The red confetti has settled here in Trinidad and Tobago, after yesterday’s public holiday to celebrate the national football team’s qualification for the 2006 World Cup. But for the Caribbean Beat editorial team, the hard work is just starting. We’re already thinking about the big feature we’ll run in our May/June issue next year to coincide with the tournament. Naturally, we want to tell the story of the Soca Warriors’ journey to Germany, sixteen years after we came within a single goal of qualifying for the 1990 tournament. But we want as well to look at the Caribbean’s three previous appearances at the World Cup, so we’ll also be telling the stories of Cuba in 1938, Haiti (the first Caribbean country to join FIFA) in 1974, and of course Jamaica in 1998. And maybe we’ll also talk about the changing role of football in a part of the world that has traditionally devoted much of its sporting talent to cricket. Six months isn’t a long time in the magazine business, so we’re already starting to put together a team of writers to work on this omnibus feature.
Now, I’m not much of a sports fan myself–though I’m as happy as any other Trini that we’re going to Germany!–so coordinating all this will be something of a challenge. But that’s one of the things I most enjoy about working on a wide-ranging magazine like Beat–the steady stream of opportunities to learn about new things–or, as I sometimes put it, the imperative to become a temporary “expert” on some person or place or phenomenon that a few weeks before I knew nothing about. Luckily, I have a fine team of regular contributors, specialists in just about every aspect of Caribbean life, who I can turn to for help. So these next few months I’ll be doing a lot of reading and talking about football, and by the time that May/June issue goes to press I may even sound like the veteran sports journalist that I’m not.
Meanwhile, anyone curious about what it was like to be in the middle of the celebrations in Port of Spain on Wednesday night should listen to the latest podcast over at Caribbean Free Radio. I even make a few appearances….