If you are comforted by and happy about the fall of Austin Jack Warner and the disgrace and humiliation that have come upon the one-time strongman of local, regional and world football, take note that allegations made against Warner are tarnishing the country’s reputation. No matter what your race, views, politics or your glee, he is a mirror image of T&T society, its values and principles. This country nurtured him and took advantage of his strengths and weaknesses. We pay little attention to the small things that compound over time and become big things. Ours is a society that is always looking for an easy or convenient way to get things done, pass the buck, responsibility and discipline. To illustrate the point: At 4 am on Sunday morning, Ariapita Avenue was near impassable due to crowds of people partying along the pub- and bar-invested avenue which, mind you, was once a family-oriented residential area. The unregulated conversion from residential to T&T’s version of South Beach has taken place without due regard for the law, proper planning and the rights of the legitimate homeowners in Woodbrook and environs.
The fact that no police nor wrecker was in sight meant the official start of Carnival was brought forward to early Sunday morning and not Monday morning. But, it’s a small matter—the rights and quality of life of the residents of Woodbrook. “The road made to walk on...drivers can go to hell.” Carnival making money and having a good time are bigger and more important matters. Never mind that in the very same South Beach there would have been a visible police presence, especially as all the bars, pubs and eating places set up along Ariapita Avenue would have been granted appropriate licences. It’s the national culture —turning a blind eye—cutting each other some slack, our unwillingness once there is no harm in it to let things slide. That endearing and charming culture has local football where it is today. Jack Warner was the go-to guy, Mr Fix it. No one else wanted to do the hard and thankless work, had the passion, time, drive and vision, made FIFA a study and understood the landscape better than Warner. It was perfectly normal to let things slide. He had earned the right to make the call and be trusted. After all no one else was really prepared to do anything other than talk and grandstand. Those who argued differently lacked the capacity or wherewithal to put their money where their mouths were or are. Some may have crossed swords with him but that was a small price to pay for the vaunting collective ambition and objective of World Cup glory.
Skin teeth friends
Football was no different from any other sport- those who participated had to beg, borrow or “fund it yourself. Football had evolved into an affirmation of what was/is the afro-Trinbagonian at his or her best and carried with it a proud message of identity, inspiration and motivation. Sport on the whole has that potential, but football seems to have resonated best with urban youths. Alas! As all else small things compound into big things and the danger always is that the best intentions soon become consumed by selfish interest once left unchecked. We are our own worst enemy when we are at our disingenuous best. Holding ourselves back from crossing the threshold from ordinary to extraordinary—to where we see success as our collective obligation, duty and responsibility. This will continue for a while as we are yet to understand that the rest of the world sees us not as afro or indo but as Trinidad and Tobago. To my beautiful daughter Sanian who celebrated her birthday yesterday, “Happy birthday.”
Editor’s Note: Brian Lewis is the Honorary Secretary General of the Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee http//www.ttoc.org. The views expressed are not those of the TTOC.