In 2000, I was awarded a full athletic (soccer) scholarship to play for Berry College, in Georgia. One of the keepsakes that my diligent parents would provide for my departure was a book called Inward Hunger, the autobiography of Dr. Eric Williams. In 1999, I concluded my advanced level studies at Queen’s Royal College, and would often marvel as both students and teachers alike exalted the virtues of the College’s finest; Dr. Eric Eustace Williams, Dr. Rudranath Capildeo, Lloyd Best, Sir Vidia Naipaul, Deryck Murray, and Wendell Mottley among others. However, the truth of the matter is that there was so very little I actually knew growing up about the “Father of the Nation.” It would also take another three years while packing my belongings to leave University that I would stumble upon the book and finally begin reading.
Inward Hunger was adapted into a historical documentary by Mariel Brown, and was screened for the first time on local television on September 24, 2011. It is a three-part documentary, which chronicles the life of the first Prime Minister from professor to politician. As I considered my desire to use this space to raise the storytelling bar for Caribbean athletes, I pondered during my morning training session on the theme Inward Hunger.
As a Nation on the cusp of celebrating our forty- first anniversary as a Republic there are so many bright beacons of hope where our young athletes, administrators, and ‘grass-roots’ sports developers are concerned. We may bemoan financing, lack of vision, economic challenges, but in the midst of constraints, we continue to produce, world-class athletes. It is easier for me to focus on the positives, and accept my role and responsibility for all that has been given to me to drive simple, but tangible change in my community, with my ideas, my vision, and my ability to garner support that is not entirely dependent on government funding.
There is hope, not only for our athletes who toil persistently to achieve excellence, but sport marketers, sport event promoters, Federations who have business models that are being executed, because of innovation, vision, and freshness in approach; receiving both public and private sector support even in the midst of challenging economic times.
Trevlon Hall, in 2002, became the first Trinidadian to enter a professional international BMX Freestyle event, and over the last 20 years has pioneered the trajectory of the sport in Trinidad and Tobago by hosting events across the country with some of the world’s top professional BMX athletes with support from key sponsors because he is a visionary.
The Trinidad and Tobago Cycling Federation recently hosted the Elite Pan American Championships with some of the best cyclists in the world at the National Cycling Centre. I have been watching closely the consistent and proactive approach that this Federation has taken under the leadership of President Mr. Robert Farrier, lobbying for the use of the state-of-the art cycling facility at Couva as a training venue for cyclists in the Pan American and the Caribbean area. This has tremendous potential to generate foreign exchange, and can be one of the key sports on the sports tourism, and economic diversification agenda.
Kyle Lequay (33)-T & T Beach Soccer President, is a sports marketing, event promotion entrepreneur. Serious and engaged, he became the youngest President of a Football Association and runs a sports marketing company that hosts sports tourism events. His latest, “Cheer in the Sun” will bring hundreds of cheerleading enthusiasts from all around the world to the island of Tobago from December 14-19, 2017.
Sports entrepreneurs, athletes, and enablers of this generation and beyond have to be innovative, non-conventional risk takers, constantly reinventing, improving and fearless in their approach towards developing the future sporting industry of our nation.
Jamila Cross is a triathlete, former professional footballer for Sevilla FC women’s Club Spain, and mother of two boys Tishad and Akim. She is the founder of the Mariama Foundation, a registered non-profit organisation raising the storytelling bar for the Caribbean’s female athletes.