Angus Eve, Trinidad and Tobago’s all-time most capped player and First Citizens Sports Foundation Hall of Famer, is firm in his belief that the Trinidad and Tobago Pro League is “a massive benefit” to the twin-island republic.
The 45-year-old Eve, who is in his second season as Club Sando head coach, said that he, and many others like him, owe their lives to football through the existence of Pro League clubs, and that Government and corporate Trinidad and Tobago should realise the significance of the professional league.
“The existence of the Pro League has always been tremendous in the development of my family life,” said the Carenage-born father of four.
“A young man coming from Carenage — one of the areas considered a ‘hot spot’ — I can tell you most of my friends were not law abiding.”
Eve said with the support of his parents and later guidance from former Trinidad and Tobago national team coaches Bertille St Clair and Ron La Forest, and the late Richard Abraham, a former Joe Public and TT team manager, and others, he was able to fulfil his dream of becoming a professional footballer and captained his coountry.
A talented midfielder with an eye for goal, Eve represented Joe Public, Defence Force and San Juan Jabloteh with the same dedication that earned him the admiration of Trinidad and Tobago fans and 117 international caps for his national team.
“I had my dream that I wanted to fulfil playing professional football so I left the Defence Force,” explained Eve, who also had stints in England and Holland with Chester City FC and Roda JC respectively. “Having clubs like we have in the Pro League helped develop me and took my profession to a level where I was able to train, rest, and focus on football on a full time.
“It’s a massive benefit to have the Pro League, even more now than back in my playing days. In my time we would get one or two players out to better opportunities but now way more players breaking into professional leagues abroad.
And doors continue to open up in America, Europe, Honduras and Costa Rica because players have a base of the professional football here in Trinidad.
“I am in the second part of my football, which is coaching,” added Eve, who began coaching as an assistant to ex-England international Terry Fenwick at Jabloteh before moving to the now defunct Ma Pau SC alongside head coach Michael Mc Comie.
Eve, who went on to hold head coach roles at North East Stars, where he had title success including the FA Trophy, and St Ann’s Rangers, questioned, “If we didn’t have a Pro League …would we have this opportunity? “Professional football isn’t only down to the owners of the team,” continued the 1991 FIFA U-20 World Cup Trinidad and Tobago player. “They (the owners) are actually doing community service when you think about it, and it’s only fair the Government and corporate Trinidad and Tobago assist.
“Sportsmen don’t look at politics. I represented the national team during the time of NAR, UNC and PNM governments and the respective sport ministers during their terms would come to the airport to celebrate when we did well.
We serve our country and what we asking for is support so that the politicians can come and celebrate.”
Eve joined the call for the upgrade of grounds for use by professional teams within their communities, using reference to some clubs in England who use state-owned facilities. He said it will help the business of clubs and by extension improve the Pro League.
The former TT Olympic team coach is also of the opinion that Tobagonian players are cheated by not having a team from the sister isle at the Pro League level.
“Players from Tobago don’t have the same opportunity as their Trinidad counterparts. They don’t play at the same high intensity on a regular basis and it shows, for instance, when there is national selection because they are not accustomed to a faster level of play. Tobago is full of talent but they need to play consistently at the highest level locally.”