Evergreen former Pro League playmaker Marvin Oliver returned to the National Super League (NSL) yesterday—after a 10 year absence—as part of an eye-raising revamp at Real Maracas FC.
The 40 year old Oliver, who won Pro League titles with San Juan Jabloteh and Central FC since leaving NSL team Crab Connection, is on his third club in this calendar year, after an acrimonious split from the “Couva Sharks” and a more muted exit from Jabloteh.
“I don’t think I had a future at Jabloteh,” Oliver told Wired868. “I would have liked to stay on but, based on how things played out, I don’t think I was in their plans. There was no need trying to hold on, so I decided to join this project.
“It might be a drop down in divisions but I don’t think it will be a drop down in terms of concentration, team play or the attitude that we approach the game with.”
It was a rough debut for Oliver with Maracas, as they lost 2-1 away to last season’s runners-up, Guaya United. But it was Oliver’s teammate and former Guaya captain, Ryan “Fry” Stewart, who was the centre of attention while Maracas coach Michael McComie—another former Guaya employee—also came in for stick.
Stewart, who spoke to Wired868 before he travelled to Guayaguayare with Maracas, hinted that his decision was partly based on financial reasons.
The gifted midfielder was the National Super League’s MVP for 2015/16 and then spent his off-season playing with Japs North East Stars in the Pro League.
But, in a surprise move, he opted to leave his hometown team for the new NSL season.
“It is a decision that I made for me and my family,” said Stewart. “But home will always be home. The door is always open.
“People are going to be upset [and] the travel will be harder. But, compared to the opportunities at North East—especially as it’s the Pro League off-season—and with the economy the way it is, I can’t just wait around.
“I have to do what’s best for my family.”
Oliver and Stewart are part of a notable overhaul at Maracas that also saw Prisons FC left back John Stewart and former Pro League journeyman Rennie Britto join the Maracas/St Joseph-based club.
The UTT duo of prolific striker Jamal Creighton and midfielder Isaiah Mejias are also due to move to Maracas next month, in a stunning show of ambition from the club that only avoided relegation on the final day of the last season.
Perhaps just as importantly, Maracas director Kester Lendor confirmed that Bankers Insurance will remain as their title sponsor this season. He explained that their change of gears on the field came after a chat with his head coach, McComie.
“We tried to have the majority of our players being home-based,” said Lendor, “but we have struggled over the last two years and that situation has proven to be untenable.
“So, in discussions with the coach, we decided that we needed a fresh injection of players to change the dynamic.”
Further east of Maracas/St Joseph, the Arima-based FC Santa Rosa outfit have also been busy, as they look to build on their sixth place finish last season.
“Last season, we had our best finish in four seasons,” said Santa Rosa president, CEO and head coach Keith Look Loy. “Everything is being done step by step. We’ve gradually added more sponsors and are looking to add more firepower on the pitch.”
Only three teams conceded less goals than Santa Rosa last season and Look Loy believes he has strengthened the “Big Cannons” with the acquisition of: La Horquetta SA defender Ricardo Cornwall, WASA FC midfielders Keron Clarke and Sheldon Nesbitt and the re-signing of their own attacker Keston “Zico” Henry.
But Look Loy, who stressed that Santa Rosa is no “flash in the pan” club, was even busier in the commercial department, as he announced Sports and Games Limited as their title sponsor.
Sports and Games should provide employment opportunities for players, marketing support, team uniforms and boots, as well as a subsidy for other team expenses.
The newly christened “Sports and Games FC Santa Rosa” have also tied up deals with Pepsi, Toyota, SAS Engineering Ltd and the Ministry of Sport and Youth Affairs.
“It’s all about gradual progress,” said Look Loy. “We are extremely grateful for the support of all our sponsors. We are not in a position to offer players any huge financial incentives but we are trying to find ways that we all can benefit.
“We are about developing the club as a whole.”
Santa Rosa opened their campaign yesterday with a creditable goalless draw away to Tobago FC Phoenix, who finished third last season.
The Big Cannons will try to build on that point on Sunday June 19, when they host Bethel United from 5 pm at the Marvin Lee Stadium in Macoya.
Real Maracas, who had just two training sessions with their full squad before travelling to Guaya yesterday, host Matura ReUnited from 5 pm at the Maracas Valley Recreation Ground on Sunday.
Stewart is looking forward to kicking on with his new employers.
“I like to always challenge myself,” said Stewart. “I have that ambition and it’s good to be in an environment where the ambition of the team is one that you agree with and understand. I hate feeling stagnant.
“I really like what [Real Maracas] are trying to achieve… Working with Mike [McComie] again was also a factor. His sessions are never boring and I always learn something new.”
After a fractious time under Central coach Dale Saunders and Jabloteh’s Keith Jeffrey, Oliver is also looking forward to the new challenge.
