Andre Rampersad loves Halifax, and the feeling is mutual for anyone who knows the Wanderers’ captain.
But the midfielder from Trinidad and Tobago couldn’t help but smile as he sat in front of his webcam, not in Halifax, with a warm February day in the background. The city has become a home for the man known as Rampy, but for the first time in a good while, Rampy was truly home.
It was a long time coming. Rampersad had remained in Halifax since the 2020 CPL season. Riding out two off-seasons (and Canadian winters) away from his friends and family. But in December, he made his big return, though he tried to keep it a surprise to those closest to him.
“I got in late at night, and my Grandma was laying in bed, but she heard my voice and was up right away and so excited,” Rampersad said. “We all really missed each other; I played three seasons in Halifax without seeing my family.”
“My grandparents are like my parents, I’ve grown up with them, and I live with them when I come home, they’ve had a big hand in my life for sure.”
Rampersad definitely wasn’t taking the quality time at home for granted. He would be returning to Halifax for the upcoming season and knew he had to do all of the favourite things he missed about Trinidad.
“It’s easy to say the beach because come on, the water is so warm, but the best part is just getting time to chill with friends and family,” Rampersad said. “And the food is better because I don’t have to cook for myself!”
This offseason felt well-needed for Rampersad. A chance to reset mentally and physically with some comfortable surroundings after a tough season in Halifax for the captain.
“I definitely said to myself that coming into this off-season, I think I needed to come home and clear my mind, just get my mind off football,” he said. “When I am in Halifax, that is all that is on my mind. So seeing family, laughing, having good conversations, I think it really helps for my upcoming season.”
And a lot has happened since the off-season began. A new coach in Patrice Gheisar, and over a dozen new teammates have joined the club during this break. Through all that change, Gheisar has spoken highly of Rampersad whenever asked about his captain.
“It’s a great feeling to know that he’s coming in and putting his faith in me. I can only say the same for him, I’ve watched his teams play, and they look very good.”
Since the new coach arrived, some of that chatter around Rampersad has been about the possibility of playing higher up the field, compared to the holding midfielder role seen for much of 2022. It’s a challenge that excites the captain.
“It’s going to be awesome, I like playing a bit higher up, it’s exciting to see the new players come in, and that coach can maybe push me higher in the midfield,” he said. “I’ve only scored one goal in four years, so I think the chance to get closer to the box will give me the confidence to go score.”
Wherever he lines up for the Wanderers, some milestones are quickly approaching. Already the club’s all-time leader in appearances, Rampersad is three matches away from 100 appearances for the club. That veteran presence will be an asset on a team just getting to know each other in March.
And while the faces may have changed, Rampersad says his approach to leading the team won’t change.
“I always want to set an example, how I move on the pitch, how I carry myself, how I train. I like people to see examples and not be the guy saying, ‘do this, do that,’ I like to show. I know it will be a bit more on me with some older guys leaving, but I’m looking forward to it.”
In order to get ready for what lies ahead, Rampersad has taken advantage of the warmer climate. Daily sessions outside on a pitch near his home combined with a lot of time in the gym have the midfielder raring to go as Wanderers camp looms.
“I’m really excited, it’s time to get back to the job, and this year we really gotta bring it.”