H.O.P.E. (Helping Others is a Priority Everyday) has beeninitiated to build communities; and the relationship between the teams, and the communities represented by the clubs which participate in the Trinidad and Tobago Pro League.
Excerpt from a speech given by TT Pro League´s CEO Mr. Dexter Skeene at the Official Launch of the H.O.PE. Community Development Programme.
This morning we are gathered here to launch what the TT Pro League considers the most important initiative in its short history. For the last five years the League has given profound thought on how to address the issue of implementing a vibrant community development programme, where the League, clubs and players each accept their roles in embracing the responsibility and obligation of Community engagement.
The TT Pro League’s community development programme, H.O.P.E. (Helping Others is a Priority Everyday), was initiated to build the communities and the relationship between the teams and the communities represented by the teams which participate in the Trinidad and Tobago Pro League.
The Pro League views football as the tool which can be utilized to transform and positively affect the communities represented throughout Trinidad and Tobago. In addition, we know that it is critical to involve the various communities in the process in order to make the Pro League viable, sustainable and profitable. The intention is to deliver not only game day revenue and a fan base which will provide other offshoots to earn revenue , but also a crowd which brings the right type of atmosphere at the matches to inspire the players to play at a higher level, while striving to attain new heights.
It is also the objective of the League to utilize the players, who will be loved and respected community members, as role models, to lift morale and be involved in various projects. Most importantly, football plays such an important part in the psyche of the average Trinidadian that we intend to use it as the medium to assist with the improvement of social and moral problems facing the society at present, in addition to engaging and stimulating the interest in football and the TT Pro League
The objectives will include the following:
- Increase awareness and visibility of player, club and League image within their community
- Generate a sense of caring, pride and loyalty of the club/ players toward their communities
- Instilling a sense of ownership of club/players
- Generate community support and identification with their resident clubs
- Create a general presence within the community
- Provide a potential channel for ticket distribution
- Promote a positive social image for the club and the League
The Pro League is proposing an innovative way of achieving these objectives. Instead of requesting funds to provide each club to run their individual community programmes, sponsors will make an investment in the form of prize monies as an incentive for the best community development programme, administered by the clubs in the league. This investment, will be utilized primarily as motivation for the clubs’ participation in the community development programme. This will assist in achieving the League's vision, which is to create an environment/platform/forum for the promotion of the local football industry while moving towards being globally competitive, both in the sport and business arenas of professional football and equally as important will assist to build the brand extension of the sponsor companies.
The programme will take the form of a competition which highlights several areas in which each club is obligated to become involved. The activities will be divided into two components, welfare and youth development. Each club must be involved in at least five (5) activities during the year in order to become eligible for the prize monies. The League proposes that the clubs can choose to participate from the following among other projects:
- Visits to local hospital or health centre facility to interact with patients
- Visit to aged home to uplift the morale of the residents
- Clean up day in relevant area to bring a sense of pride to the community
- Each club must be spokesperson for a cause e.g. AIDS, drug free life, crime prevention, literacy
- Visit to persons with disabilities to show caring side of football clubs
- Youth Development Activities
- Hosting of football camps by clubs utilizing professional players and coaches
- Visits to schools in respective areas represented by clubs by players and coaches to make presentations to students
- Youth competition organized by clubs for U-11 teams (final to be hosted before Pro League Knockout Final
- Literacy Programme to promote reading for youths. (Each club having its own reading champion)
- Visit to orphanage or underprivileged children to provide assistance and big brother type role
- Day for children to experience time playing like a professional
The clubs must be involved in all or a specified number of these activities in order to be eligible for the award. A committee will be selected to judge the competition at the end of the year. The League will encourage the relevant media to give coverage to all the various projects as well as the filming by our media department for posting on the website.
In closing, I want to thank Digicel, the Pro League’s main sponsor and the Hope Project’s primary supporter, for their eagerness to become involved and for grasping the opportunity to assist in improving the lives and welfare of our people through the medium of football. Also First Citizens for their continuing role in the development of the TT Pro League.
Finally, I want to thank the chairman, the board and the clubs for their support and for having the vision to embark on the HOPE Project, for having the will to give, to give back to the communities from whom we expect to receive support, for it is in giving that we will receive.