“In the Super League, we have to pay attention to more detail [because] everybody beats everybody,” said Oliver. “Being a Pro League player, everyone is looking at you to be a standout. It will be tough…
“I am also looking forward to enjoying playing football again. Guaya and Army, the defending champions, will be tough. But there are many sides that have been around for years and compete at a high level.
“Playing in Tobago will also be nice.”
But Oliver was clear about his goal this season.
“The ambition is to win the league,” said Oliver. “Anything short of that is against our ambition. It’s a good project. I’m excited to be back playing in a community.
“It’s a good opportunity to highlight the first capital of the country. We want to have a big impact in the Maracas/St Joseph area and go big with them.”
Defending champions Defence Force, who started their campaign with a 2-1 loss to Matura ReUnited, and Guaya would probably have something to say about the aspirations of Maracas and Santa Rosa over the course of the season.
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Nice! That combo should be entertaining.
Survival of football without government subversion will pro league survive or will it all end up to super league already top clubs are crying pull out .
Well the football in your sweet country ain’t all that competitive so my prolific goalscorer/ playmaker for life Ryan Fry Stewart can handle it eh.
Ryan Stewart making an entire year of competitive football. Is this healthy ?
Fry said that his father always regrets not playing enough. So when he finishes his career, he doesn’t want to have similar regrets
Is it healthy ?
It don’t think it is. But hope he gets proper recovery and treatment for his body.
Now that…is another question. But I remember Oscar playing at least 2 fyears straight with hardly any significant rest
Health was always the angle.
Hmmm. I’m just concerned for his well being
Oscar is getting plenty rest these days though. And more to come at Chelsea next season. Not a great example. Lol
Which 2 years were that though Amiel ?
Albeit he has access to better treatment and monitoring. Plus he’s younger.
Brazilian season into Olympics 2012. Then I think he was at confed cup 2013, WC 2014. But I just confirmed with a medical professional that it definitely is not healthy as expected. Maracas will need to monitor it
WHAT!!! my most loyal prolific goalscorer/playmaker will be representing Real Maracas and also Ryan Fry Stewart in the upcomimg season eh, well my gorgeous and intelligent family for life Bass Cleff your prolific goalscorer better win the most goals competition for the next season so that we can honor him to eh. hahaha
Zayah Mejias you on the move padna ? Look who I supporting now Ricaldo Castellano
Hahaha well is only fair Kirwin Weston
Haha nt me bai ???
Amiel FullyFocus Mutilal rumours ? Or marketing strategy ?
I guess we will find out soon enough lol
Good piece. Any additional scores would be “super”
We are not sure whether we will be covering the Super League season to be honest. A matter of resources. We would like to of course. But a bit stretched as we are committed to a few other things already.
Hire and grow man.. don’t fight the power..
We don’t pay with promises at Wired868 eh. Lol.
Lol I hear you
The super league is sounding very interesting!! Heard Dernelle Mascall also coaching a team than got a victory! Football on the rise!!
You have to add Mascall in the top right hand column Gordon Pierre. Right under “Members.”
Good luck to her and I hope she does a fabulous job!
Good victory Matura Reunited keep fighting on.
Erskine Johnson is the captain of Guaya United this season btw and has not transferred. Good luck to him!
And what does Ministry of Sport sponsorship of a super league team look like? Is it a subvention of sorts?
There is no monthly subvention from the MOS to NSL clubs.
We are essentially on our own to pay yearly 45K registration fee and operational expenses which are at a minimun 3 times that registratiln fee.
Ok. So what does ministry of sport sponsorship of a super league team look like? It’s sponsorship in kind?
Real Maracas have benefitted from the ministry’s hand out over the last few years i have to admit. We are hopeful and needing of it again this year because even though it is not enough to run ur program, it pays quite a few bills.
This is one example http://www.1stfcsantarosa.com/blog/update-ministry-of-sport-joins-fc-santa-rosa/
Wait. Hold up. The Ministry of Sport supports some teams in the super league or all?
And how come when people going off in threads about ministerial subvention for pro league clubs, nobody ever mentioned that super league clubs get money too?
It’s either you support or object to the principle of state subvention for football clubs. It can’t be support or objection depending on who’s the recipient.
I’m actually surprised to find that out now.
And at least in the pro league everybody is getting the same amount so the ministry can say it is providing a leveled playing field. Is that the case in the super league?
Richard Martin Piper and Kevin Harrison, does the Gov’t subventions come through the Pro League? Or is it strictly between club and Sport Ministry?
And what is arrangement for Super League?
Chabeth Haynes and Lasana Liburd i was on a thread d other day and was going and shoot off that to a certain gentleman who does play holier that thou but trying to control myself gladiator is other intelligent ppl who asking questions!! It have more
Personally, I obviously encourage the Gov’t to help subsidise sport eh. But of course we should have a level playing field.
Me too but this same gentleman was against the proleague getting government money against Morvant mau pau getting money to enter the league in a move that would have given two teams a first class facility to use but his team alone getting registration money in a so called sponsorship deal!! Smh i tell u
What is this 45K annual fee for though? Isn’t the pro league a one off 450k fee? If you in super league for 11 years, you end up with a higher registration fee than the pro league?
