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Soccer great ‘grateful’ for sports ambassadorship

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Stanley “Luxie” Morris, a former national football captain and coach and perennial coach of Team St. Vincent and the Grenadines in the Brooklyn-based Caribbean Soccer Cup, has expressed profound gratitude for being named among 15 as the nation’s 2014 Sports and Cultural Ambassadors.

“For this honor that has been bestowed upon me, I am eternally grateful to God, my parents Stanley and Constance Morris, and the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines,” said Morris in an exclusive Caribbean Life interview.

“As my late father Stanley McLean Morris, Sr. served with distinction as a teacher and Justice of the Peace with love for the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, I, too, hope to honor, cherish and share every blessing that is within my power to give to the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines,” he added.

“This honor truly humbles me, and it is my desire to continue to serve my nation wherever I am,” continued Morris, a member of a prominent sporting family, which includes brothers Alexander “Pete” and Desmond “Des,” who also represented the national soccer team. Big sister Stacia “Stacey” was also a track and field star in her heyday.

“This opportunity is one that I humbly accept; but it is not just my opportunity, it is our opportunity, because we must endeavor to do this together,” Morris said. “It’s me and you, and you and me.”

Prime Minister Dr. Ralph E. Gonsalves made the announcement about the cultural and sports ambassadors during his address at the Military Parade in commemoration of the country’s 35th year of political independence from Great Britain.

Gonsalves said his Cabinet had decided to accord ambassadorial status to the 15 sporting and cultural icons.

The cultural ambassadors are: Cecil “Blazer” Williams, Ken Isles, Marlon “Mattafix” Roudette, Elroy “Blondie Bird” Boyde, Julian “Pilling” Pollard, Errol “Sardo” Sutherland, Rondy “Luta” McIntosh, Orande “Bomani” Charles, Shaunelle McKenzie, and Shernelle “Skarpyon” Williams.

Besides Morris, the sports ambassadors are: Dr. Halimah Deshong, Deighton Butler, Denis Byam and Sabrina Mitchell.

As an Ambassador of Sports, Morris said his goal is to help to advance St. Vincent and the Grenadines’ international position in “all of our sports and to seek to create opportunities for our athletes to advance not only their athletic abilities but, when and where possible, to also advance in their academics, and however else I can help them to maximize their potential and to also prosper.”

Morris also thanked “all those who made this opportunity possible,” stating that he looks forward “to us working together to open doors to help our athletes succeed.

“And I trust that, in opening these doors, other doors will be opened that will help our island-nation,” he said.

Additionally, he said he will endeavor to use “this platform” to explore all possibilities relevant to promoting Sports tourism, which he said is “a trillion dollar industry.”

“And St. Vincent and the Grenadines, though sovereign, belongs to the Community of Nations, and there’s absolutely no reason why we shouldn’t ‘cash in,’” Morris said.

He said, with an international airport, updated infrastructure, a five- star hotel, and a football and athletic stadium, “there’s no doubt in my mind that the tourists will come from within the region and also, internationally; thereby translating to growth of our GDP (Gross Domestic Product).”

While acknowledging that he will be representing all sporting disciplines, Morris said it has been his vision to honor “those football players from 60’s to 1978; 1979; 1986; 1992 at home and likewise in the Diaspora (New York City, etc.).”

In 1973, Morris made the national team for the first time, as a defender, playing for Pastures United, formed by him and his coach/ captain, Fred “Garrincha” Trimmingham, and mentor Leslie “Jim”Olliverre.

As former treasurer of the St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Windward Islands Football Association, Morris said he and his “very dear friend”, Earl Horne, who was also secretary of both entities, devised a “master plan” at the time for the first and only “Home and Away” tournament. Morris said St. Vincent and the Grenadines was eventual winner of the tourney.

Two years later, Morris said he and Horne introduced “soccerama” to the nation at Victoria Park in Kingstown, the Vincentian capital.

In 1979, Morris said when the then coach was “hesitant/ reluctant/ doubtful to render his services to the team,” he was instrumental, with teammate Elliot “Mory” Millington, to “run the drills and keep the team motivated.”

A year later, Morris, who was also a former school teacher at home, said he migrated to the United States “with a heavy heart” after the nation’s success in the Caribbean Football Union championship.

In collaborating with Horne from 1980 to present, Morris said the Brooklyn-based Hairoun Sports Club has become the “best ever club” in the New York Tri- state area.

As head coach, Morris said he had also taken Team St. Vincent and the Grenadines perennially to the top of the 20-odd-year-old New York Caribbean Cup until the New York Reggae Boyz (Jamaica) took over in later years.

“We are a small nation, but I believe we are a great nation,” Morris said. “Our accomplishments, our footprints mark this earth. We are all people of significance. We bear weight, value, and are here for a such a time as this.”

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