Whitecaps FC are headed south for tonight's CONCACAF Champions League opener versus Central FC (5 p.m. PT at Ato Boldon Stadium). Where are they headed? The beautiful, tropical destination of Trinidad and Tobago.
Twin islands located just off the northern edge of South America, Trinidad and Tobago are the most southern islands in the Caribbean. Currently, the country averages a temperature of about 31 degrees Celsius for August. With pristine, white sand beaches and blue water, the ‘Caps are headed to a tropical paradise on the opposite side of continent (though it's looking like today might be a rainy one).
Here are a few things to know about these coupled countries, and a connection or two to us here in the Great White North.
A CANADIAN STORY BEHIND ATO BOLDON STADIUM
Twenty years ago in the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, Donovan Bailey became an iconic figure in Canada's sports history when he set a world record and won gold, running 9.84 to become the world’s fastest man. Finishing third was Trinidad and Tobago athlete Ato Boldon, after whom the venue of tonight's match is named after.
CANADA VERSUS TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO IN SPORTS
The most recent national team match up in soccer was between the the women’s sides in an Olympic qualifier in February, when Canada defeated Trinidad and Tobago 6-0 (picture above). In the match, Canadian great Christina Sinclair surpassed Mia Hamm to take second place on the all-time international goal scoring list. With 159 goals, she sits just behind American Abby Wambach (who has scored 184). Her record changing goal came just two minutes after she substituted into the match in the second half.
Randy Samuel, former Canadian national team player and captain with 82 caps for the national side, and also former 'Caps player (circa 1984), grew up in Richmond, BC but was born in Port Fortin, Trinidad. He was also coached by Whitecaps FC president Bob Lenarduzzi from 1989 to 1997 playing for the national team.
The centre back was drafted to the ‘Caps in 1981, but was never signed by the club. He then played in Edmonton, the Netherlands, England, Norway, and the U.S. before retiring with Montreal Impact in 2001. He even made a brief return to Vancouver in 1998 with the Vancouver 86ers, making 21 appearances and scoring two goals for the side.
Pictured on the right is the Canadian men's national team in the early 1980's, with Lenarduzzi on the top left, and Samuel third from left on the same row.
More recently, Trinidadian centre back Carlyle Mitchell played for Whitecaps FC from 2011 to 2014.
Canada and Trinidad and Tobago have a long-standing relationship. In 1938, Canada appointed a full-time Trade Commissioner to Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago’s capital city. Official diplomatic relations started in August 1962, right after the Caribbean country became independent from Great Britain.
TRINIDADIANS AND TOBAGONIANS AND CANADIANS
Looking to sports, several famous Canadian athletes have come from Trinidad and Tobago:
Professional golfer Stephen Ames holds dual citizenship with Canada and the Caribbean nation as he was born in San Fernando, Trinidad. He has won four PGA Tour titles since turning pro in 1987. He was inducted into the Canadian Golf Hall of Fame in 2014.
Former Canadian NBA player Jamaal Magloire has Trinidadian parents. He spent 12 seasons in the league playing for the Miami Heat, Toronto Raptors, and Dallas Mavericks, among others. He was an NBA All Star in 2004. Now retired, he is an assistant coach with the Toronto Raptors.
And there are some other famous Canadians with some Trinidadian and Tobagonian blood as well:
Canadian R&B and pop singer Keshia Chanté, and Canadian hip hop musician K-os are both of Trinidadian decent. Chanté is known for songs like “Been Gone” and “2U”, while K-os is known for songs like “Sunday Morning” and “Crabbuckit."
CBC newscaster Ian Hanomansing was born in Port of Spain. In his career as a reporter, he has covered seven Olympic Games, including the 2008 Beijing Olympics, both Stanley Cup riots, and the 1992 Los Angeles riots. As a news anchor, he co-hosted CBC News: Vancouver from 2007 to 2010. He has won a Gemini Award for best National News Anchor in Canada.
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