Twenty five years ago the entire country joined the “Strike Squad” on the Road to Italy in its quest to achieve World Cup glory with a brand of soccer, inspired by myself as coach, coined “Kaisosoca”, which captured the spirit and the rhythm of the people and its indigenous music such as tassa, pan and calypso.
From toddler to senior citizen joined the emotional journey which begun a mere two years before the final match against the USA on November 19, 1989.
We got a good thing going was the phrase coined by singer Lancelot Layne and the country believed we did. Many expressed that it was the first time since we achieved independence in 1962 that they felt proud and patriotic as a nation. The entire country was united in support of the team.
The Strike Squad was an inspirational movement about self-confidence in our ability to compete with the best in the world with our own style and was a source of inspiration beyond football and within the region.
Brian Lara, a regular member of the camp and 18 at the time, went on to achieve world recognition in cricket and Jamaica made World Cup history a few years after inspired by our efforts.
Our “Soca Warriors” led by their inspirational captain Dwight Yorke and Russell Latapy, two of the key players of the Strike Squad, finally took Trinidad and Tobago to World Cup glory in 2006.
The Strike Squad, in addition to being disciplined and motivated, also was a well-knit group of committed individuals and patriots who gave their all to Trinidad and Tobago and had a deep sense of commitment to team, community and country.
They were honored by the country with a Chaconia Medal and received the Express Individual Award in 1990. Although $600,000 promised to the team, whatever the outcome of the game then, is yet to be honoured by then TTFA general secretary Jack Warner.
For the 25th anniversary, we propose to have a walk around the Queen’s Park Savannah from 9 am on Saturday November 22 as a symbol of what was represented then. We would like the country to unite and to bring peace and stability among our youth who has the potential to achieve greatness. We need more of our young people to appreciate their blessings and to have confidence in their abilities; and to experience joy, happiness and togetherness in building our nation.
November 19 is also International Men’s day, which was inspired by the Strike Squad and its founder Jerome Teelucksingh. So it is also a day to celebrate our men and young boys.
Two patriotic citizens, Frank and Diana Clarke, would like to award trophies to the players. And we have accepted their gracious offer.
We are hoping that these awards will be presented to all Strike Squad members at the end of the walk opposite the President’s House. We invite other patriotic citizens to wear white and to join us on Saturday 22 November at the entrance to Grand Stand, Queens Park at 9 am.
Editor’s Note: Wired868 will recognise the 25th Anniversary of November 19, 1989 with a series of articles from US-based poet Roger Bonair-Agard, former TTFA president Peter O’ Connor, former Trinidad Express editor Earl Best, former TV6 sport reporter and cameraman Ashford Jackman and Wired868 editor Lasana Liburd. Stay tuned.