Tuesday, November 22, 2005

A most profound priest - Father Harvey on the Soca Warriors

This is so important to note. He has hit the nail on the head.

A nation of Soca Warriors
Clyde Harvey

Tuesday, November 22nd 2005

Congratulations to Team TnT! Congratulations, Soca Warriors! Thanks to Jack Warner and Coach Beenhakker for their unswerving commitment to bringing us where we are! I join the people of Trinidad and Tobago in saluting your success thus far on the road to Germany! The nation is at your feet, on the road to Germany.

On Thursday morning as I prepared for Morning Prayer and Mass, I was struck by the reading of the day, read that day in Catholic churches throughout the world. It was from the Gospel of Luke, chapter 19, vv 41-44.

Did we recognise the opportunity that God was offering us at this moment?
Where will the road to Germany and beyond actually lead us as a nation and as individuals?

Already we are talking about honours and rewards. We forget what a crisis early adulation created for Brian Lara.

One temptation of the next six months will be to do everything necessary to get as many people as possible to Germany to support the team. At home, we will seek to give the team everything they need. People will want to meet them whenever possible, to affirm and encourage them in all kinds of ways.
Companies will not miss the advertisement opportunities, the presence (use?) of the team being one of the conditions for sponsorship. Indeed, some are already plotting about how best and easiest to make millions out of this golden opportunity.

What must happen? International football for the player is about skill, discipline and focused hard work. If we are not to become an angry and
disappointed nation, the Soca Warriors must become the hardest working group of skilled and disciplined men in the nation. In other words, for them fete must done, except as an occasional outlet for steam.

Was that the message we sent them on Thursday? Or were we saying to them, "No matter how tired you may be, we want a piece of you and we will have it." How many of those players felt real resentment and anger for what they were being put through on Thursday? Only their families will know how they really felt about that.

Support for Team TnT should mean that we all become a nation of Soca Warriors. For the team, to be a Soca Warrior must mean to be a person of
skill, discipline and hard work, with that capacity to laugh at oneself which is a mark of a true Trini.

Who will devise a programme for the nation over the next six months which will ask every man and woman to become a person of skill (whatever your skill may be), discipline and hard work? Who will think out of the current box of money and fete and seize this once in a lifetime opportunity to
really turn this country around? Who will look beyond political mileage and rise to the non-partisan requirements of the moment? What images will the media offer us? Will we demand certain standards of those who proudly were a jersey proclaiming "I am a Soca Warrior!"? Right now as I type the words, it is the jump-up tune that echoes in my head. Can that be tied to something more and made to work for the upliftment of the country?

Much has been said about this victory affecting crime in the country. What will be the headlines next Thursday? Will we be back to crime again?
Remember Jamaica! Jamaica went to the World Cup.
The Reggae Boys won the hearts of many with the level of their football and their rhythms. Hopefully we will do the same or better. Then what? Jamaica came home. The murder rate went past the 1000 mark and some of those same Reggae Boys are back in Kingston's ghettos. Little changed.

Now is the time to invest the term Soca Warrior with a whole new and deeper meaning, especially for the young men of our nation. It is a wonderfully masculine term. Let us aim to gather 100,000 Soca Warriors in the National Stadium in May 2006-all of them having lived lives of honed skill, discipline and hard work over the previous months. Let every school and firm in the country use these values and virtues to choose its own representative Soca Warrior for a national pre-Germany Festival of Excellence.

We should not be thinking about National Awards now. Whatever happens in Germany, Jack Warner should get a Trinity Cross or its equivalent for his achievement with football and his now legendary personal generosity to worthy causes. But not now! By the time June comes, if we use this
opportunity, we will discover other people worthy of awards who will have helped to win for this country a victory which, win or lose in Germany, can usher in a Day of Peace for Trinidad and Tobago. Will we recognise the opportunity which God offers us?

Fr Clyde Harvey is a Roman Catholic priest.

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