A team of 12 volunteers from the Ageing Well project, Midlothian, which included players from the winning team in this year’s Scottish Walking Football Festival, experienced the trip of a life time as they left on the long journey to Trinidad and Tobago. With a packed agenda and lots of mosquito repellent they arrived at Morton House in Tunapuna, Trinidad for a week of hard work and fun working with Habitat for Humanity, a charity who build housing for their families to give them a better life.
Here is their account or their fascinating trip:
The first house we worked on was to be painted inside and out and in two days we managed to give all surfaces two coats of paint, as well as most of our clothes! Working conditions were hot but we were taking on plenty water and even singing whilst we painted. The house was going to be home for a lovely disabled lady and her daughter.
The charity looked after us well, feeding us and transporting us everywhere and they kindly gave us the next day off so the team headed to Maracus beach, amazing place and the best waves ever! Vivian arriving late as she had a TV interview on a popular chat show called ‘Cup of Joe’. The chat was all about walking football and the benefits it brings to players in Scotland.
Little did we know that the next day would be such a tough one! It was 36 degrees and our driver, Nigel, was taking us miles away to a plot of land in the middle of nowhere. We were given shovels and told to build up the ground around the foundations of the start of a house. Once done we then hand mixed cement and transported by wheelbarrow around the house. This was going to be the home of a man who was paid off from the sugarcane plantation and instead of pay he received this plot of land. The charity helped him and his son to manage their limited budget and with the son at school, father is doing all he can to find more work.
Our next assignment as a team was to visit a special education institute in Trin City and introduce the pupils to walking football as well as other activities. This was so rewarding and proof that the game is suitable for all ages. The older ones particularly enjoyed trying to score a goal against our goalkeeper Glenn, who was being very competitive, trying his best to save every shot. When they finally did score much celebration was had by all! The younger ones enjoyed playing parachute games which one of our team had packed away in her luggage.
Early next morning Glenn was interviewed on CNMG Caribbean, a news programme where he spoke about the benefits of walking football and advertised the walking football tournament happening at the national stadium in Port of Spain, capital of Trinidad and Tobago at the weekend.
With 11 players and a photographer, off we went on our team bus with Nigel to the walking football tournament. Some more nervous than others as we had a team with five members never having played before and one, Kenny Davidson, an ex professional having played both in the Scottish Premier league and in Europe. However, the people involved in running the event and the other teams were so friendly and nice we all had a fantastic time and stepping out onto the pitch of a huge stadium didn’t feel quite so scary. Our first game was against a team made up of local community workers including the police and they were very keen to take this sport into their communities to help build relationships between the police and the community. Our bus driver, Nigel, also enjoyed walking football and played in most games during the event, swapping strips after each game! Scores were added up and the Habitat for Humanity Caribbean cup was presented to Midlothian followed by Trinidad’s other favourite pastime, eating. Lunch was provided for everyone as we sat in the shade talking about the goals we scored and the goals we missed!
The weekend finished off with a BBQ and entertainment at the home of our rep from Habitat for humanity plus a tour of some of the attractions Trinidad has to offer including the Benedictine Monastery, Pax Balcony to view the humming birds, buying coconuts from a street vendor and trying local food.
The second part of our journey involved a 30 minute flight from Trinidad to Tobago where the team relaxed in the beautiful surroundings around Pigeon Point at a resort with its own pool, beach and bar. The perfect end to a perfect adventure.