FORMER Trinidad and Tobago football coach and technical director Edgar Vidale believes local coaches need to be supported to allow this country's football to reflect the colour and creativity of its people.
Vidale, 88, was awarded the Chaconia Medal Silver on Monday for his contributions to sport and community service.
The Chaconia Medal is given to people (citizens and non-citizens) who have performed long and meritorious service to the country tending to promote the national welfare or strengthen the community spirit.
He was nominated by the Veterans Football Foundation of TT (VFFOTT).
Vidale was also president of the Southern Football Association and vice-president of the TT Football Association's technical committee.
Vidale told Newsday on Friday, "I feel very proud. It's a distinguished award. I also think it's a reward to me because of the fact that so many people believe I have helped them. It's a gift to want to serve people and they appreciate it as they do."
Asked what was the highlight of his football career, Vidale recalled TT's agonising second-place finish in the 1973 Concacaf Championship. TT amassed six points in the campaign while Haiti, boosted by the the infamous 2-1 victory over TT in Port-au-Prince, finished with right points.
The controversial loss saw Haiti win the tournament and qualify for the World Cup in West Germany. Salvadoran referee Jose Roberto Henriquez was later banned for life by FIFA.
"The competition was part of my highlight in serving the country, even though everybody should know it was sort of a notorious competition," he recalled. " We scored five goals (against Haiti) – all legitimate. Unfortunately, we didn't have the technology as we do now or else the goals would have stood."
Vidale said he maintains the belief that a local coach should be in charge of TT football.
"I am one of those who thinks we could produce our own coach in Trinidad. Our footballers, like any part of our culture – steelband, calypso – comes from our life. Football should have the same approach.
"The same way people recognise Brazil, Spain, England (brand of football)...People want to see (local football). I don't think a foreign coach could see that."
Vidale noted he was also a good cricketer as well.
"Most people don't know I played at a high level in cricket too. I captained the South team, at the time the most prestigious game was the North vs South."
Vidale, who was primarily a batsman, recalled playing against high-quality opposition such as former West Indies batsman Andy Gauteaume.
Browne hailed the impact of Vidale on national sports.
"It was my pleasure to VFOTT nominate him for the award for his long years of devoted and loyal service to TT football. He was also a cricketer – an outstanding cricketer – of national repute. My own view is that it was long overdue. We at VFOTT had honoured him the year before along with other national contributors.
"On behalf of VFOTT, I express my sincere thanks to Her Excellency, the President of the Republic Paula-Mae Weekes and the Prime Minister for considering Mr Vidale for the Chaconia Silver award, which was well deserved."
Browne also congratulated Jerry Hospedales (Chaconia Medal Gold) and Lincoln "Tiger" Phillips (Humming Medal Silver) on their national awards.