Parting Shot: A tribute to Trinidad & Tobago

Date Published: 
Soccer International

Moko Jumbies

ANYONE fortunate enough to have been in Port of Spain, Trinidad on Sunday the 19th of November 1989 will not soon forget the experience. Yes, it was an historic event for American soccer, but it was also something far more.

The history books will show that the United States triumphed on the green turf of the National Stadium, defeating Trinidad & Tobago 1-0.

What they will not show is that there was another winner on that memorable afternoon — the sport of soccer itself.

Paul Caligiuri's tremendous goal may have captured the headlines, but it was the spirit of the T&T fans that captured the hearts of soccer lovers the world over.

Arriving at the stadium literally hours before the 3.30pm kick-off, they turned the occasion into a celebration, not just of what they believed would be their beloved Strike Squad's impending victory, but of life itself. For hours on end the stadium echoed to a calypso beat as the red-clad fans sang and danced beneath the hot Caribbean sun. It was a party, nothing less.

Almost anywhere else in the world such a crucial match might have produced a powder keg of emotions that threatened at any minute to explode into violence and ugly confrontation.

Not so in Port of Spain.

The fans, more than 30,000 strong, applauded the U.S. national team when it came out for its pre-game warm-up.

They were respectfully silent during the playing of the American national anthem.

They accepted defeat gracefully when it became inevitable.

They purposely remained in the stands until their own players returned to the pitch to accept the cheers of an appreciative nation.

All in all, it was a World Cup-winning display of sportsmanship.

With the world of soccer beset by the problems of hooliganism and cynical play, much could be learned by embracing the spirit shown by the people of these happy islands.

Soccer lnternational applauds the Trinidad & Tobago Football Federation, its coaches, players and officials and, most of all its supporters.

They may have lost the game, but they won many friends, and set an example for the rest of the soccer world to follow.