Trinidad and Tobago Makes World Cup Debut

Trinidad and Tobago's players stretch as they warm up during a training session in Dortmund, Germany i i

Trinidad and Tobago's players stretch as they warm up during a training session in Dortmund, Germany. Aris Messinis/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption Aris Messinis/AFP/Getty Images
Trinidad and Tobago's players stretch as they warm up during a training session in Dortmund, Germany

Trinidad and Tobago's players stretch as they warm up during a training session in Dortmund, Germany.

Aris Messinis/AFP/Getty Images

A team from Trinidad and Tobago takes the field Saturday in Germany for a World Cup match against Sweden. It's Trinidad's first appearance in soccer's most prestigious event. Trinidad native Dane Bernard — a soccer fan and coach — talks with Scott Simon about the match.

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SCOTT SIMON, host:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon.

Coming up, a case for modesty humbly advanced. But first, first time ever, what they always call the tiny island nation of Trinidad and Tobago will compete in the World Cup. Trinidad and Tobago are meeting Sweden in the first game of the first round of competition this weekend in Dortmund, Germany. Now, they're not expected to win, but Trinidadians and Tobagoans around the world will feel the auspices of history when their team steps on to the football pitch. That's what Americans usually call a soccer field.

Dane Bernard is a soccer fan, coach, and Trinidad native. He lives in Washington, D.C. and joins us in our studios.

Thanks very much for being with us.

Mr. DANE BERNARD (Soccer Fan and Coach): Thanks for having me.

SIMON: T&T, as they're called, the smallest of eight teams making their debuts at the World Cup this year, give us a sense of what it means to a Trinidadian.

Mr. BERNARD: Oh, this is an awful lot to us. Now that we have quality coach to go along with quality players, we think this is the right time.

SIMON: Well, as we mentioned, they're not favored against Sweden. But on the other hand, it's a game of upsets. Right?

Mr. BERNARD: It is, and there's always going to be an upset. And hopefully, we can be the ones bringing the upset. And if we do get a win in the first game, which is key to all tournaments, then we can very well advance.

SIMON: How do you assess their chances?

Mr. BERNARD: Better off paper, better on the field. I like what they can do. I like what they've been doing on the field. And, you know, it's really about what the coach is bringing. He's bringing something really unique to the islands and we appreciate it.

SIMON: He's a Dutch coach.

Mr. BERNARD: Yes, he is, indeed. Coach Beenhakker, Leo Beenhakker, well, he has brought along a certain strut here that is needed and necessary, in order to get to this point of world football.

SIMON: Mm-hmm.

Mr. BERNARD: And now we are in Germany.

SIMON: People from Trinidad and Tobago, will they be gathering some place to watch the games?

Mr. BERNARD: Oh, there are various places. We know in Trinidad, itself, St. James, Port of Spain is going to be lively.

SIMON: Where will you be watching?

Mr. BERNARD: I have the option of being at home in case, you know, I want to behave in my own way, because this is going to be a unique time for all.

(Soundbite of laughter)

SIMON: Forgive me for not knowing this, but when they take the field against Sweden, do they play the Trinidad and Tobago national anthem?

Mr. BERNARD: Just like they would play the Sweden anthem, yes.

SIMON: Yeah. Will that be an emotional moment, to hear that?

Mr. BERNARD: Certainly. At that event, I mean, it must mean an awful lot. We would rather hear it rendered out by steel pan, but...

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. BERNARD: ...we will be happy just to hear it either way.

SIMON: The team is called the Soca Warriors?

Mr. BERNARD: Yes, indeed.

SIMON: I don't understand.

Mr. BERNARD: It's the fighting spirit of the Caribbean. But we have soca, as the music.

SIMON: Mm-hmm.

Mr. BERNARD: And that is a great coincidence, indeed, because the music is the rhythm of what they try to play on the pitch.

SIMON: Is there a cheer for this World Cup team?

Mr. BERNARD: They have mainly a rhythm section, which involves a variety of percussions. And then there will be chants like, I'm a Soca Warrior. And you know...

SIMON: Oh, come on. You can do it for us, can't you?

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. BERNARD: No. I wish I had, you know. I know a part of the song that goes (singing) I'm a Soca Warrior, Trini Soca Warrior.

You know, so - but that's not for me to do, really. I don't want to be getting calls about it.

SIMON: I think you do it beautifully. Well, good luck, Mr. Bernard.

Mr. BERNARD: Thank you.

SIMON: To you and your team.

Dane Bernard, who is a soccer fan, a coach, and a native of Trinidad, he'll be watching Trinidad and Tobago play their first-ever World Cup match against Sweden.

(Soundbite of song)

Mr. MAXIMUS DAN (Singer): (Singing) I'm a Soca Warrior, fighting win or lose I'm a fighter. I'm a Soca warrior, come to shine my nationality brighter. We will attack, we will defend, we will (unintelligible) to the very end.

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