Minister of Education, Dr the Honourable Tim Gopeesingh
July 09, 2012:
A very pleasant good morning to all of you here today, and once more, I am very very heartened to share in today’s celebrations of the achievement of our young children.
Just last week, when the SEA 2012 results were released, the nation witnessed firsthand the tremendous potential of our primary school children; our citizens saw and were inspired by their intelligence and commitment to hard work and achievement at such a young age, and once more, we see a demonstration of this commitment to excellence here today, at the 2012 Awards Ceremony of the Atlantic National Primary Schools Cricket League.
As our nation celebrates the 50th anniversary of our Independence, we are in a reflective state—pondering over the societal ills that continue to plague us, especially when it comes to crime, violence and the involvement of the youth in these terrible activities.
We are in a state where we wonder about our future survival and prosperity, but as this year’s achievements of our students at all levels continue to demonstrate, we really don’t have much to fear.
In fact, as today occasions, we have much to celebrate, for before us here today, in the achievements of these beautiful children, these boys and girls who have excelled in the field of sports, we see our future in great, capable hands and we see a guarantee for progress and prosperity decades from now in their feats and in them as a generation.
And I do not hesitate to say that what makes a function like this one even more special for me is that it celebrates a personal passion of mine—cricket.
Before I go further, however, I wish to take the time to express, on behalf of the Ministry of Education and myself, my deep gratitude to Atlantic for its ongoing sponsorship of this very important series of games.
I have often said that such a commitment to the development of our young children, and thus, an investment in our country’s economic and social future, is always akin to a display of patriotism at its best and I hope that, having sponsored this event for nine consecutive years, Atlantic will continue to do so for a very long time to come.
I am also grateful to the organizers of the National Primary Schools Cricket League, which has a very long, proud history in our nation, having been established nearly four decades ago, in 1973, and today, has grown to tremendous lengths of success to the point where, in the 2012 competition, 325 Boys’ schools and 230 Girls’ schools throughout Trinidad and Tobago participated, which represents over 8000 students of our nation.
I am advised that over the past few years, the standard of the cricket game has been on the rise in the participating primary schools and later this year, quite a few players from this league could find themselves being called for, as the TTCB prepares for the bi-lateral U-13 Goodwill Series against Barbados.
Indeed, several players who passed through this system under sponsorship over the past few years have gone on to greater heights in regional cricket, such as former West Indies Under-15 captain Stephen Katwaroo, who has also qualified for the national senior cricket team.
Without doubt, this competition has also contributed significantly to the overall development of cricket in Trinidad and Tobago, and it is very heartening to see that teachers are now taking up coaching jobs on Zonal and National Teams.
As Minister of Education, I have often stressed the significance of sports to the development of our children, the education system and our society in general.
I have often quoted research which shows that the positive impact of sports participation for children is overwhelming; it has the power to combat everything from aggression to low self-image, to the high-school drop-out rate.
By sponsoring this league and ensuring its tremendous success, the sponsors ensure therefore that they contribute to the positive development of our nation’s children, and mould them to be the future leaders of tomorrow in every way.
This league competition also goes hand in hand with the Ministry of Education’s new thrust for development of extra-curricular activities and sports in our schools, in our bid to combat obesity, low performance and violence and indiscipline among students.
I have said before that the fact that is focused on children at the early, primary school level is even more beneficial since it allows for children to hone and develop a talent before their teenage years and thus, catches the problems of teenaged violence and indiscipline, undoubtedly caused in part by low self esteem and a lack of academic skills, in most.
And, as I said before, the league promotes the development of physical fitness in our children while they are young, thus playing a role in combating the problem of obesity in our children.
But one of the main contributions of this cricket league is to promote the development of our beloved national and regional sport, cricket.
Now, I am fond of giving my cricketing history and I will give it again—the little ones here and even their parents may not know this but long before I was a doctor or Minister of Education, I was a cricketer; in fact, I hold the record as being the first ever medical doctor in Trinidad and Tobago to have played professional cricket as a national cricketer.
From 1971-1978, I was a fast bowler who played first class cricket in Jamaica while studying medicine at the Mona Campus of the University of the West Indies, for the combined Universities of the West Indies team against New Zealand, Australia, and I also played first class cricket for Queens Park Cricket club in Trinidad. Batting and fielding averages
In 1975, 1976 and 1977 I topped Trinidad’s bowling average in the domestic cricket competition. In 1978 I represented Trinidad against Australia and my cricketing stats are recorded on the ESPN CRICINFO website:
I’m not telling you this to blow my own trumpet, but to show you that you can have a career in academia and sports combined if you put your minds to it, since sports and academia are not mutually exclusive and I urge you all to always remember to study hard while you play hard.
Cricket, especially, is a symbol of our way of life in Trinidad and Tobago and the West Indies and it has enormous global weight. We are seen, worldwide, as an enormously competitive, enthusiastic cricketing people who work as hard as we play and play as hard as we work. When our country and region falls in its performance and reputation in cricket, that has considerable reverberations in the national consciousness.
So continue to play hard and aim for the stars, and may God always bless you in your endeavors.
To all participants this year, and to the winners, I say hearty congratulations and may you always continue to shine in cricket and in your school work.
Special congratulations for the winners in 2012:
National Boys – Whim Anglican School in Tobago
National Girls – Guayaguayare Girls R.C.
• Inter School Boys – Whim Anglican School, Tobago
• Inter School Girls – Bon Adventure Presbyterian School
• Super League – Sangre Grande Hindu School
Congratulations too, to your teachers, principals, coaches and parents, and I sincerely hope that you continue demonstrating the dedication hard work, discipline and successes that participating in these games will engender to all aspects of your young lives.
I also hope you will always take these positive attributes of the game, and learn and improve on them, so they will develop your character and achievements in later life.
Have a safe wonderful vacation period to all of you, and let us always have a great game when we play cricket and indeed, in every other aspect of our lives.
Thank you and God bless each and every one of you.