“I am positive at all times,” Neveal Hackshaw told Wired868. “Negativity is not part of my language and I am determined to succeed at football.”
Neveal Hackshaw, the 19 year old North East Stars and Trinidad and Tobago central midfielder, exuded two of the most important qualities of character in our conversation: dedication and unselfishness.
Hackshaw made it clear that one of his goals is to play professional football, but not just for fame’s sake. He hopes to use it as an avenue “to help others.”
“I want to give back; I want to help persons pursue their dreams who are unable to do so financially,” said Hackshaw. “I also want to do charity work.”
Hackshaw, who was recently promoted from the U-20 National Team to the National Senior Team, was overwhelmed when he received the call.
“At this young age, being on the senior team?” asked Hackshaw. “What a great moment! It was kind of shocking but not so much as I put in the work for the call. But now though it means more hard work.”
Hackshaw’s parents have helped in his transition and words failed him when he tried to describe the value of their support. His support team also includes his best friend and ‘security detail’, right winger Shannon Gomez of W Connection.
Hackshaw and Gomez have been friends for the last two years and, according to Hackshaw, they have great synergy on the field. Gomez is another one of Hackshaw’s motivators and they push each other to succeed on and off the field.
Hackshaw told us a little more about himself:
What is your date of birth?
21 September 1995
What is your hometown?
What school did you attend?
I began at Mt Hope Secondary and then went on to Arima North Secondary School.
How would you describe yourself as a person?
I am positive at all times. Negativity is not part of my language and I am determined to succeed at football.
What is something that most people do not know about you?
If I was not playing football, I would be pursuing Sports Psychology. My uncle Dane is in that field and I always thought that it was interesting.
Wired868 has learned that your first love was actually cricket. Tell us some more about that and what actually inspired the change?
While attending Primary School I played during the cricket season. I was good at it and enjoyed it for some time but then football season came along and I decided to try my hand at another sport. When I started to play football, the excitement of scoring and winning and hearing your name being called individually was a big part of my motivation to keep playing football? Well, as the saying goes, the rest is history.
Who do you enjoy doing in your spare time? (He told Wired868 that football is his life – no parties, nothing extra – so guess what he does?)
I play football. (Besides that) I play electronic games on Playstation and the game of choice is FIFA.
What pushes you to succeed?
My parents! They are my main source of motivation!
What does their support mean to you?
If they were not part of my life, I would not have reached this far! Their support means a lot. Every and any time or place I have a game, they are always there supporting me. Anything I need they are always there providing and pushing me to succeed. I am not playing football because they want me to but because I am motivated to! I also keenly observed my father play football and this motivated me as well.
Tell us more about your family’s involvement in sport?
My father, Irwin Hackshaw, played football for Memphis Football Club and my mother, Bernadette Hackshaw, was a national netballer, also from Memphis. My 13 year old sister is also on the U-15 National Football Team and trains with St Ann’s Rangers.
How did you start playing football? What was your earliest football memory?
I remember playing football in the yard with my father. He was teaching me how to trap the ball. As far as I could remember, I was playing football since I was about 3 years old!
Who was your most important coach/coaches and why?
I do not have a favourite coach but what I can say is that I always adapt to my coach’s football and style of play. Just knowing every coach I have been under sits and studies the team and sets a team to play its best football is admirable in its own right!
What makes you stand out as a player?
I am a hard worker and I am strong on the ball – tackling, defence – it is hard to get the ball from me.
Who is your favourite player?
Lionel Messi. I like him because of his skill of running with the ball close to his feet. He plays simple yet effective football.
What is your ambition in the game? How far do you hope to go?
I want to go to Europe or the Barclays Premier League – this is my ultimate dream.
We understand that you went to Beligium last year on a trial with the club K V Mechelen. Can you tell us some more about that?
I was still playing on the Under 20 Trinidad and Tobago National Team. I was in camp at Alicia’s Palace and an agent/scout from K V Mechelen in Belgium came to look at us play. Three players were singled out, including me. We were told that we had the skill to be able to secure a contract out there in Belgium. I travelled to Belgium in October 2014 for a one month trial with the team. I took about a week to adapt as it was coming into winter in Belgium and it was cold and breathing was a bit difficult. Additionally, their style of football is a bit different to ours; pretty fast! What was different too was the way their club was extremely organized. All in all an eye-opening but rewarding experience. Unfortunately, I didn’t get that contract but there is promise of going to try out for another opportunity later this year.
What was your best moment in football so far?
During Intercol, while I was playing for Arima North Secondary, I broke my leg and was unable to play. That was hard in itself! However, just being in the stands to support my team and seeing them fight to reach the finals; that was my best moment!
What is your target for this season?
I missed some time with my club, North East Stars, but I know as a team their goal was to top the league and win the FA Cup. However, for me, I just want to play the best football I can.
As a young, obviously focused national footballer, what advice do you have for persons aspiring to become like you?
Don’t just play football but play it because you love it! When you are corrected, never feel your coach is fighting you down; they are just trying to make you better. Believe in yourself!