On Target
May 6, 2005
Politics & Sport

There has always been a correlation between politics and sports. Many persons have climbed up the political ladder to the mantle of leadership after having made their mark on the sporting field.

Grenadian Prime Minister Keith Mitchell is one example who still maintains his interest in cricket. He is a former national captain, hence his affinity to the sport. {{more}}

On the Vincentian front, former Prime Minister Robert Milton Cato’s interaction with sports personalities perhaps laid the foundation for his eventual elevation to political office. His tenure with the National Cricket Association served to broaden his mass base.

A number of parliamentarians also made their mark on the field of play. Former opposition leader Calder Williams won the North Leeward constituency, against all odds in December 1979. He was a stalwart fast bowler, and had satisfactory returns for the national squad in the Windward Islands tournament. The respect he commanded in cricket must have gone some way in endearing him to the electorate.

Williams’ brief political career was mired in controversy. He has now opted for a humble life but keeps his mental faculties in tune with cricketing activities. He officiates in North Leeward and imparts his bowling skills to the younger generation.

Mike Browne, soon to assume to the Foreign Affairs, Commerce and Trade Ministry, likes to remember his days as a wicket-keeper for the combined islands Under 19 squad. His skills in cricket, and other sports for that matter have been well documented.

Browne beat another talented cricketer, Dr. Linton Lewis in West St. George in 2001. Lewis, a former Windward Islands batsman, has now switched constituencies to take on Clayton Burgin in East St. George.

That could be dubbed a cricket clash. Though Burgin is not as renowned on the regional cricket scene as Lewis is, he is a committed cricketer on the local First Division circuit.

Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves is the genuine Caribbean man. Cricket is his first love and he follows the sport with an intensity which matches his national, regional and international interests.

Senator Glen Beache likes to recall the suffering he endured as an athlete because he happened to have been the son of one Sir Vincent Beache. He however kept up his ambition and no one was able to dampen his desire to advance beyond the field of play.

‘Scombo’John has been a cricketer. So much so that he came out in full cricket gear, bat, pad, mittens, helmet and flannels when he declared himself candidate for South Windward during the 2001 election. He must have been practising his shots since his loss to Sir Vincent Beache, and will be looking for a bigger score in the second innings next election.

The sporting inclination has not been limited to cricket, even though that game has penetrated the Caribbean psyche to an extreme degree.

Major St. Claire Leacock is most famous for his role in football. He revelled in the spotlight during this country’s World Cup bid, which ended in happiness and gloom last November. For, whereas as the national team made some admirable performances, they failed to deliver the knock out punch that would have seen them into the Concacaf final six. They also missed an opportunity for greater international appeal had they made it to the final of the Digicel Caribbean Cup. Leacock must have suffered this pain of team’s loss.

Patel Matthews has been known for his contribution to basketball in North Leeward. His involvement in sport as a whole has been well known in his home village of Petit Bordel and the entire constituency as a whole.

Alfred Bynoe served as Senator, and also contested the South Windward constituency. He has abandoned political ambitions, but his dedication to cricket in South Windward and at the national and regional levels, still remains. He has represented the nation with merit.

Former Attorney General Carlyle Dougan is from a cricketing family, and he shows brilliance whenever he gets the opportunity to display his skills as a batsman.

Former Senator Stuart Nanton was perhaps the embodiment of tennis here. His involvement with the sport was part of a family tradition, which spread out to the widest grass roots level.

The list of politicians with established links in sports will be lengthened, and surprising inclusions will be underlined.

Governor General Sir Frederick Ballantyne is in as good a shape a batsman as ever.

Vance Amory is a genuine sample of the regional stock. For once having distinguished himself on the field as a Combined Islands opening batsman, it is no surprise that he turned out to be a pillar in Nevisian politics.

Edison James turned up as manager of the Windward Islands Cricket team before being catapulted to political leadership in his native Dominica. Whether he returned to the post of Prime Minister should have been decided in yesterday’s poll.

Former Prime Minister Sir James Mitchell may not have been popular on the sporting field. But if fishing takes off as a Caribbean sport, Sir James might have some lessons to pass on. Arnhim Eustace is from a sporting family, even if he might not have been keen to expand on the family heritage.

Besides on the field, the language of sporting activities and events has become the norm in every day expression. And whether or not one is a sports fan, he or she has to know the terminology in order to get across to a wider cross section of the population.

The Caribbean is a breeding ground for talented sport personalities. Their strengths are often revealed according to the demands of the situation, whether at universities in the Caribbean, or outside.