Positive energy, star power and community exposure are what West Indies cricket great Brian Lara is hoping to bring to the Barataria community on Saturday via a T20 match at the Barataria Oval.
The match will be between an XL led by Lara himself and one captained by his former West Indies team mate, Dinanath Ramnarine, and will include a mix of past West Indies players, current local stars and cricketers from the area.
But in addressing the media at the Oval yesterday, Lara said the match was more about community outreach than cricket.
“Today, what is going on in Trinidad and Tobago, you need a little bit more positive energy coming out and if we could have an effect on two or three youngsters in any particular community that we go to, it would be wonderful.”
He added: “It's a search to get into the minds of the youngsters. We need to start loving and living together again because Trinidad and Tobago is going through a really, really tough time.”
Expanding on the need for positive energy he said: “Every youngster that had done some criminal activity, you speak to them, they love sports; so it's something else we have to give to them, some sort of hope. One of the messages I'd like to give is that we are not dealing with failures very well in this country.
“I think a very big part of any sportsman's life is to do deal with failures...We have a lot of youngsters who are experiencing a lot of hardships and they are turning to alternative things..and this is when you really how much of a man you are when you can pick yourself up, dust your pants and move on and do things...This is one of the messages I want to get around to the youths because we not gonna have Test cricketers or international footballers just coming out of Barataria because of this match, but what we'd like to see is everybody sort of get a grip of themselves, understand that there are so many different things to life and how to deal with it and that's the message we'll be trying to spread throughout our tour.”
Lara said the venture on Saturday would be the start of what he plans to make a monthly exercise, with Tobago targeted as the next stop next month.
But the T&T sports ambassador is also keen that these community matches also bring attention to the venues in which they are played.
“If you look around this facility, it's nothing near where the West Indies would head to a country ground and play in Australia, in England or any other parts of the world, so this is something of an embarrassment and we expect to produce a lot of young players,” he said.
He hopes matches like the one on Saturday will spark action from the authorities, but that the communities themselves eventually, “take the responsibility to ensure that they generate income to have this working properly throughout the year and for many years to come.”
For Saturday's match, Lara is expecting the public in Barataria and the surrounding San Juan and Morvant communities to support the venture.
And he is also promising to introduce a young batting talent in the person of 13-year-old Barbadian, Jacob Bethel.
”People say that I batted like that when I was 13, well I hope I did because he's just an awesome little youth and you'll get an opportunity to see him.”
Game time on Saturday is 5 p.m.