By Dr. George C. Brathwaite
Finally, the attention that sports deserves, it is receiving. Yesterday, Caribbean Times paid a visit to the Sir Viv Richards (National) Stadium at North Sound to meet with Minister responsible for Sport, the Honourable Paul ‘Chet’ Greene. On entry to the sprawling compound, it was noticeable the hive of activities going on as workers were busy erecting a large tent, others manicuring the greenery, and yet others bustling around preparing the venue for a series of events inclusive of the First Test Match England versus the West Indies at the ground bearing the name and statue of the magnanimous Antiguan and National Hero, His Excellency, Sir Vivian Alexander Richards.
On hand to greet Caribbean Times was the Minister himself; he was surrounded by a hive of committed workers, perhaps a far contrast from what may have occurred prior to Greene’s entry as Minister of Sports. Certainly, the intent is not to harp on the misdeeds of the previous administration, but given the importance of this national treasure carrying the name of an excellent son of the soil, is to understand the many things that ought to have been in pristine shape and proper working order. As most persons may know, Sir Viv is revered across the world by both cricketing and non-cricketing nations. Why is it then, for example, that so many manageable things at the national stadium were allowed to exist without the same commitment to excellence that Sir Viv himself exhibited on and off the cricket field?
In fact, as Minister Greene outlined several innovative plans and numerous other prospects for high-profiling the nation’s best at local, regional, and international levels, it became clear that the Chet Greenewas already achieving what the previous Minister responsible for Sport was unable to accomplish, even if no direct fault of his.
Without a doubt, Minister Paul Greene is transcending his passion for sport through his administrative capabilities and his foresight for the national development of sport in Antigua and Barbuda without prejudice. As a matter of correctness, Greene has assured that at least one stand would be fitted with seats showing to the world the colours of the Antigua flag, both as cultural symbolism and to encourage public perception to negate the narrow differentiation which has been exhausted on colourful blue and yellow seats appearing more reflective of a political preference than according nationalistic value.
This national Sir Viv Richards Stadium will in the very near future become a centre of prominence globally. According to the Minister, and of major acclaim for positively impacting on Antigua and Barbuda as a nation, will be an official launching of the Four Knight’s Cricket Academy. The very titular sense is that for a small country such as Antigua and Barbuda to have produced – within basically a single generation – four men of incredible stature and bounds of excellence the likes of Sir Viv, Sir Andy, Sir Ritchie, and Sir Curtly is stellar by any measure. That the Minister is bent on maximising the nostalgic flow from these men of excellence so as to bring great monetary rewards and other boosts for the Antigua and Barbuda economy and society, demonstrates a foresight that has long been built up on the commitment to national development.
There are vital synergies to be capitalised upon criss-crossing the various ministries that fall under Minister Greene’s portfolio. So too are they synergies working across the entire spectrum of other ministries. Indeed, Minister Greene was extremely pleased to be in a position to thank, in particular, the Prime Minister, the Ministers of Health, Tourism, Labour, Aviation, and generally the Cabinet for facilitating the projects that he has put on the table to advance the country whilst lift Antigua and Barbuda sports from the doldrums. As Greene, said, Antigua has done very well in the past, “and we can do much better,” and it is precisely why all four of the Knights have committed to being involved to push the concept and implementation of the proposed academy.
Looking out at the pitch with the background view of the rolling hills, and to the left the waters that massage these shorelines, the English will enjoy the days at cricket which will have its own intrigue. There will be the traditional carnival spirit that is blended with cultural displays ensuring that Antigua and Barbuda takes advantage of the visibility it will get in the international arenas. More profound is, according to Minister Greene, the fact that “Antigua and Barbuda is now well-placed” to take “the mantle of leadership” and provide the entire Caribbean region with examples of how to recover, and find re-growth in spite of real or imagined recent crises which affected the psyche and performances of West Indies cricket. Greene said, “Antigua will lead” and he reminded Caribbean Times, that Prime Minister Browne’s statement that “losing is not an option” is etched in stone and in the memories we have of the Four Knights.
Next week, the West Indies team will start its training and preparation at the national stadium. Minister Greene is urging all of Antigua to come out to the Sir Viv Richards Stadium and support the young cricketers and their new coach. He has especially requested through impassioned plea, to let the revival of Antiguan, Leeward Islands, and by extension West Indies cricket start at this ground that is a symbol of excellence performed. Rally, rally, rally round the West Indies. The indomitable spirit of Antigua is very much alive, and “lead” we will in getting most things right if not perfect. The field of play is looking splendid and the water woes of the past, are no more due “to the help of the APUA and the Minister’s intervention.” West Indies versus England will bring people to Antigua and Barbuda; this opportunity must not be missed to generate commercial activities in the country on the springboard of support for the Four Knights, the current West Indies team and new coach Phil Simmons. Antigua nd Barbuda can and will do it.