Meet the Next Cristiano Ronaldo
  Chris Selochan
FEATURES
September 2015

IS THIS LA HORQUETTA BOY THE NEXT 

SOCA WARRIORS AND REAL MADRID STAR STRIKER?

by Chris Selochan

We’re two minutes into stoppage time. The scores are level at a goal apiece in this top of the table La Liga clash between Real Madrid and Barcelona. The referee will bring this to an end any time…but here’s Real striker Kesean St. Rose of Trinidad and Tobago with one last ditch effort. He goes pass one defender, then another…what amazing skill! St. Rose…still St. Rose! St. Rose! Goooooaaal! Real are up 2-1! What an unbelievable climax to this epic encounter! Real fans everywhere will be chanting the name of Kesean St. Rose today!


A dream? “Kesean who?” you say?

Meet Kesean St. Rose. He’s a huge Real Madrid fan but he’s never been to Spain. Indeed he's never travelled outside of his native Trinidad and Tobago and you’re very likely to see him around where he lives in the eastern Trinidadian community of La Horquetta (Blackbird Lane to be exact) or at his school, El Dorado East Secondary (where he’ll soon be entering Form 4). So, what does this kid from the East have to do with Real Madrid (other than being a big fan of the club)?

Well, let’s start.

You see, Kesean is no ordinary fourteen year old. He happens to be a forward on El Dorado East Secondary School’s Under 16 football team. “So what?” you say?


Well, what if I told you that’s he’s the captain and star striker of the San Juan Jabloteh Football Club Under 15 team?

Kesean in his San Juan Jabloteh uniform

Still not impressed? There’s more.
Kesean, who also plays for La Horquetta XF in the Eastern Football Association, Republic Cup and TnT Cup leagues, captained the young Jabloteh team to the Malta Carib Youth Pro League title in 2015. Impressive, eh?

Kesean (front row, centre) poses with his trophies

alongside other prize winners of the 2015 Malta Carib

Youth Pro League

Kesean receives the Malta Carib Youth Pro League title

from cricket superstar Dwayne Bravo earlier in 2015

But guess what? It gets better.

Apart from his team’s triumphant performance, Kesean registered some remarkable personal accomplishments in 2015.

Firstly, he scored the most goals in the league. That alone is of course quite the achievement.

Secondly, he was named best forward. That’s right. He was the best striker in national under 15 football for 2015. Getting excited yet?


Lastly, and most impressively, he won the coveted award of Most Valuable Player for the league’s 2015 season.

 

Kesean accepts and poses with his awards during the prize giving ceremony

for the 2015 Malta Carib Youth Pro League

I’m sure I have your attention now.

But wait. There’s one more thing I forgot to mention. This is the third successive year that Kesean, who will be fifteen on November 29th, 2015, has scored the most goals in his age group of national pro league football. In other words he has been dominating his age group in the Caribbean’s premiere professional football competition for the past three years!

Now if that doesn’t impress you, there’s very little that will. Even a person with the slightest interest in football will have to admit that this isn’t any ordinary young man.

So how exactly was Kesean introduced to the sport that Pele dubbed ‘the beautiful game’?

The mild mannered youngster started playing football with friends and neighbours in the road in La Horquetta and the nearby park at the tender age of four. What was simply a hobby started becoming a passion and he was later chosen as a forward for the La Horquetta North Primary School team. During these early years, his mother, Keisha Huggins, now an employee of SWMCOL, would take him to see his uncle, Justin Baptiste, play Intercol football for St. Augustine Secondary School. Watching his uncle play at that level inspired him to want to play competitively in front of large crowds. While still aged four, his mom took him to the Marvin Faustin coaching school in Bonaire where he spent a year and he then made his way to La Horquetta XF where the coach, Dave Quamina, took him under his wings. Quamina and Kesean’s mom had grown up together in Belmont, Trinidad and their friendship rekindled many years later when they ended up again living in the same area, La Horquetta. Kesean’s uncle, Justin Baptiste, was by that time also playing for the La Horquetta XF senior team. Quamina had seen the potential in Kesean at a very young age and whenever he met his mom and uncle he would plead with them to send Kesean to La Horquetta XF so that he could realise his potential. Eventually, they gave in, and the rest as they say is history.

Apart from being a mentor and role model to him since then to present, Quamina had numerous personal training sessions with Kesean, demonstrating the art of passing and other crucial skills. He also provided support in other key areas, such as giving advice and ensuring that Kesean stayed on the right path.

