By Exilus Deceyon
Nov. 19, 05 --- Andrew Sabga, chief executive officer, Carib Brewery Limited, whose Carib Lager is the official beer of the Soca Warriors and who is one of T&T’s most visible corporate sponsors of the senior national team, yesterday presented the T&T Football Federation with a cheque for TT$10 million.
The money will provide assistance to the Soca Warriors over four years as they seek to build on their current success.
Sabga spoke about Carib’s ongoing commitment to sport to an audience at the Nelson Mandela Room, Joao Havelange Centre of Excellence, Macoya, which included Commissioner of Police Trevor Paul, T&TFF special advisor Austin Jack Warner, T&TFF president Oliver Camps, national team manager Bruce Aanensen, and former national goalkeeper Lincoln “Tiger” Phillips.
“There is a great deal for our country to be proud of” he said. “This is indeed a significant achievement for a nation as small and as young as ours.
“We experienced something beyond our wildest expectations. The match was breathtaking and the result more so, as it unleashed an outpouring of national pride and joyful unity that we rarely see.
“You did T&T proud and we applaud you.”
Sabga singled out coach Leo Beenhakker and his assistants, the T&TFF executive, and Warner for their contribution to the team.
Of the FIFA vice president, Sabga said, “his unwavering commitment to the development and progress of football at all levels in T&T is undeniable.”
Sabga reaffirmed his Carib’s “unequivocal support to the national squad as they go non-stop to Germany.
“He underlined the need for the unit to have the best preparation in the build-up to the World Cup, which kicks-off in June 9.
Sabga said: “We are in this for the long haul and we believe in laying the foundation for future years.
Sabga called on the players to embrace their significantly enhanced role model status to effect positive change in the youth off T&T.
Camps, the team manager during the ill-fated 1974 qualification campaign, cautioned that the team to be prepared to do its best at the tournament and thanked Carib for helping in this effort.
He called on the nation to “Let us go together to Germany.”
The announcement of Carib’s assistance evoked emotions from Warner, whose demeanour turned from being pensive to one of joy.
Warner began his reply by tracing the partnership between T&T football and Carib as far back as the campaign for the 1974 World Cup to the present and made it clear that “today’s sponsorship seems to be a matter of course.”
The outspoken Warner said that he was “thrilled and pleased” with Carib’s pledge, observing that the Soca Warriors made another bit of history by becoming not only the smallest country to qualify, but also on the smallest budget.
Warner revealed that the feat completed on Thursday with a 1-0 win over Bahrain at the Rafa Stadium, Manama, Bahrain, cost just under $5 million.
He said that qualification costs for the 31 other teams who have qualified for Germany would be in the region of $18 to 42 million.
While noting that just like the Soca Warriors’ historic victory, Carib’s action was well-timed, Warner sought to draw something other than euphoria from the event.
He asked that after all the partying and fanfare that the nation ask itself “what values have we learnt from this exercise.”
In this regard, he drew on the words of Prime Minister Patrick Manning, who conceded that “a football match has done what no politician could.”
Warner went on to promise the Soca Warriors assistance to Commissioner Paul in the fight against crime in T&T, saying “you cannot do it alone, but together we can succeed.”
Warner produced correspondence from FIFA which read: “We are pleased to inform you that your country’s national team has qualified for World Cup 2006.”
The e-mail referred to the team as the Soca Warriors, a moniker adopted earlier in the campaign, but abandoned later.
Warner revealed that the fans’ refusal to drop the “Soca” was significant and so once again it is the official name of the team on its way to German.