Charity begins in the dressing room at DirecTV W Connection.
As Connection beat a 10-man Defence Force team 2-0 for the Digicel Charity Shield at the Mannie Ramjohn Stadium this evening, announcer Wayne Cunningham informed the audience that the $10,000 charitable cash prize at stake would go to captain Jan-Michael Williams to offset medical expenses for his fiancée Candice Worrell.
Worrell was brutally assaulted while being relieved of her mobile phone in January and was comatose for nearly three months. The former beauty queen is alert, speaking and eating normal foods now although she hasn’t regained authority over her legs.
Hopefully, Connection’s gesture this evening would aid the family’s recovery from a traumatic experience.
It was a rare example today that the Pro League does not operate in a vacuum but is a part of Trinidad and Tobago’s society.
The love was not visibly returned to the footballers who kicked off the 2012/13 season in front of roughly 200 spectators.
Young patrons made full use of a bouncy castle, complete with clowns, that went up at halftime while more seasoned fans sat in judgment of present and, possibly, future national players like Defence Force’s Richard Roy, Devorn Jorsling, Rodell Elcock and Ross Russell Junior or Connection’s Shahdon Winchester, Clyde Leon, Joevin Jones and Jomal Wiliams.
The season officially starts next weekend with the first Digicel Pro League fixtures but, for all the talk of a negligent Sport Ministry, insensitive Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation (TTFF) and stingy private sector, the threat to local football by the indifference of sport fans is just as worrisome.
Truth be told, this evening did not give much reason to get excited either with both teams short on match practice while the quiet atmosphere lent a tranquil air to the proceedings.
It made Defence Force utility player Curtis Gonzales’ stamp on Connection’s Jomal Williams, just 14 minutes into the game, all the more bewildering.
Gonzales is a Trinidad and Tobago national under-23 player while Jomal represents the national under-20 team. Even the players seem to be hurting the national cause now.
Jomal, incidentally, was one of three unrelated Williams in the Connection team today, which is run by David and Patrick John-Williams with Renee Williams as marketing manager and was once called “Williams Connection.”
It was a close range shot in the 19th minute from the 20-year-old Winchester that separated the two teams at the interval though. Winchester was first to react to a cushioned header from strike partner Hashim Arcia that caught Elcock napping in central defence.
Defence Force coach Ross Russell, once described as the most gifted in his generation by none less than ex-Newcastle custodian Shaka Hislop, might have felt further aggrieved at Connection’s second goal as army goalkeeper Kevin Graham failed to keep out a speculative Jones drive in the 47th minute.
Russell opted to stick to his preferred 4-5-1 system at kick off which meant that Roy, last season’s top scorer, started on the bench while Devorn Jorsling played as a lone striker.
Roy was introduced in central midfield in the 53rd minute, with army then lined up in a 4-4-1 formation, and gave a valiant effort but Connection never looked like letting the advantage slip.
There might have easily been a third for the “Savonetta Boys” too as Jones—later adjudged “Man of the Match”—hit the crossbar and was denied by the retreating Corey Rivers on the goalline on another occasion while Winchester was inches wide after Connection substitute Andrei Pacheco played him clear of the opposing defence.
Connection did enough for the positive result in the end, though. Although Worrell might argue that Williams’ boys saved their best and most generous moment for after the final whistle.
Digicel Charity Shield
W Connection 2 (Shahdon Winchester 19, Joevin Jones 47), Defence Force 0 at Marabella
18.Jan-Michael Williams, 13.Kern Cupid, 5.Elijah Joseph, 3.AKeem Benjamin, 6.Kemuel Rivers; 8.Clyde Leon, 29.Jomal Williams (12.Gerrard Williams 75), 36.Joevin Jones; 7.Rennie Britto (16.Andre Quashie 73), 14.Hashim Arcia (17.Andrei Pacheco 46), 40.Shahdon Winchester.
Unused Subs: 22.Aquelius Sylvester, 31.Jerrel Britto, 4.Daneil Cyrus, 25.Christian Viveros.
1.Kevin Graham, 14.Cory Rivers (Capt), 5.Devin Jordan, 20.Rodell Elcock, 21.Aklie Edwards; 8.Curtis Gonzales (Red Card 14); 11.Kevon Carter, 15.Jerwin Balthazar (18.Sean Narcis 81), 12.Josimar Belgrave (9.Richard Roy 53), 17.Ross Russell Jr (6.Michael Edwards 73); 10.Devorn Jorsling.
Unused Subs: 25.Sheldon Clarke, 3.Keston Williams, 4.Marvin Jones, 19.Dexter Pacheco.