Kesean’s coach and mentor, Dave Quamina (right)

stands proudly next to his young charge

 

Quamina introduced Kesean to the pro league at the age of ten when he took him to a team called Shoutend (of which Quamina was the coach at the time).  When Quamina left Shoutend and went to coach another team, North East Stars, he took Kesean with him. Two years ago, Quamina then left to coach at Jabloteh and again Kesean followed.

Quamina is proud of his young charge and has this to say about Kesean: “I think he is an exceptional player. He is special…very clinical in front of goal. He knows what to do in front of the goal when the ball is at his feet. I have had the privilege of working with many pro league and national players before, like Makesi Lewis (who is at present at pro league club Police FC), Adrian Foncette (the second goalkeeper for the national senior team), Anslem Jackson aka Worm of pro league club W. Connection, Jamal Gay (a seven feet tall striker who also hails from La Horquetta and now plays in Finland), national players Brent Sam and Neville Hackshaw and a number of other players. I think Kesean has what it takes to go all the way.“

Quamina is however cognizant that it takes more than talent to make it to the top and that regrettably there are times when other factors can eclipse meritocracy. Indeed, he holds the view that Kesean has already fallen victim to this: “I believe Kesean has focus and he could be the next special one to come from Trinidad and Tobago provided he is given a fair chance and is not caught up in the politics of sport in the country. We in Trinidad and Tobago never select the best team in any sporting discipline. It’s always a friend thing in this country. Would you believe that there is a national Under 15 team at present and Kesean is not on it even though he has totally dominated the youth pro league and has been dominating his age group in national football for the past few years?”  Remarkable indeed!

Kesean displaying his juggling skills

 

But despite this, Quamina is confident of his prodigy’s future. “Once he is given the chance he could excel at the world level. I am talking about Messi and Ronaldo level. Because of his genes, I don’t think he will be a big player since his parents are not very big built. He will be a small player like Messi but he has speed, power, strength and brain and one of his great strengths is that he listens and does what the coach wants. He is very coachable. A lot of top secondary schools are pursuing him right now.”

As a big Real Madrid fan, it would come as no surprise that Kesean’s hero is Cristiano Ronaldo. Mention the word ‘Barca’ around him and it elicits a squirm and while he respects Lionel Messi he doesn’t think that the Argentine star comes close to Ronaldo. He spends a lot of his spare time watching the sport (especially the Barclays Premier League and La Liga) and would love to attend a Real Madrid v Barcelona match at Santiago Bernabeu Stadium one day. Of course, he’d much rather be playing in one!

Among local players he admires Kerry Baptiste and Atula Guerra who both play for Central FC.

For World Cups he supports Brazil (unless of course Trinidad and Tobago’s Soca Warriors are playing) but while he likes Neymar, Ronaldo is still his hero.

Kesean poses with some of his awards with his proud mom

 

Many youngsters who are passionate about a sport also find themselves attracted to other games and Kesean is no exception. Like most people in Trinidad and Tobago, he loves cricket and has played a lot of it at home. In fact, he would like to try his hand at it competitively one day. By his own account he’s a pretty aggressive batsman and it should therefore come as no surprise that he’s a huge Kieron Pollard fan.

He ran a few relays and 100 metres races in primary school. He also watches basketball and is a fan of the Miami Heat, with his favourite player being Stephen Curry.


Kesean lives with his mom and grandmother (both relatively strong disciplinarians) and the person he describes as his biggest fan: his little five year old sister Dejanique Joseph, who actually attends some of his games. He remains in close contact with his father, Damian St. Rose, who lives abroad, while his uncles Dave Huggins and Kerwin Huggins are constant sources of encouragement and continuously stress to him the importance of balancing football with his studies.

And speaking of studies, Kesean loves Social Studies and English but acknowledges that he has to work on his Mathematics if he is to succeed in his alternative career path as an engineer. He makes special mention of Ms. Peters (his form teacher in Form 3) and his former Standard 2 teacher Ms. Morales, both of whom took a special interest in him.

Kesean and his biggest fan Dejanique

The community of La Horquetta has unfortunately gotten a bad rap due to perceived criminal activity among some residents in the area but Kesean is unfazed by this negative stereotype. “I love La Horquetta,” he says proudly. “Contrary to what some people might think, La Horquetta is a nice place. I would not want to grow up anywhere else. I had a lot of great neighbours.”

Kesean is not yet at the stage of his career where dietary restrictions are strictly imposed to remain in peak physical condition and readily admits to enjoying various types of foods, with the exception of fruits. His favourites include the typical Trinbago culprits: roti and curry, pelau, macaroni pie and stewed chicken.


