gives the young persons an opportunity to go out there and be able to dream and believe."
Griffith also lauded national coach, former England international Terry Fenwick, who through his Football Factory Academy will be a key partner in the staging of the Commissioner’s Cup.
“He has played at the highest level at the FIFA World Cup, FA Cups and clubs and T&T, we are very fortunate to have an individual like this and instead of us trying to circle the wagons, what we do in this country is to try and cause hate, bitterness, divide and destroy because we are not part of it.
“But when it comes to sport and I am heavily involved in several different sports organisations just to make a difference, so let us try to build, and work together and try to respect the persons in authority and thankfully through the support of Fenwick, Worrell and Donnelly, they have played a very big part towards the success, so thank you Digicel and NLCB for providing the support that we need.
"This is not just about dollars and sense, the support that you all are providing is going to give us so much opportunity to work and go much deeper into areas that we did not go last time around, and just maybe we will be able to find one or two future national players."
Donnelly added that from Digicel's perspective they are all very excited and very proud to get involved in such a great initiative for T&T.
He said, "As a global company, we always try to work within the country we operate to try and drive community sports and work with the associations such as the T&T Police Service and we firmly believe that this a stepping stone towards helping communities and change the evident perspective of young children who will be exposed to these entities, and we also see this as an opportunity to use technology from the digital world to try and expose and get more T&T footballers on a much more global scale.
“We are also happy to work with Football Factory and we support and appreciative of the work they have done over the years to generate this type of social dynamic and improve the football ability within this country."
Football Factory Foundation founder Fenwick, who left a national team training session early to attend the launch, said he was excited to be talking about actually getting onto the football field with youths, and not just having Zoom sessions as has been the norm for the past eight months or so due to the COVID-19.
“Due to the COVID-19 virus, we have gone almost a whole year doing absolutely nothing working from home, try to get through a few issues behind the scenes with football.
"But the kids we forget, kids like Erin Steeple (MVP of 2019 Commissioner's Cup) that are not playing football on the fields any more, are not going to schools anymore, there is no leagues, there is no teams that are playing, no Pro League, Schools Leagues, it just haven’t happened, so we tend to forget that everybody is looking at the economy and looking at how things are going in business with people losing their jobs but we tend to forget there are kids out there who also have lives and ambitions.
"These kids have great ability and yes they must be able to dream about a future in football. With their skill sets they want to get out and prove themselves but due the COVID-19 virus has made it difficult and ourselves with the national team trying to bring players together it has been difficult because we have stopped-start and we have had our political issues in the background, and which kind of now have been resolved, but again it's about kids and their communities and how we can help them and fast track and give them hope and ambition to move forward with their chosen life sport and career move.
“What I would love to say is that the Commissioner’s Cup theme ‘Shoot Goals and Not Guns” is a wonderful saying that is moving youngsters away from potential gang and scary situations into sports, recognising not everyone is academically-inclined as some people have other skill-sets in life and they need to use them going forward.”
Fenwick also praised Donnelly for the phrasing “Together is Better” saying, "Of course it is because we have to work together and we have to try and make it happen together."
Noting that January 2021 will make it 21 years of living in T&T, Fenwick said when he came here January 4, 2000, within a week of arriving he was told what crabs in a barrel meant.
“I never took it on and just got on with things and we have got to start recognising that if it’s not for me, it’s not for anybody and start working together and start getting into the communities and change the old guard and change the way people's perception has been in the past as these youngsters need something brand new and positive.
“That sometimes mean rubbing some people the wrong way trying to force the issue to get results rather than just discussions that doesn’t go anywhere.”
Fenwick stated that Football Factory will provide all the technical support and they are already networking with people overseas to make the competition work as far as scholarships are concerned and they are also working on making an unbelievable win-win situation for not just the kids, players and community in having an overseas tour as a prize for the winning teams.