By Shaun Fuentes
AFTER 90 years of organised amateur football, sport in Trinidad and Tobago moves one step higher with the introduction of professional football in the country.
At 4 p.m today, the historic Craven A Professional League with six of the eight teams competing for a first prize of $500,000 taking the field.
Jack Warner's Joe Public meet Jerry Hospedales' C.L. Financial Jabloteh at the Hasely Crawford Stadium; Lloyd Joseph's Police gun for David John Williams' W Connection at the Arima Velodrome and Chandrabhan Sharma's Doc's Khelwalaas and Leslie St Laurent's Pt Fortin Civic Centre square off at Mahaica Oval.
The remaining two teams - Brigadier Carl Alfonso's Defence Force and Conrad Enill's FUTGOF go into action tomorrow at the PSA Centre from 6 p.m.
The clash which is certain to draw the most attention involves last year's semi-professional champions Joe Public and reigning FA Trophy winners Jabloteh.
Public, will get their show on the road under new coach Jamal Shabazz with an array of talent.
Their key players include national front runners Irasto Knights, skipper Arnold Dwarika and Angus Eve.
They are without foreign based pro Jerron Nixon who is expected to join their lineup later in the season. Technical director Richard Abraham is confident that Shabazz has put together a formidable unit.
Jabloteh meanwhile, will today be playing at home and will be looking to Marvin Faustin, Vincentian striker James Chewit, Warren Butler and Hector Sam to get the job done.
Having been previously based at Santa Cruz, they will also hope that their supporters turn out in their numbers at the stadium.
The men in charge of Jabloteh include technical director Miguel Hackett, and assistant coaches Anthony Streete and Keith Jeffrey.
At Mahaica Oval, the home side entertains Central powerhouse Doc's Khewalaas.
Civic Centre under directorship of Steve David have in their line-up former Strike squad member Philbert Jones and Russell Pope, formerly of fellow south side Ramlogan's Uprising Youths.
Their opponents today, Doc's are newcomers to the big scene. Having been formed in 1998, this team is being coached by Nevick Denoon with assistance from Neil Sorzano.
Midfielder Kerwyn Emmanuel, Guyanese Collie Hercules and striker Sherman Phillip will lead Doc's who will play their home matches at Frederick Settlement, Caroni.
At Arima Stadium, it's an all south clash between W Connection and Police. Connection have made an impressive arrival on the scene. This is their first year at the highest level and their St Lucian coach Stuart Charles Fevrier will want to ensure that the hard work done by club president David John Williams in putting together a respectable squad, is not wasted.
Boasting of five St Lucian players, including Anthony Maximin and Titus Elva, they also have local boys Reynold Carrington, Sherwyn Julien, Kurt Scotland and Wesley Webb among others. They will campaign at Guaracara Park, Point-a-Pierre.
Police, meanwhile, are back on the scene after a short absence and director Richard Hood along with coaches Ralph Nelson and John Pilgrim will want to ensure they get the best out of players such as Alvin "Sweetbread" Boisson, Kelvin Jones, Shawn David and Rodney Dennis.
Tomorrow, Futgof will be at home against Defence Force.
Futgof, has as it's manager Michael Awai, with Selris Figaro as their coach.
Midfielders Sean Cooper and Garfield Ambrose will lead the midfield attack while the dynamic Cornell Glen adding firepower upfront.
The Army/ Coast guard unit, did not have the best of seasons last year, but it's a whole new beginning this time around and anything could be possible.
Coach Errol McFarlane, with the help of Anthony Barrington and Wayne Lawson are eager for success. Their squad consists of the likes of national goalkeepers Ross Russell and Clayton Ince, midfielders Dean Pacheco, strike squad veterans Hutson Charles, Kerry Jamerson and Dexter Skeene. They, along with Jabloteh are based at the Stadium.