And which person his age doesn’t love music? Kesean listens to dancehall, hip-hop and soca and his favourite artistes are Meek Mill, Popcaan and Machel Montano. The song that he can’t get enough of is Machel’s and Angela Hunte’s 2015 hit, ‘Party Done.’

Members of the La Horquetta XF Under 11 team who, according to coach Dave Quamina, idolise Kesean

 

He enjoys ‘liming’ with his friends and makes special mention of Trevis Byron, with whom he grew up and played at Jabloteh and who will soon be joining pro league club WASA FC. “But there’s no girlfriend yet,” he adds with a grin.

He loves to play video games yet, quite remarkably, has not asked his mom to buy him a PS4 or Xbox or any other system since he believes that to own a video game console would be too much of a distraction from his football and studies.

When I interviewed Kesean for this story at the home of a friend in Arima, he came across as shy, almost reticent. However, I soon realised that he was simply displaying the behavior of a young man in whom manners had been strictly ingrained. He was well alert to everything that was taking place and even corrected me once when I misspelt a name that he had given me while I was typing away on my laptop. I also realised something else about him: he didn’t seem like the type to be fazed easily by a situation and, as he got more comfortable, he later admitted to me that he had a great sense of humour and that the only thing that upsets him is losing a game.

Keasean wearing his No. 13 jersey during a

recent training session with La Horquetta XF

Although he loves joking around and is very much the comedian on the team at times, his peers look up to him for inspiration, both as a player and a leader, and he is cognizant of the need to be a worthy exemplar. He’s not a regular churchgoer but considers himself a fairly devout Christian who prays everyday. His advice to youths who wish to succeed is simple: “Work hard and do personal training on your own. Anything can be achieved through God. Be careful with friends. They can lead you astray. Follow people with the same ambition as you. Many youths follow the wrong company. Youths also should stay far away from drugs.” He then adds with a chuckle, “And join La Horquetta XF!”

After becoming comfortable, Kesean is all smiles for his interview with Paradise Pulse

 

Kesean hopes to soon play for his school’s Intercol team, make the Jabloteh senior team in the next four years and shortly thereafter the national team (affectionately dubbed by supporters as the Soca Warriors). He would of course love to one day play for the Soca Warriors in a World Cup and line up for Real Madrid as their star striker.

For the upcoming season, his team goal is for Jabloteh to win the Youth Pro League title again and his personal target to score more than the twenty-three goals that he scored last season. He considers himself a natural striker and goal scorer, although he has played on the right wing before.

Kesean is saddened by the lack of spectator interest in senior pro league football, which is the highest level of the domestic game. “We need more people to come out to watch the games. For many matches if you have fifty people watching you have plenty.” He also urges more corporate sponsors to come on board, especially to support younger players.

And his most memorable moment? The game he played for Jabloteh against Defence Force in the First Round of the pro league earlier this year in which he scored a 90th minute equalizer. Hmmmm…..

As I’m about to conclude writing this article I receive word from Dave Quamina that Kesean has done it again and added to his accolades. On Saturday 30th August 2015 the Under 15 San Juan Jabloteh team led by Kesean defeated Blast 2-1 to win the 2015 Republic Cup National Youth Football League. It probably goes without saying but in case you’re wondering, the answer is yes: Keasean was the MVP for the tournament and also won the award for scoring the most goals!

 

Kesean on the ball!

Kesean receives the 2015 Republic Cup National Youth Football League trophy following his team’s victory

 

Kesean poses with his trophies following the final of the 2015 Republic Cup

National Youth Football League

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kesean with his mom and little sister

So there you have it: a fourteen year old striker who comes from a supportive family and loving community, possesses sound leadership ability as well as a stable temperament and has an insatiable appetite for scoring goals. An embarras de richesses if there ever was one.

Who knows? Maybe a Real Madrid scout might read this story and contact Kesean for a stint with their youth academy, La Fabrica. But they’d better hurry because if Real doesn’t grab him, some other top European club surely will come knocking on his door sooner or later.

As we end this feature, let’s go back to where we began. It’s 2022. Real are playing Barca in front of 85,000 fans at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium. The scores are level and we’re into time added on. Kesean St. Rose is on the ball for Real. He goes past one defender, then another… and scores!

Doesn’t sound so much like a dream anymore, does it?


Special thanks to Shiva Maharaj and Dave Quamina for assisting with making the interview to do this story possible.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By: Chris Selochan | FEATURES | September 2015


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