Thursday, 29 March 2012 02:30
By press release
Antigua St John's - MP Asot Michael recently gave the feature address to members of the national football team and gathered officials during the launch of the Benna Boys' 2014 World Cup Campaign.
He was speaking on behalf of Opposition Leader Lester Bird at the Sugar Ridge Resort on Tuesday.
Michael's presentation is reprinted in full below for public interest.
Mr. Master of Ceremony, Honorable Dr. Winston Baldwin Spencer, Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, Members of Parliament, President of the ABFA, Mr. Everton Gonsalves, General Secretary of the ABFA, Mr. Gordon Derrick, ABFA Executive Members, Business Partners, Representatives of National Media Houses, Special Guests, last and deliberately so- Members of the National Team, Management and Coaching staff, good night.
I want to take this opportunity to thank the President and General Secretary of the A.B.F.A for having offered me the opportunity to be here tonight and to deliver some remarks on behalf of the Leader of the Opposition.
I am forced to make an open confession tonight; a confession that will explain my love for and affiliation with the sport of football and one which will best describe my passion and belief in the power of sports.
Prior to 1998 FIFA World Cup in France, I had no love for sports, although both of my uncles in Guadeloupe sponsored football teams and cycling there for over 30 years and travelled to every World Cup that they could attend. I always found a way to excuse myself whenever the Hon. Lester Bird and Guy Yearwood would start their seemingly unending discussions on cricket, football, tennis, boxing, American Football etc. This attitude changed almost overnight after I was invited by then ABFA General Secretary, Senator Chet Greene to the 1998 FIFA World Cup. It was an eye opener and a life changing moment for me and as can be seen from my association and significant investments in the football and other sports throughout the country.
In France, I saw a global movement of young people and wondered why our youth were not a part. I saw a level of organisation that challenged my creative imaginations and it all revolved around a sport popularly played here at home. From that day I committed to get involved and to spare no effort in showcasing the talents of our youth at that level.
Tonight we celebrate an historic and seminal moment in time; tonight we commemorate the achievements of our footballers; tonight we experience the unifying power of sports as we launch our national campaign, “Ready for the world.”We are encouraged by the lyrics of a local calypso sang by the Mighty Franco....... ‘yes we are ready.’ I would wish for the purpose of tonight’s celebrations to improvise and add for posterity the following lines; yes we are ready to take on the world, to take on the big names in football, whether USA or Jamaica, Mexico or Guatemala. Me say bring dem, arwe go bang dem ya!
As the theme suggests, this campaign is a national one; one involving ALL members of society and one which commands the interest, involvement and participation of ALL Antiguans and Barbudans at home and abroad.
Since the heroics of our cricketers, Sir Viv, Andy, Richie, Ambie, Baptiste and the other greats, there has not been a more remarkable or memorable moment in sports for this country. Qualifying for the next stage of the FIFA World Cup 2014 in Brazil, with the attendant opportunities both economic and sporting, requires a full and total national effort from hereon in.
As I said before the theme, ‘ready for the world’ embodies the attitude needed to overcome present economic difficulties; it represents in a real way the spirit needed by the Antiguan youth and heralds our desire to win against the odds. “Ready for the world” speaks to our acceptance of the realities of globalization but more important, our understanding that we must work together to surmount all obstacles and overcome all challenges.
The annals of history are replete with instances when the power of sport quelled wars, united warring communities or even eased national tensions. Tonight, our Benna Boys, through their efforts have given new hope to a divided country; sports, like no other human endeavor have given us an opportunity to embrace the concepts of fairness, respect, teamwork and commitment. Not only sports but in this instance football has led the way in commanding global attention to Antigua and Barbuda and in demanding the creation of a national movement rising to tackle the rest of the world.
My fervent wish tonight is that we embrace the moment, bask in the glory and pride of our Benna Boys and live the dream of unity in our country. The colour for this campaign is yellow; the rally cry is not safer with Labor or who have them: it’s Ready for the World. This national campaign knows no political, religious, economic or class boundaries; it’s not about red or blue, ALP or UPP. It’s not about Lester Bird or Baldwin Spencer. This campaign is spearheaded by the national flag and all that it represents – Red, the bloodshed by our forefathers in making today possible; Yellow, the dawn of the rising sun and in this context our emerging football stars, White for our beaches which our team will sell to the world as part of our tourism product; Blue for the sky above and our belief that God Almighty will go with our team throughout this campaign and Black, our heritage, the proud people of this small rock who with our athletic prowess are ready to showcase our sporting talents to the world in Brazil 2014.
