Home at last; Morvant Caledonia to welcome Jabloteh at Park Street on Sunday

​Minister of Sport and Youth Affairs, Darryl Smith, seventh from right, MP for Laventille East/Morvant, Adrian Leonce, fourth from left, TT Pro League general secretary Julia Baptiste, third from left, and Ricarda Nelson (green shirt), general manager at Morvant Caledonia United are joined by other stakeholders during a media briefing on Oct. 12, 2016 to unveil the Morvant Recreation Ground on Park Street in Morvant as the latest venue to host Pro League football.

Wednesday October 12, 2016

Residents of Morvant will for the first time witness top flight football in their community when home side Morvant Caledonia United host crosstown rivals San Juan Jabloteh in the Digicel Pro League on Sunday from 4pm at the Morvant Recreation Ground on Park Street.

This was made possible through the efforts by the Ministry of Sport, together with the Sport Company of Trinidad and Tobago and the local corporation following years of lobbying by the Pro League to have community fields within the areas represented by clubs to be upgraded to a suitable standard for professional play.

General Secretary of the Pro League, Julia Baptiste, said bringing the clubs back to the community has been a critical success factor in the League’s strategic plan.

"This is a red-lettered day in the storied Pro League," said Baptiste during a media briefing at the Morvant Recreation Ground on Wednesday morning to unveil latest venue for Pro League football. "The Morvant Recreation Ground will host Pro League football."

Baptiste reminded all, "The Pro League is more than a professional league. It is a movement that seeks through the sport of football to make a positive and sustainable difference in our communities, country, and for the youth of the nation."

While the playing surface, lighting, and the perimeter of the Morvant Recreation Ground needs improvement, efforts by the various stakeholders will give the Park Street venue a facelift in time for Sunday’s Digicel Pro League clash.  

Minister of Sport and Youth Affairs, Darryl Smith, speaking during the media briefing, said plans are underway to upgrade Park Street facility as well as include a community swimming pool in the area in the future—all part of his ministry’s plan in "investing heavily in young people." 

"(…)little things that make big differences," Smith said. "You’re not going to be seeing any mega projects—not to the fact that we have less resources. [But] we will be focusing on this level."

Smith said it "makes absolutely no sense" having Morvant Caledonia United use the St. George’s Recreation Ground or Hasely Crawford Stadium as a home venue. 

Morvant Caledonia have never played at the Park Street venue – currently the home of Morvant Jets Track Club and Ebony Cricket Club – other than youth level football.

In May 2015 the Morvant Recreation Ground was re-commissioned following upgrades involving the expansion of the pavilion, installation of additional spectator benches, addition of a cafeteria and meeting room, additional and improved public restrooms, athletes showers and storage rooms. The upgrades included ramps and viewing areas for the differently abled.

"This is a community we want to identify with," Morvant Caledonia United general manager Ricarda Nelson told stakeholders gathered at the Morvant Recreation Ground. "It’s an honour to be here and we are happy to actually be part of Morvant. We have been waiting on this [opportunity] for years. Now we want to be positive, help the positives, and also change the negatives into positives in the area."

Nelson, a former T&T and Morvant Caledonia women’s footballer, who called on residents to come out with their families in full support, hopes to reward the people of Morvant with a victory on Sunday against neighbouring rivals Jabloteh.

Morvant, known for producing sporting talents, is also the home of Morvant Caledonia veteran Kareem Joseph and midfielder Akim Armstrong, as well as Defence Force ace and the Pro League’s all-time leading scorer, Devorn Jorsling, and talented Club Sando attacker Akeem Roach to name a few.

Ephraim Serrette, president of the National Association of the Athletics Administrations of Trinidad and Tobago (NAAA), applauded the effort of the Pro League and the support of the Ministry of Sport and Sport Company "for bringing the sport back to the grassroots level."

"This ground made me," said the former national sprinter who attended the media briefing. "It played a critical part in my development, my brothers’, and other people in Morvant like the Mc Gill brothers, Lance Dillon and others who represented the country at the highest level. So to bring back football in Morvant is a great thing."

Meanwhile Member of Parliament for Laventille East/Morvant, Adrian Leonce, believes the advent of the Pro League into the area will bring back the positive energy of the community. "Bringing back what we know to be the culture of our community—bringing Trinidad and Tobago to the place we want it to be," said Leonce.

Action this week in the DPL kicks off on Friday with a double-header at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva with W Connection against Club Sando from 6pm followed by two-time reigning champions Central FC against Defence Force.

And following Morvant Caledonia United’s home debut against Jabloteh on Sunday, play returns to the Ato Boldon Stadium on Tuesday when Ma Pau Stars take on St. Ann’s Rangers from 6pm, preceding an 8pm kick off between Point Fortin Civic and Police FC.