Paul “Polly” Regis was remembered as a true servant of the people who extended himself to become one of the main contributors to sport in TT. The former local football coach, national team physiotherapist and trainer died at age 95 on April 28. His funeral was held last Thursday at the Church of the Incarnation, Maloney Gardens, D'Abadie.
Playing as a left-sided midfielder, Regis won the National Intercol football title with St Mary`s College in 1945. He played for Maple Football Club for over a decade before joining the ranks as the coach, then years later the president.
As coach in the 1960s, Regis helped the team become one of the most successful in the country. They won a hat-trick of titles, 1967-1969, in the Port of Spain Football League. The team included players such as Alvin Corneal, Ellis Sadaphal, Bobby Sookram and Jean Mouttet among others.
Sadaphal told Newsday, “He was a very committed football personality whether it was administrator, coach, trainer or club member. A very good guy. I had the privilege of playing under him in the Maple 67-69 team when we won the Port of Spain League for three straight years. He was a very good influence on my career, a top-class guy and we lived close.”
Former national footballer Alvin Corneal recalled, “I was about ten or 12 years old when I got to know Polly, and then he encouraged me to join Maple Football Club when I was 15. During that time, I got to know him better and better, I got married and he attended. He was a coach at Maple for a pretty long time and the team was very successful. He was always involved a very peaceful person.
Corneal described him as a great organiser. “He founded the BWIA graduates team for all the older guys. We went to America a few times, Australia once and Polly was always there. Believe it or not, five or six years ago Polly was still organising Maple vs Malvern games.”
Regis was the physiotherapist for the national men's football team in 1973 which controversially missed out on the West Germany 1974 World Cup. On that team were players such as Steve David, Warren Archibald, Everald “Gally” Cummings and Selris Figaro.
He later coached St Vincent and the Grenadines men's football team. He earned the “Vincy Heat” one of their best performances in the 1981 CFU Championship placing second after recording victories against Martinique, Suriname, Puerto Rico and Guadeloupe.
In 1993 Regis became the first open heart surgery recipient in TT, since then he was an advocate for the surgery guiding many persons throughout the country on the life-changing decisions needed before and after the surgery.
Regis was an avid football fan and attended the USA World Cup 1994, France 1998 World Cup and 2006 Germany World Cup as a spectator. He was ecstatic to witness the Soca Warriors in the World Cup, after experiencing the disappointment of the 1973 campaign.
In 2012, Regis received the Hummingbird Medal Bronze for his devoted service to sports in TT.
He was described by many as a humble, genuine, kind-hearted, family man who always had a moment for a chat, especially on sport. His smooth footwork was evident on the football field as well as the dance floor. He worked at WASA for four decades and volunteered on several charitable such as The Heart Foundation and the Horticultural Society and numerous sporting committees.