I want the players to focus on the fact that when the team takes the field for the first game and for all of the games, whatever the outcome, for that moment in time, it will be about the team’s prowess first and foremost, but the spotlight will also be on the nation of Antigua & Barbuda, and just as we want and expect the team to rise to the challenges and the occasion, so, too, should the public.
Celebrating this moment demands that we pause to remember those who came before and who would have represented this fair land. This moment is not just for football and footballers; tonight belongs to all the men and women who have given unselfishly of their time and talent to the advancement of Antigua and Barbuda.
There are many. However, tonight as you would have heard from the MC, I am here as representative of an outstanding Antiguan, the Hon. Lester Bryant Bird who in 1962 became the first Antiguan to win a medal in international sports. Like our national football team he was committed to excellence and like the theme of tonight’s launch he too took on the world and demonstrated that size bore no relation to talent.
On his behalf, I take this opportunity to congratulate our Benna Boys and to wish them success in the upcoming matches. He has asked that I remind you of the 5P’s of sports, Proper Preparation Prevents Poor Performance and to implore you to give of your best to the nation.
As a former athlete in the Long Jump, Cricket and Football, he has asked that I convey his abiding belief in the Antiguan talent and ability and his full and unswerving support in the campaign ahead.
Tonight is a special night to remember the pioneers of local football. Names like Oscar Bird, Rupert Rugby Lake, Tixy Joshua, Keithley “KS” Sheppard, Orden “English” Nathaniel, Pin Hewlett, Robin Bascus, Danny Livingstone, St. Claire and Clarence Crump, George Piggott, Caiphas Hughes, Ivor Davis and Scout Christian just to name a few who paved the way for the celebrations of today. There are many others who contributed to the modern game like Evie Richardson, Derrick Edwards, Luther Lee, Victor Michael, Lennox Weston, Ralph Potter, Sean Deterville, Vanroy Burnes, Curtis Charles, Vivi and Mervyn Richards, Everton “Batow” Gonsalves, Veron Edwards Sr. and Jr., E.P. Chet Greene and Gordon “Banks” Derrick; they too contributed to today’s reality and we say thanks.
As we ‘ready’ ourselves ‘for the world’ I admonish those in authority to spare no effort in ensuring that the team is properly prepared, demand that government move beyond lip service and make the financial resources available and in a timely fashion. I know that the Honorable Prime Minister is an avid lover and supporter of football and I have every confidence that he will do everything in his power to ensure that the money will be forthcoming, if not all most of it. Caution the general public not to be overly critical but instead to be 100% supportive of our team and remind us all that this MUST be a truly national effort, as never before seen in our country’s history.
I now speak directly to our National Team our Benna Boys:
With all its moving targets and changing responsibilities the future is still the only place you have to go. Be serious about it. Whether you are twenty or thirty, your potential is ahead of you. If you purposefully commit yourself to continuous improvement; to getting better every day; there can be no doubt that you will grow to your full potential in the sport of football.
Just remember, each of you footballers will need to concentrate on one main goal, forget the past and focus on the future. As the old Spanish proverb says, “he, who does not look ahead, remains behind”.
I want to share with you, the words of author John Maxwell from his best seller Attitude 101:
“When you know your purpose in life and are growing to reach your maximum potential, you are well on your way to being a success. But there is one more essential part of the success journey: helping others. Without that aspect, the journey can be a lonely and shallow experience.
“It’s been said that we make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give…” So give much to your teammates.
I applaud your parents, the other members of your family, your coaches, your friends and all those who in one way or the other assisted you in the challenge of making it through to this stage of your sporting development.
Go forward, Benna Boys!! Let your oars strike hard the surface of your seas. Let the craft which bears you from destination to destination travel forward swiftly, guided by knowledge and wisdom. Let those who witness your outstanding achievements on the field of play be awed by your courage and fearlessness, generated by the certainty which comes from being a member of this great National Football team. Aim high! Strive to achieve, love your teammates, love your family, love your nation and love your God. DO NOT BE AFRAID!
In researching appropriate music for this presentation I stumbled upon a calypso classic by Paul “King Obstinate” Richards which admonishes us to believe in ourselves. Simply captioned “Believe” King Obstinate sang;
‘Believe in this land, its future is glowing
Believe in yourselves most of all as one people
Marching together in one effort and one unity
And we shall never walk with aimless feet, oh no
Not if we believe’
I believe in our team!!
Believe in our team!!
Believe in Antigua and Barbuda!!
Antigua and Barbuda Ready for the World…