Soccer Competition & Community Service: Premier International Tours Brings Soccer Players To Trinidad and Tobago & Inspire Youth
Premier International Tours has partnered with Trinidad and Tobago’s Mascall Football Academy to help bridge the distance between the home fields here and abroad — and to help American soccer players serve as an inspiration to the island’s youth.
Soccer News: Soccer travel is exciting, fabulous and can be life changing. Usually for the teammates traveling to foreign lands to explore the passion of the beautiful game and test their skills against foreign opponents.
Except when college or youth soccer teams travel to a remote caribbean island and leave the locals with inspiration to dream and reach for new heights — then the memories are shared by all.
Premier International Tours has been playing the role of fairy godmother to Trinidad and Tobago’s Mascall Football Academy for the past two years; making generous donations, supplying equipment and making the local area kids’ dreams come true.
And where more appropriate than on the beautiful islands of Trinidad and Tobago? Twin islands with rich soccer history. The goal that changed the fate of soccer in America was scored in Trinidad by Paul Caligiuri.
Caligiuri’s fate-changing goal in 1989 in the FIFA World Cup qualifier against Trinidad and Tobago sparked unprecedented U.S. soccer growth and is considered the ‘SHOT’ that started it all and was heard around the world.
Like it’s island, Mascall Football Academy has a proud soccer heritage and is well known in the islands for working with youth soccer players.
American youth soccer teams have been discovering the value of visiting Trinidad and Tobago (T&T), competing against the islands top youth teams and giving back — through a series of community oriented programs with an island soccer school.
Trinidad and Tobago’s national football team, nicknamed the Soca Warriors, represents the twin-island Republic and competes in both CONCACAF and the Caribbean Football Union. Currently, the T&T U20 are in Costa Rica, preparing to compete in the 2017 CONCACAF Under-20 Championship.
Trinidad & Tobago national beach soccer team are well known for their success on the sand and it is hard to find a kid on the island who doesn’t want to play football.
What are the islands like?
With idyllic Caribbean water, gentle trade winds and some of the most majestic and unspoiled beaches in the world, Trinidad and Tobago are not far off the coast of Venezuela. With a history of Creole traditions and cuisines, Trinidad’s capital, Port of Spain, can be a blaze of color and calypso music.
Recently, college soccer players from Regis University headed down to the majestic caribbean for a preseason trip to Trinidad and Tobago to compete and played three highly competitive soccer matches against the Youth National Teams and Women’s National Team — as well as enjoyed working with the island’s youth.
The American collegiate soccer players spent half a day holding soccer clinics at an orphanage and, according to J.B. Belzer, Head Women’s Soccer Coach at Regis University, “the experience changed the lives of my players.”
The seniors and other undergrads on the trip were grateful for the opportunity to give back through a series of community efforts and relished the shared passion for the game.
“The trip left a great impression on my players,” said Belzer. “The game of soccer really brings humanity together and my team had a great time playing with the local kids. A few of the youth players even schooled one or two of my girls. We even ended up recruiting a player from one of the local teams.”
“And, while the soccer competition was great — a good test for my team and it was exciting to play in the National stadium — the real memorable joy was working with the kids at the orphanage,” added Belzer.
The Mascall Football Academy was grateful to the visiting college teams — and several of the visiting players inspired the island’s youths to reach for their own dreams of college.
Players who dream of playing for their local community now dream of pursuing a college degree in medicine and making a collegiate soccer team.
For the island’s younger players, they were able to meet role models of whom to follow as they grow up.
Among the collegiate soccer teams to visit Trinidad and Tobago are Duke University Men’s Club team, University of Central Oklahoma Women, Northwest Nazarene College Women and Regis University Women. In addition teams from the Arkport Angels Girls Soccer Club from NY and Charlotte Latin School Girls from SC have also traveled down to compete and contribute.
Duke Club Soccer Team captain Landon Baker said, “I know that I speak on behalf of the entire team when I say that the experience was truly extraordinary and will be something that we will not forget for a long, long time.” His team played 3 games against competitive men’s team from Trinidad with the record of 1-1-1. One of Duke’s games was played at Hasely Crawford Stadium which is the home of the T&T National team.
A Reality Check
With the average salary in Trinidad and Tobago being in the $26,000 range, the island’s youth players do not normally clamor for $300 Nike and adidas cleats.
Former Mascall Football Academy player Dellandre John recently concluded his first collegiate season and already has other members aspiring to follow in his footsteps.
“Mascall Football Academy’s extends our gratitude to Premier International Tours for sharing our dreams for mentorship and empowerment of our youths.”
What can soccer teams do on Trinidad & Tobago?
From a visit to Maracas Beach and grabbing a bite at the local Bake ‘n Shark to a hike to Maracas Waterfalls or a visit the Pitch Lake and soaking in natural Sulphur pools, Trinidad offers a variety of off the field adventures.
The possibility of zip lining in Chaguaramas — the best way to get a bird’s eye view of the breathtaking beauty at Macqueripe Bay or visiting nearby Down D’ Islands to swim in the Gasparee Caves — where there are real bats, regardless of the perfect beaches and passionate soccer found on the island, the most special moments on the trip will be those spent giving back to the community.
Players can hold their own youth soccer clinic for the area’s local children as well as work on building projects for the island’s soccer teams.
The youngest set of the island’s players, who enjoy simply chasing the ball and making new friends, have always been eager to take pictures and mimic the different accents of the visiting American players.
Sharing the passion for the world’s beautiful game of soccer and discovering how other youth players live 4,000 miles from CA is an enriching experience — holding a youth soccer clinic for kids that have never seen an iPhone but have the same love of soccer –is an experience that exceeds crossing the white line of the pitch at home.
After all, what is the real goal of an international soccer trip?
Uniting the world through a passion for soccer and travel, International Premier Tours has arranged travel for U.S. Soccer, US Club, US Youth Soccer and many other organizations in the soccer world.
- Date Source for Salary: Human Development Report 2015