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Back to the communities; Pro League promises more home grounds for 2015/16

North East Stars and San Juan Jabloteh will join Point Fortin Civic FC in hosting games within their communities this season, as the 2015/16 Digicel TT Pro League competition promises a community-based focus for the upcoming term.

Photo: Point Fortin Civic supporters cheer on their team at the Mahaica Oval in Point Fortin. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: Point Fortin Civic supporters cheer on their team at the Mahaica Oval in Point Fortin.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

Pro League CEO Dexter Skeene said the top flight clubs will play more games outside of the national stadia this season with the Sangre Grande Recreation Ground, Mahaica Oval and the Brian Lara Recreation Ground in Santa Cruz earmarked for increased use.

Mahaica Oval is already a popular Pro League venue and Point Fortin will host defending champion club, Central FC, from 5 pm today. Skeene also suggested that the Brian Lara and Sangre Grande Recreation Grounds should be in use before the end of the year once security issues are smoothed out.

“Community fields are a critical success factor,” said Skeene, “and I remain convinced that when put in place it will be the catalyst to take professional football (in Trinidad and Tobago) to the next level.”

Apart from playing in more homey environments, the players have added motivation as this season sees the return of the Rawle Fletcher, Kevon Carter and Akeem Adams Trophies. The three Pro League rounds are named after these three deceased heroes and the winning team from each round will pocket TT$50,000.

The best player of each round will also be rewarded with a TT$10,000 cash prize. These incentives pale in comparison to the real juggernaut, which is the million dollar prize for winning the TT Pro League.

Photo: W Connection's Aikim Andrews (centre) tries to find way past a gang of Santos Laguna players during last week's CONCACAF Champions League action at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: W Connection’s Aikim Andrews (centre) tries to find way past a gang of Santos Laguna players during last week’s CONCACAF Champions League action at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

Defending Pro League champion, Central FC, has already laid down the gauntlet by defeating Couva rival, DIRECTV W Connection, in the season opening Charity Shield. And the likes of Civic, North East and Defence Force will be eager to upstage the Couva clubs, which both recently bowed out of the CONCACAF Champions League, albeit gracefully.

The players and teams will also have the chance to get in touch with their communities and the wider public even more through the “Helping Others is a Priority Everyday” (HOPE) program.

“HOPE was designed as part of the CSR (corporate social responsibility) of the league to get the league and clubs to give back to their communities to develop a link between them and the communities,” Skeene told Wired868.

Central FC goalkeeper Jan-Michael Williams has already jumped on board HOPE and volunteered himself to be a spokesperson for the Adult Literacy Tutors Association (ALTA).

Skeene is optimistic about the future of the 14 year old league and expects clubs to be self-sustainable and viable with the aim or returning to the wholesome community atmosphere.

Photo: LA Galaxy coach Bruce Arena (centre) congratulates Central FC custodian Jan-Michael Williams, after their CONCACAF Champions League contest. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: LA Galaxy coach Bruce Arena (centre) congratulates Central FC custodian Jan-Michael Williams, after their CONCACAF Champions League contest.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

The atmosphere inside the VIP lounge of the Hasely Crawford was a friendly and jovial one but all jokes will be put aside when the teams kick into action this weekend with a full slate of matches across the country.

 

TT Pro League Match Day 1

(Friday September 25)

Defence Force 1, St Ann’s Rangers 1 at Hasely Crawford Stadium;

(Saturday 26 September 26)

W Connection vs Police FC, Mannie Ramjohn Stadium, 4 pm;

North East Stars vs Club Sando, Larry Gomes Stadium, 4 pm;

Point Fortin Civic vs Central FC, Mahaica Oval, 6 pm;

(Sunday September 27)

Morvant Caledonia United vs San Juan Jabloteh, Hasely Crawford, 4 pm.

AboutRoneil Walcott

Roneil Walcott
Roneil Walcott is an avid sports fan and freelance reporter with a BA in Mass Communication from COSTAATT. Roneil is a former Harvard and St Mary's College cricketer who once had lofty aspirations of bringing joy to sport fans with the West Indies team. Now, his mission is to keep them on the edge of their seats with sharp commentary from off the playing field.

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46 comments

  1. That’s the basis of all international leagues

  2. Build partnerships!! If WI Sports and the proleague form a partnership for coverage not just games you will be surprise how first this thing could catch on will not give you the whole plan here !! lol but the same way ur website is an income earner and the proleague website is not its along those lines other wise hire corn soup ppl and make a commission! lol

  3. Most of the stadia in central america and europe are sport specific. I can only think of Italy where their top teams use multi-purpose stadia. And Italy’s grounds are owned by the Gov’t and not the clubs.
    We know TV media is the end goal but fans first. Btw, most local stations refuse to even pay to cover Carnival. So I am not expecting much from TV in some time.

  4. Lasana Liburd i do not know why we trying to reinvent the wheel? How many staduims wholewide are sport specific? We are missing what makes sports in the modern world sustainable and it is Tv media!! Without it we are wasting time!! Ask yourself why the NFL with a 16 game season is a 9billion dollar industry!! Thats what modern
    day sport is an industry driven by tv because it is entertainment!!!

  5. The stadiums are not football-specific. I would much prefer a nice tight ground with 2,000 to 4,000 spectators right on the edge of the field rather than kept far away by the running track and sand pit.

  6. Start with the community grounds first. Once high attendance become consistent then gradually use the stadiums and I think the crowds will follow. I hope.

  7. Go to City Gate and you will see how many people travel in Trinidad. It is extremely difficult to travel to the Ato Boldon Stadium.
    Also a Pro League crowd at a community ground would have a totally different atmosphere even without more people.

