Sports Minister and Tobago West MP Shamfa Cudjoe has paid glowing tribute to former national football player Roderick Anthony, describing him as not just a gifted player but a mentor to his young charges.
She was addressing mourners on Monday during Anthony's funeral service at the Buccoo Integrated Facility, Buccoo.
"Everything we need to know cannot be taught by our teachers, and coaches play a very important role," she said.
"To be a coach, to come back after you have left school to offer your time, your talent, your resources and to bring joy, guidance and direction into the lives of another person or young people, to me that is a very tremendous attribute."
She added: "So, today, I pay tribute not just to a former footballer or to a former coach, but a father figure to many of these young boys, who probably don't have a father in their homes, showing them guidance in their lives at this time in their lives. As teenagers, you need that support and guidance."
Cudjoe said kudos are often given to national teams and "big name" players.
"But before these players become big star players, they are coached, mentored, loved and supported by people who are bigger than the game. And somebody who was bigger than the game was Roderick."
Anthony, 35, a former Under-17 football captain, died at the scene in a car accident on the Auchenscheoch-Buccoo Road on January 9.
He was the front seat passenger in a Honda Civic driven by his friend, Keith Forde, 32. Anthony was Tobago's second road fatality for 2019.
On Monday, Anthony was recognised for his work with the Scarborough Secondary School Football Under-16 and 19 football teams. His death affected the lives of the young players so much that many of them received counselling.
As a show of solidarity, members of the school's teams, made signs with words reflecting their emotions on learning of his death.
Anthony's former team-mates also attended the service.
TT Football Association president William Wallace said although he did not know Anthony personally, he respected his contribution on the playing field.
Wallace urged young, gifted Tobagonian players to pick up where Anthony left off.
"Let us try to, in every space that you occupy, bring some degree of positivity to that space, some degree of love. Let us try to bring positive change to whatever space that we occupy," he said.
"Anthony would have made his mark in trying to nurture young footballers on the island. He had big dreams to lead the youths to successful careers in football.
"Those dreams are unfulfilled at the moment but I know somewhere in Tobago, I know there will be persons that are willing to take over from where he left off and accomplish that dream that he was able to."
Also paying tribute to Anthony were his sister Natasha Rochford and nephew Marc Anthony. Pentecostal minister Dr Glenroy Frank delivered the sermon.