Former West Indies wicket keeper and manager Vincentian T. Michael Findlay has paid glowing tribute to a number of current and former Vincentian sports personalities.
Findlay, a St. Vincent and the Grenadines Sports Ambassador and erstwhile journalist, made the tribute while delivering the keynote address, on Aug. 17, on the 40th anniversary celebration of the Brooklyn-based Vincentian sports club, Hairoun, at the Friends of Crown Heights Educational Center on Logan Street in East New York.
After Sherill-Ann Mason-Haywood, president of the Brooklyn-based St. Vincent and the Grenadines Diaspora Committee of New York, Inc., introduced Findlay, he, in turn, praised Mason-Haywood’s late fast-bowling father Frank Odel “F.O.” Mason, describing him as “another of our sports icons.”
He said Mason was “one of those persons responsible for helping to develop my cricketing skills and for molding my personality.”
In acknowledging, in the audience, the presence of one of his other team mates of yester year, Garnet Niles, “a wicket-keeper of great skills,” Findlay said Niles was also his “inspiration.”
Niles was one of five recipients of Hairoun Sports Club’s Lifetime Achievement Award. The others were: Former St. Vincent and the Grenadines’ national netball star Gloria Lewis; former soccer administrator Basil “Bung” Cato; former soccer star Raymond DeBique; Hairoun Sports Club’s co-founder and community advocate Earl Horne; and veteran Vincentian radio personality Donn Bobb.
Findlay noted that “Manning” Jackson was one of his cricketing colleagues “of past years,” and that, though he [Findlay], also a former national soccer goal keeper, did not play much with De Bique, he had “watched him and admired his skills.”
While acknowledging also the presence of a number of sports figures with whom he had played cricket and soccer, Findlay said he especially remembered “those highly intensive games between my club, Saints, and Notre Dames, one of the best football [soccer] teams to have come out of St. Vincent.”
“I am still firm in my belief that players like Rudy Boucher, Norbert Hall, Dougie Doyle, Fred Trimmingham and Jeff Bailey were ahead of their time,” he declared. “We had some great matches at Victoria Park [in capital Kingstown], and through all that, we never allowed the intensity of the football to affect our brotherly relationships.”
The sports ambassador disclosed that the former Notre Dames, Honved, Pastures United and St. Vincent and the Grenadines defender, Leslie Ollivierre, was scheduled to have surgery for a “benign enlarged prostate” on the Tuesday before the event, and that he had seen him the day before, adding that Ollivierre was in “good spirits.”
“He was still in recovery when I went back to check on him on Tuesday afternoon,” Findlay said. “Remember him in your prayers that he would have a speedy and full recovery.”
Findlay said “the passage of time has not dimmed the many outstanding performances” that he had seen on Lewis and others of her time at the domestic and regional levels at the Youth Centre in the heart of Kingstown, now the headquarters of telecommunications giants, Flow.
Stating that the 40th anniversary of any organization is “a significant milestone deserving of worthy praise and celebration,” Findlay congratulated Hairoun Sports Club’s president and co-founder Stanley “Luxie” Morris, a former national soccer captain and also sports ambassador.
In addition, Findlay lauded Hairoun’s current executive and “as well as those who served throughout the club’s existence, and especially to its members who have been the very core of the club’s continuity over those 40 years.
“In establishing the club here in New York and continuing to function so efficiently for four decades, the members of Hairoun Sports Club have shown the same tenacity that Carib Chiefs Chatoyer and Duvale demonstrated in their superb leadership during the long and bitter war against the British colonialists to maintain ownership and control of their beloved Hairouna, land of the blessed,” he said.
“While 40 years is not the ‘be all and end all’ of Hairoun Sports Club, you have so far made great strides, and you have earned the respect and admiration of those of us who have been following your progress,” he added.
Findlay noted that “those who are being honored this evening never earned a dime from their exploits on the football and cricket fields and netball courts of St. Vincent and the Grenadines and the region.
“They played for the glory of their clubs and country, and their performances were, indeed, worthy of very high praise,” he said. “In fact, for the amount of talent they possessed, in another country and at another time, they may very well have been included on Forbes Magazine’s list of wealthy sportsmen.”
Besides the Lifetime Achievement Awardees, among the long list of other honorees at the gala event were Findlay himself; calypsonians and sports ambassadors Winston Soso and Cyril “Scorcher” Thomas; Doyle; Bailey; Colville Browne; Caswell Blugh; Garfied Cupid; Derek Dupont; Mory and Sheen Millington; Raymond and Vibert Ballantyne; Raymond Soso; Stanley “Luxy” and Pete Morris; Boucher; Rudolph Mayers; and John Cato.
Hairoun Sports Club also honored posthumously soccer stars Keith “Slick” Bonadie; Sam DeBique; Babbs and Norman Jones; Archie Mandeville; Williams Muckette; Tyrone Spence and Trimmingham.
Gladson George received a Special Award as the “Ever-Present VP Fan” for Notre Dame Sports Club and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.