Oliver Camps, the former T&T Football Association president was hailed as the best leader of local football ever.
At his funeral service yesterday at the St Finbar's RC Church in Diego Martin, his close friend and colleague Jack Warner sought to dismissed a raging debate of who the best football administrator in T&T is/was, saying "He performed a role in football that no other president has performed, can perform and will perform." He explained that under 'Ollie,' as he was affectionately called, the country went to four FIFA World Cups, including the dream team 1991, in 2006 where T&T became the smallest country to play at the tournament, the under-17 world cup in 2007, and two years later in 2009 with the country's under-20 team in Egypt.
The two share a 49-year friendship that entailed many laughs and cries, but Warner who was adviser to his friend at the then football federation for many years, believes the nation may have let him down at a time when he needed it the most, as he mortgaged his house to cover the salaries of Dutch coach Wim Rijsbergen but lost it.
At a service that comprised a wide cross-section of the football fraternity, such as Harold Taylor, the former Caribbean Football Union (CFU) president, Raymond Tim Kee, Alvin Corneal, Richard Groden, a former general secretary of the TTFF, David John-Williams, Peter O'Connor, Lester Osuna, the trainer for the Strike Squad, national coach Dennis Lawrence, Clint Marcelle, Selby Browne, Clayton Ince, Jamaal Shabazz, Ross Russell and the members of the famous 1989 Strike Squad among others, Camps was hailed a builder of persons.
His daughter Sandra Camps in her Eulogy remembered him as an uncompromising family man and friend to many, who gave his life to football and God. Following his birth on April 5, 1931, he was positioned as the second-to-last in a family of nine, all of whom died before him. Sandra who delivered the eulogy alongside her cousin Elizabeth Camps said his passing on January 1 brought an end to an entire generation.
He was a lover of his family, dancing and sports, making daily visits to the Harvard Sports Club before he returned home from work. Camps met many friends at Harvard as he was among the chief organisers of events there. However, it was in the sport of football that he made his greatest impact on the nation, as a manager of the country's football teams, before his elevation to president.
According to Elizabeth, whether he was the best football administrator was up for much debate, but he was definitely committed to the development of the sport.
"What we can attest to was his commitment to teams of different World Cup tournaments. He spoke to me about the 1974 World Cup campaign and the struggles the players have had to endure, and in some ways things are not as different as they are now, lack of support for players, no uniforms, no football boots and some players struggled to feed themselves nutritiously as they should," Elizabeth explained.
"He walked into the offices of corporate T&T begging for sponsorship, and when that was enough, he mortgaged his house. He paid off his mortgage, but this time he was not so lucky, but God was at the helm and saw him through it," Sandra said.
Camps was also a devout insurance executive for Maritime General, his colleague John Smith said, noting that nothing could have happened at the company without Ollie. He was well respected and would find the solution to all problems, as everyone approached him. At the end of the service members of the Strike Squad formed a guard of honour to remember the man who managed them during the qualifying campaign.
They included Clayton Morris, Floyd Lawrence, Maurice Alibey, Dexter Francis, Kerry Jamerson, Marlon Morris, Osuna, Leonson Lewis, Philbert Jones and Kelvin Jones among many others.