  8. Marketing ….advertising…..communication. Every successful professional league does in so it confuses me why an unsuccessful semi pro league won’t …… skeene and company dwell in the dark days

  9. Lasana as i said on anothere thread of this same story its teams forming community connections through community events etc as are done by all sports teams through out the world…The TV rights should be in partnership with a media house on a phase basis on a small station such as WI Sports if covered right that could create income both for the station and the league….and i am talking from experience which i did with the guiness street football…. the tt proleague started a website 10 years ago it has not become self sustainable but Lasana Liburd has come with wire after going similar stuff but has being able to generate increase income…moral of the story is we must study the business aspect and sport is only sustainable through tv rights, merchandising and marketing other wise we have a professional minor league

  10. Malik I agree! But should be a well phased plan to move support to stadiums! What has really been tried? We have under utilized stadiums which should become community facilities and Pro teams “OWNED’ by these feeder communities. Everywhere in T&T is ‘drivable’.. we do it for work, fetes, movies etc. If comm grounds are the answer; then the comm based Super League should be overflowing with spectators.

  11. The matches should be on state owned media. that is one of the ways the government should be helping.

  12. It is the chicken and the egg, Gordon. The media will come out when they see more public interest. So the 100 more free fans might take the league closer to a tv rights deal.

  13. I think the community fields are great! It would be great if whoever could ensure that they are smooth surfaces though.
    I don’t know what the facilities are like at all of them… but a stand/pavilion and functioning toilets would be useful.
    But I think the community field vibe would bring out more people. I think it’s very culturally Trinbagonian. And it’s always a good idea to start small and build.

  14. Lasana Liburd i hearing u all u know my thing is these moves without proper long term planning we need sustainability and that in sport comes from Tv rights a 100 more free fans make no sense if the big picture is a sustainable professional league otherwise Chabeth Haynes may just be right about the league!!! About the corn soup tho i agree said so since i worked in the league office lol

  15. The Barcelona scout will have a corn soup and enjoy himself much more at Bourg Mulatresse I think. Lol. I see more pros than cons. I think we are better off making tidy little community grounds with vibes than big empty stadia.
    We will assess how it works with the crowds and see.

  16. Lasana Liburd i hearing u all loud and clear but for sport to become sustainable TV coverage, merchandising and marketing must be the corner stone!! This thing that because we use community fields and have 300 people close to the field and vibes nice that is not PROFESSIONAL football and will not lead to sustainability. The clubs need to do their work and form community connections through school tours, events, coaching clincs etc and the league need to partner with media especially TV to put the league forward otherwise we will be creating a professional minor league…. Food for thought imagine a scout for Man U or Barcalona coming to scout a player at the San Juan ground or Diego Martin ground lets get real do not make the test easier because the course is hard let find ways to pass by rising our standard

    • But Gordon you in the TV industry and sports…there has been the push for TV be it from private entities, the league or the clubs…it’s kinda hard and a chicken or egg kinda situation because ppl don’t wanna buy in because of the lack of crowds…same for corporate sponsorship…clubs don’t have near the budget even with sponsorship to cover proper merchandising and marketing when they’re covering their bases with operational costs…not making excuses or anything but simply stating that all that the clubs and league getting “pong” for have been tried…just gotta keep trying, coming up with new strategies and persevering

    • Renee John-Williams the clubs need to form community connections through community events wheather coaching clincs, tours etc… This is as important as the on field work we need to start to study the business of the football for it to become sustainable… we have to have a vision for the league and if it is about ppl standing behind a rope 10 yards from the touch line in 2015 then so be it!! If it is about becoming sustainable
      then we need to begin to do things in keeping with that vision…. Sponsors will come on board if they get value for money which is not necessarily tied to gates

    • I know and I agree, central makes that push and as I’m back full time on the football W will be as well…

  17. After donkey years, dem now making de push for clubs to use community fields? The push should have been made many moons ago. I guess better late than never.

  18. It’s really simple are they getting that much support in the big stadia? Pretty sure they’re not so if they can generate more support in the community grounds and a bit more income why shouldnt they try it? They can use the bigger stadiums forcthe international games and their supporters are more likely to follow them there since they’re more closely connected. It’s a great idea.

  19. Hope to see Hackshaw progress. He has been doing well. Will be nice to see Akeem Garcia back on his feet too.

  20. I think they are right to compromise and use the grounds if it is better for the atmosphere and the spectators.

  21. Hackshaw, Arcia and Elton John will be my strongest contenders

  22. Nicholas Lochan Lasana Liburd we continue to look for quick fixs!! The only ground in the country up to CONCACAF Champion league standard was the national staduim but they rushing to use incomplete community grounds!! smh the course to hard so make the test easier!! So we have a professional minor league because it have more vibes at the minor league games!!!

  23. Aikim Andrews and Kadeem Corbin are two who will make
    a national impact!!

  24. Who will be the new Keron Cummings of the league (Granted he is successful in Orlando)? :'( :'(

  25. I fully endorse, but hope there’s no rush to expand community grounds into mini stadia without research and PROPER marketing of the League.

  26. Community grounds bring atmosphere though Nicholas. And that lifts standards and get sponsors excited too. Baby steps… 😉

  27. Who do you think will be the new Keron Cummings to force his way into contention? I think Tristan Hodge and Shahdon Winchester did well recently.

  28. Nice short term plan, but I don’t see comm. grounds realistically sustaining the wages & standard for a Pro League team. Hope the League does stats to prove me wrong

  29. The pro league returns….interestin as to see who take their chance with wcq coming up

  30. Goodness knows that the League needs a shot in the arm and taking the game back to the communities is certainly a step in the right direction. But who is to foot the bill for the added security that will become necessary, the League or the clubs? Shouldn’t Wired868 have asked that obvious question of the CEO?