Continue asking questions my dear lady a lot of mask will fall off
Lol. You made me laugh at myself. ?
But do the women’s super league clubs have to pay the same 45k every year?
The Super League doesn’t have a women’s league. The Women’s Association runs WOLF.
Well this is an interesting thread … the things one learns on facebook.
Lasana Liburd no this was the existing pro league clubs subvention that would be reduced from 83 to 50 so it could include army and police and super league clubs as well as a parachute subvention for relegated clubs. The only real increase in ministry expenditure would be the pro league joining fee. However, even that would only be paid once and then sit there as a bond for each new club.
Why was Tim Kee’s approval even needed then? And would it mean that promoted clubs automatically get the same subvention as everyone else?
TTFA oversee the super league. Technically as the governing body they have to approve all competitions. So promotion and relegation between the leagues would need to be approved by their competitions committee. As it is at the moment there is no tangible connection between the two leagues. Yes, promoted clubs would have automatically received subvention and relegated clubs would have received a reduced 1 year parachute subvention to protect them if they had player contracts of more than one season.
I don’t understand what the Women’s association is. It’s a separate entity from the TTFA? How is it funded?
Lasana Liburd to answer your question, pro league clubs are awarded a monthly subvention via Sportt. The funding is strictly for salaries. Clubs provide proof each month of payroll and either bank statements or payslips to prove that the funds do indeed go to players and staff. Central FC also supply a monthly report on their activities on and off the field. Of course, even the $83,000 didn’t cover all salaries ( for some clubs it covered less than 50%). It is the opinion of some that govt should not subsidize pro league joining fees. While I have remained silent concerning Super League funding by govt, I will say that all the time that pro league clubs receive funding, Super League clubs should also receive some support. However, I cannot advocate an amateur league in T&T receiving funding if a professional league doesn’t. The subvention goes towards employing players and their wages are directly invested in the community. This money ( over $1 million per month) would be lost to the economy if the pro league fails. That’s without the $10’s of thousands spent by clubs and spectators.
The Super League is an important part of T&T football and should be part of a pyramid system. Every Super League team should be treated equally – either all receive funding or none.
Just to add to the above, as mentioned before, we devised a new format for football which saw pro league and super league clubs receiving funding (even army and police) and a promotion & relegation system where MoS provided the entry fee for the super league winners to join pro league. It also provided funding for pro league clubs to employ a marketing manager. And it all cost around the same as was previously being spent on subventions. But it was vetoed by Tim-Kee but it’s still there at the Ministry somewhere. The Minister should be looking for solutions rather than cutting here and dishing out funds there.
Was that money going to come out of the MoS subvention to the national team Kevin?
Understood. Sounds like a good plan to me.
Lasana Liburd it helped that Keith and his Super League colleagues met with us several times so we had a good understanding of their needs as well as the Pro Leagues and also had good input from Sheldon Phillips. The Ministry alone cannot solve these problems as they often have misconceptions and little working knowledge of individual sports requirements and priorities.
But why didn’t the MoS give the Pro League the comfort of a two or three year deal Kevin?
Since Brent Sancho didn’t do this as a club owner, it is difficult to expect the PNM to do it now in this guava season.
Kevin having a good understanding of the club’s needs is all good but the NSL clubs are in the same position today even after those 4 or five good meetings with u guys.
The meetings were productive but coming out of the meetings it was agreed that certain things needed be put in place to assist the NSL clubs going forward. This should have been sanctioned so that it would just be a question of implementation now.
Lasana Liburd we did attempt to push through a new cabinet note but in order to do so we needed most recent pro league accounts which took a while to be audited. While Brent obviously wanted to help Pro League he also had to justify the note to cabinet. It was discussed but didn’t get through in time.
Kester Lendor I agree. However it makes no sense doing things in bits and pieces. A holistic programme needs to be implemented and that can only be done with support from TTFA. I’m sure Williams is more supportive but the Minister doesn’t seem too interested. And remember, a cabinet note is not a guarantee. It can be stopped at any time.
For example, there were cabinet notes for the new mini stadiums at Ojoe Rd and Boug but this govt has chosen not to implement them.
Are Maracas and Central related in some way? They both individually acquired Bankers Insurance as sponsors or that was a collective effort?
Bass Cleff can answer that. I know Central and Maracas have a common denominator in assistant coach Marc “Passion” Leslie.
Currently though i think Bankers are not with Central anymore but they have kept with Maracas
We both acquired the same sponsor individually however we subsequently became partners when Central loaned our club some of their reserve league players last year.
Lasana Marc coaching now that’s good to hear we played together at Joe public.
Yeah. He is still playing though! Been a player coach for a few years and was one of the youth coaches at Central.
Amiel, they have definitely left Central.
Actually, Central still receive support from Bankers, however they are no longer the clubs headline sponsor.
Nice piece Amiel