Emotional hockey teams promise CAC gold for Kwasi

National hockey player Kristien Emmanuel, centre, brother of deceased Kwasi Emmanuel, is consoled by a female player at the Piarco International Airport yesterday.

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THE parents and brother of ex-national under-21 hockey captain Kwasi Emmanuel put aside their grief over his shocking death on Saturday to offer words of encouragement to his former teammates yesterday as they left to represent this country at the Central America and Caribbean (CAC) Games in Barranquilla, Colombia, from July 19-August 3.

Parents Nigel and Delisa Emmanuel lifted the melancholy spirits of the national men and women’s teams in an emotional moment at the departure lounge of the Piarco International Airport.

The seemingly composed couple said they felt it was what their son, who died at age 21, would have wanted them to do.

They had only hours before attended the autopsy which revealed Kwasi died of a heart attack.

“I know this is hard, but if you all knew Kwasi, he would have been here cheering on the most despondent, encouraging you to put your trust in God and gather your strength to put all your energy and win. Bring back gold for our country. He would have smiled and gotten others to smile, no matter what anyone was facing,” urged his father Nigel.

The mother of the former Queen’s Royal College student smiled and hugged several of her son’s teammates.

Her sons Keiron, Kwasi and Kristien Emmanuel, had been the first trio of siblings to make it to the national U-21 hockey team.

Kristien, the youngest of the trio, smiled sadly as he hugged his teammates shortly before they boarded their flight for Colombia.

He is scheduled to join them over the weekend, following the burial of his brother on Thursday.

Both brothers had been scheduled to represent the country at the CAC Games.

TT coach Glen Francis said the team had been “in a mess” since learning of Kwasi’s death, but several had been able to re-focus since visiting his parents at their home in Tacarigua on Sunday.

“They (the parents) really boosted the team’s morale...it was really hard for us all on Sunday. It didn’t have anyone – including me – that wasn’t crying. Then they spoke to us, we saw their strength and recognised that it was from there that Kwasi got his faith and strength and we couldn’t help but realize we had to show the same. He was an outstanding player, goalie and an outstanding individual. He would have been here with us smiling as usual, but he will be with us through his brother, his parents’ words and his spirit. We brought home silver last Games, we will bring home gold this time,” declared Francis.

He said the team’s psychologist had met with them to help them get through this difficult moment.

National hockey administrator Cindy Martin-Faustin said initially they had “hoped, prayed it was a prank” when they first saw condolences being posted on Kwasi’s Facebook page early Saturday night.

Amanda George, one of Emmanuel’s friend and a national female player, said she will dedicate her performance to Kwasi.

“We are thinking positive – it’s what he would have wanted us to do. We decided to take our sorrow and turn it into gold. So we intend to bring home no less than two gold medals in Kwasi’s name,” she said.

Kwasi’s funeral service will be held at 1 pm on Thursday at Faith Assembly International Church, Five Rivers, Arouca. He will be cremated at the Belgrove Crematorium, Tacarigua.

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