your eye on the ball; keep your eye on the ball, I half-muttered,
half-whispered my father's mantra for life, my literal silent plea, as
along with more than a million Trinidadians and Tobagonians in those
last-longest two minutes recorded in the history of the world.
did. We won. Trinidad and Tobago became the smallest country ever to
qualify for the World Cup Finals.
switch went on in this country. A floodlight drowned out the dull grey.
Instantaneously, spontaneously. From Port-of-Spain to Cedros, Arima to
Chaguanas, Laventille to Couva, Tobago to Tabaquite, people went wild with
that one second, all the hurt was swallowed up by joy. Ten and 15-year-old
children, who have grown up with the sound of gunshots and fear, marvelled
at the goodwill, at smiling, horn-blowing, happy strangers.
in flooded areas, who had lost furniture, food and livestock, brought out
their deckchairs and sat in water drinking rum and coke to celebrate
next day, thousands of people stood stoically in the rain waiting for
hours for the players to come out to congratulate them. What are we really
from the Prime Minister down, said we really needed this at this time in
our country. This victory felt like life-giving rain after a long drought.
a parched people, we came out in the streets, and held on to the victory
like a lifeline. Yes, football is the biggest sport in the world. Yes, our
Warriors have made it to the big league, the pinnacle of their career.
is a tiny country like this celebrating? More than a game. We are
celebrating what we always celebrate at times like this. A sense of
disbelief, wonder, that once again we have delved into the ashes to emerge
triumphant with a diamond.
did these boys with a fraction of the coaching, facilities, finances, and
government support that the Brazilians, the British take for granted,
emerge with this diamond that will take us to Germany?
are celebrating the fact that despite all the despair we have felt over
our fractured and divided nation, our low productivity, our maligned
carnival mentality, our high illiteracy and poverty, our quickening brain
drain, our spreading dependency syndrome, that somewhere, when we really
need it, we can find the discipline against the odds, to train as a team,
perform under pressure, and achieve an international goal.
are celebrating, because no matter how rough you call us as a people, we
are among the most civilised in the world.
Warriors, with their impeccable manners as hosts and guests, on the field
and off, and their fans, were in marked contrast to the Bahrain team and
Bahrain scored here, we sat in silence. Whenever we lose, there is no need
for security. Not a seat is overturned, not a foreign player is
are celebrating the fact that as our street celebrations spread like
wildfire after news of the victory, we looked around, each of us, Chinese,
African, East Indian, Syrian, Caucasian, and every permutation of these,
and saw a patriot, a who, despite our grumbling, our leaving and
returning, our flirtation with the countries of our ancestors, belong,
here, only here.
red we all wore was a talisman against every Machiavellian politician that
pitted us against one another, against every grudge and stereotype we ever
resorted to, because we were fearful of crime, of poverty, of the
illiteracy around us.
were able to separate the issues from people. We were able to see past the
stereotypes we'd constructed towards people and found human faces.
are celebrating because this victory has made us look with fresh eyes not
at what we might lose, but what we have, a working democracy, a peaceable,
tolerant people, even in our politicians who have put partisan interests
aside to tackle the menace of crime.
are celebrating because this victory by some precious warriors has
restored hope and the strength to pick up our buckled selves and be all we