Life after Seaga - West Kingston club embark on first RSPL season after chairman’s passing
Tivoli Gardens FC knew that this season would test them in more ways than they could hope to imagine.
After all, how does one manage to move forward from a man that was the embodiment of not only the club, but the entire community?
They found the going tough in their season opener against The University of the West Indies (UWI) FC, losing 4-0 at the UWI Bowl as the western Kingston club began life without their chairman, the late Edward Seaga.
The former prime minister of Jamaica, who founded the club in 1970, was in many ways the driving force behind the activities that contributed to the success of the club and also the wider community.
It was his leadership that guided Tivoli to five Premier League titles, the most recent of those being in 2011. They also captured three FLOW Champions Cup titles in 1999, 2006, and in their double winning season in 2011.
Midfielder Jermaine 'Teddy' Johnson said that his absence has been felt throughout the team during their pre-season preparations, but was adamant that the team is motivated more than ever to have a good season in his memory.
"To be honest, it's not the same so far," he said. "But we are trying to get there. [Although] Seaga is not with us, we want to do well for him. So that's the motivation for the team."
The veteran player who knew Seaga since he was just 16 years old said that while the loss is colossal, it has not affected the day-to-day operations of the club.
"It's not that bad to be honest, because you have people there [who worked] with Seaga," he said. "We are still trying to get over his death, but we are still strong. We are still trying to stay strong just for him. So it's not that bad when people think about it."
Johnson said the club's transition has been made easier with the addition of Member of Parliament Desmond McKenzie, who is now part of the board of directors for the club.
"We have Desmond McKenzie now on board," Johnson said. "He was very close to Seaga, so it is good for the team. It's like Seaga never left. It is a good presence to have someone so powerful in the community and in the club."
Tivoli Gardens' first home game will be against fierce rivals Arnett Gardens at the Edward Seaga Sports Complex this Sunday at 3:30 p.m.