The UWI St Augustine Campus conferred an honorary LLD on politician and sports administrator, Alloy Lequay (AL) last week. Lequay shared some thoughts on the society's development with UWI Today (UT).
UT: Asking your opinion on the current state of local and regional cricket is irresistible, so please share your thoughts.
AL: Local cricket has made tremendous strides mainly due to its pillars of integrity, stability and accountability, and the commitment by the present officers to ensure a development pathway. Incentives have been provided to players, not necessarily financial, but including regional representation, which creates opportunity for upward movement, specialised coaching and mental preparation.
Our National Cricket Centre, including our Frank Worrell Development Centre with indoor and outdoor nets and gym, has also contributed as its facilities make it possible to train even in adverse weather conditions.
In the past five years our national senior team has performed consistently in the shorter version of the game and our performances have earned us international recognition with many of our players gaining international contracts, which is creating an availability conflict.
The West Indies team performances seem to be showing signs of improvement with the High Performance Centre in Barbados being a major contributor. Unfortunately, local cricket in all of the affiliates of the West Indies Cricket Board does not appear to be structured to ensure development and this could retard growth, notwithstanding the employment by the WICB of Territorial Development Officers. The ongoing conflicts in the Guyana Cricket Board and the disharmonious relationship between the WICB and the West Indies Players Association also restrict development.
Unfortunately, the WICB did not consider it feasible to fully implement recommendations of the PJ Patterson Committee's report on restructuring the administration of cricket. The reluctance seems to have been a result of territorial boards concluding that their authority was being diluted. Only some recommendations were implemented and the WICB sent the report to the Calvin Wilkins Committee to review the un-implemented sections. The Wilkins report is now before the Board.
Until the WICB can decide to whom it is responsible for the structured development of West Indies cricket there will be restricted progress. If the administrative structure is not stable and accountable, our cricket will be constantly battered by the tide of mediocrity.
UT: In two years you will be 90; this country has just turned 50, what in your lifetime has been the national change that meant the most to you?
AL: The national change which I shall relate created opportunity for upward mobility and gave me space to pursue my vision of freedom and independence.
This change can be located in the period of the seventies and was fuelled by what we recall as the Black Power Revolution.
In the late sixties I was convinced that there had to be a struggle for cricket's independence from the gridlock constitutionally imposed by the social elite of that era who felt they had the right to rule and lead. Restrictions prevented both administrators and players from leadership roles if they did not belong to a particular club.
Change did not come until October 1980 and only after the report of a Commission of Enquiry (The Rees Report) was approved by Cabinet. The Trinidad Cricket Council was founded in June 1956, but was not independent until 1980. The transformation of Trinidad and Tobago's cricket, physically from cities to villages remains my legacy, hence its importance to me.
UT: Do you feel that T&T at 50 has matured in the way it should have?
AL: The expansion of our education system—primary, secondary, tertiary and GATE has given us the capacity to develop our powers of thinking.
Regrettably however we are constrained by our divisiveness and political agendas. The plural nature of our society makes this a difficult task and the lack of visionary leaders, with a focus on nation building instead of a penchant to satisfy egos, has made the task even more onerous.
Our maturity is perhaps an outlook of our personal characteristics and to look at maturity in a holistic sense needs a merging of various interests. Our constitutional framework might have delayed a more mature approach to national development, as it does not cater for all interest groups to have opportunity to become part of the national decision-making process and consequently separate national agendas develop and create space for conflict.
UT: There is a lot of pessimism in the country. What bright spots do you see?
AL: On balance, I agree , there is a lot of pessimism in the country, but this appears to be exacerbated by a bias of media reporting which seems to highlight the negatives to feed the culture of a citizenry which seems to hunger for "mauvais langue" and juicy gossip. Still I find there are bright spots, such as the emergence of Police Youth Clubs as an initiative to reduce criminal activity; the resurgence and expansion of our cadet corps to instill a sense of loyalty and national pride, and the growing numbers of our youth involved in sports and cultural activities and ready to represent T&T on the regional and international stage. I also see it in efforts to unleash the creative capacity of our young people through music, arts, design, film and other similar innovative life styles.
UT: What does this honorary LLD degree mean to you?
AL: When I received the call to submit my Curriculum Vitae, I was surprised, and, truthfully, a little reluctant as I associated an honorary degree to academic qualifications. Upon reflection, I realised that the honorary award was for national service, which I had given voluntarily and at this stage of my life I feel emotionally fulfilled.
My childhood days were of struggle growing up without a father, who died when I was eight, and living in an environment of hardship. I used sports, community work and politics as building blocks to achieve some of the Creator's expectations in exchange for the talent of organisational skills bestowed on me.
I have always tried to perform my national duties with dignity and humility. As a Senator of Junior Chamber International, I was taught "service to humanity is the best work of life" and the LLD degree conferred by the distinguished University of the West Indies gives truth to the Jaycee's creed. UWI has placed a stamp of approval on my life's work.
—Courtesy UWI Today