Anfernee Stokes was just four years old when he kicked his first football; he has not stopped kicking them ever since.
Now 18, he is the captain of the Queen’s Royal College SSFL Premier Division team although, truth be told, a serious knee injury slashed his season in half. Half a season sufficed, however, for him to claim a prestigious SportsMax Man-of-the-Match award, a source of as much joy as his injury was of sorrow.
Stokes was born and bred in the bosom of a footballing family, both of his parents having been active footballers. In fact, that football that he kicked at four—not p.m., years!—belonged to the Joe Public Academy, where his mother was a member and in which she enrolled him early ‘o’ clock.
Stokes remembers vividly the day that he learned that he had passed for QRC; he cried, he says, “tears of joy, not because QRC was a great football school but because QRC was, is a great school.” But his football would get better on the playing field at Maraval Road and he would grow in stature to become the highly respected College football leader that he is today.
At Maraval Road, though, it is never all play and no work. Stokes is, therefore, currently in his second—“and final!” he assured Wired868—year in the Sixth Form, pursuing a Business Studies combination of management of accounts, management of business, economics and Caribbean studies. With one eye on the future, he has little doubt that he will be able to continue to cope successfully with what he calls “the CAPE challenge.”
On the field, Stokes is very aware that his business is management neither of accounts nor of business but of men. And although he plays in the centre of the defence—that is where he plays as well for Morvant Caledonia United—he is a natural leader and likes to lead from the front.
Approaching each game with the utmost professionalism, he arguably shifts his focus to Modern Studies: “Every match,” he told Wired868, “is a chance to make history.”
And student of the game that he is, he knows only too well the history of Trinidad and Tobago’s struggles to reach the World Cup final before and after 2006. It is not talent, he says, that is needed “to help us reach another level, another World Cup.”
“What I think we need,” he said, “is more foundation and better coaching.”
Although tempted to enquire precisely what he thought of current National Senior Team coach Dennis Lawrence, Wired868 eventually opted not to stoke that fire.
Other noteworthy details on Anfernee Stokes:
I think I know your full name. Do you have a nickname you want to share?
Everyone calls me Stokes.
What is your date of birth?
10 April, 1999
What is your hometown?
What is one thing most people do not know about you?
My ability to stay calm in any situation
What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
All I do is play football. Even in my free time, I play football; when I’m not playing football, I’ll be watching football
What do you hope to do when you finish school?
After I finish with secondary school, I am working for a scholarship to finish my career in business studies. If not, I’ll be looking at physiotherapy or sports management.
What would be success for you as a player?
Once I reach in any professional league outside of Trinidad, I will be proud of myself because I know how hard I’ve worked to reach that far. But I’ll just have to wait to see what God has in store for me.
How would you describe yourself as a person?
I’m a very charismatic person, I am very approachable, I’m very quiet sometimes when I’m home. When I’m with my friends, I will talk, I will laugh, I will joke around. And as I said before, I’m a very calm person.
Who was your most important coach/coaches and why?
(Reflects for a moment before answering) Hmmmmm. I would say Coach Henry. At that time when I was young at Joe Public, he was the one coaching me. Because of my ability—I was age ten at that time—and I was playing with the bigger boys and he was always telling me to keep believing in myself, keep pushing. I think I learned from that and I continued pushing through to the end.
What makes you stand out as a player?
I’m a leader and I always lead from in front.
Who is your favourite player, local or foreign?
Sergio Ramos of Real Madrid and Sheldon Bateau locally.
Which is your favourite football team, local or foreign?
Manchester United (smiles)
What was your best moment in football so far?
I would say when I was selected as the captain of the Queen’s Royal College team. Wow! Unforgettable.
And your worst?
My worst moment has to be playing for QRC as the captain for the first time and we had a really poor season. Oh, it’s something I’d like to forget but I can’t forget this.
Do you have any advice to share?
Always believe in yourself, no matter what. Never give up and always give back to your country and your community.