“We demand top performances from our team, so it’s only fair that we should in turn be top supporters.
“At the end of the day, the reality is that the team will need all the support it can get in order to beat the best in the region, so that we can rub shoulders with the best in the world in 2018.”
The following Letter to the Editor was submitted to Wired868 by former Trinidad and Tobago national youth team goalkeeper, Thorne Holder:
Dear Soca Warriors Fans,
Historically, we are one of the most animated and die hard fans in CONCACAF. It is with great love and appreciation that I am addressing you today. We’re at the business end of the World Cup Qualifying campaign for Russia 2018 and, like 2006, we have a real good chance of making it to Russia 2018.
The Warriors have negotiated the tricky early rounds and have made into the final six—the ‘HEX’. A massive shout out must go to the passionate die-hard supporters among us who have as much at stake in the team’s progress as the committed players, coaches and staff.
However there is a worrying trend that I’ve witnessed emerging from certain sections of our ‘supporters’.
In our last home WC Qualifier against Guatemala, some of the loudest noises coming from the crowd—barring the euphoria of the goals, of course—were the groans of dissatisfaction and collective ‘steups’ when an error was made by one of our very own.
We are an upfront and generally honest nation, and we do not put water in our mouths when we have a strong opinion. So we are the first to let someone know when their actions and attitudes are not up to par. But when we gather in the stadium to support the Warriors, we become something more than just another opinion. We become something more than just another Trinbagonian.
When we find ourselves in the stands at a live Football event, we become an extension of the team, we become an extension of the coaches, we become an extension of all the hard training that went into pre-season [and] all the tough loses that had to be endured, we all endured.
When our National Anthem is finished and the referee is getting ready to blow the whistle, we, the Soca Warrior in the stands, must also get ready. Because we are home!
And when another team enters our land, touches our soil and emerges within the confines of our stadium, they must feel like they have entered into the Colosseum of Gladiators and every man, woman and child in the crowd, a dragon waiting to devour them if they dare to step off the field, where there are such things as rules.
This is Home Field Advantage, and it is a tangible atmosphere, that plays a significant part of a team’s success. We need this advantage, and we need our fans to take that responsibility.
I’m not saying that we should accept abject performances, but an encouraging word is far more helpful than chastisement. As a former player and avid supporter, I can’t emphasise enough—through first-hand experience—how important it is to have the crowd behind you.
This simply doesn’t mean filling the stadium, ‘checking-in’ on Facebook and taking selfies to prove that you were there. Rather, it means roaring the team onto the pitch for the warm-up and start of play.
It means cheering every passing sequence, defensive clearance, header, save, shot, throw-in and free kick won. While, at the same time, jeering the opposition [when they are] in possession and whenever they appear to be getting on top. The referee must also feel the heat and be pressured to make ‘home decisions.’ Therein lies ‘home advantage’.
It’s notoriously difficult to get results on the road in CONCACAF. This makes it all the more critical that maximum points are earned at home since away points are generally seen as a bonus.
We demand top performances from our team, so it’s only fair that we should in turn be top supporters. At the end of the day, the reality is that the team will need all the support it can get in order to beat the best in the region, so that we can rub shoulders with the best in the world in 2018.
Our country is desperate for something to feel awesome about. This is a unique opportunity for us all to contribute to Trinidad and Tobago’s unification through the power of sport.
Didier Drogba and his teammates successfully appealed to their countrymen to end an all-out five year civil war in the Ivory Coast after they qualified for the 2006 finals. Perhaps we can similarly utilise that positive sentiment to curb some of the ills plaguing our current society.
The TTFA has been making arrangements to get fans into the venue from several community centres, so let’s turn up and show the world what warriors do, how warriors win, and what it means to have a “Home Field Advantage.”
Bring the family and celebrate the beautiful game of football, as Trinidad and Tobago makes her way to the 2018 World Cup in Russia.