Sports is a vehicle that can take many communities and individuals out of poverty. This article focuses on the nexus between sport and poverty, exploring the intricate connections and examining how participation in sports, access to sporting opportunities, and the impact of sports initiatives can intersect with socio-economic challenges and contribute to addressing or exacerbating poverty issues within communities. We explore some case studies of renown sporting icons in Trinidad and Tobago who used sports as an avenue to live a very successful life and this enhanced their profile not only in their community but globally.
Cricket as a stepping stone for Brian Charles Lara
Brian Lara is one of Trinidad and Tobago most successful cricketers and is a ultimately a cricket legend across the world. He was born in 1969, in hometown Santa Cruz, Trinidad. His passion for cricket developed from a tender age and he progressed in the sport until he reached his pinnacle by playing for the West Indies from 1990 to 2007. He broke the world’s record for the highest score in a single innings in test match cricket of four hundred not out in a match played in Antigua in 2004.
Brian came from humble beginnings in a community located in Northern Trinidad called Santa Cruz. By him coming from the countryside and excelling in cricket not only was he able to uplift himself but also his community around him. Today not only is he a philanthropist but he has also established the Pearl and Bunty Lara foundation, named after his deceased parents in which he dutifully gives back to his local community to encourage other youths to see the value of sport not only as a mode for health and fitness but as a lucrative career.
For Brain, growing up in a family of eleven children was not easy. However, he decided to make sports his passion and then his career took off. Not only did sports make him a wealthy person, but he became a sporting ambassador and was able to command the respect as an icon for his country and a diplomatic passport holder which gave him the privilege to explore the world to teach and motivate others in the profession. Brian’s influence on his community in Santa Cruz has led several other young men from the community to become other sporting icons such as Dwayne and Darren Bravo instead of withering away to the ills of crime, teenage delinquency and not excelling. Today Brian Lara’s networth is approximately 60M USD which is excellent for a man coming from a third world developing county. Not only does he have endorsement deals, lucrative businesses such as restaurants and stadiums named after him but he continues to challenge for the progress of cricket as sport can empower and impact many youths not only in Trinidad and Tobago but across the world.
One of the respected Caribbean Footballers Dwight Eversley Yorke
Born in the village of Canaan in the island of Tobago, Dwight York was born into a family of eight (8) siblings to the parents of Grace and Fulton Yorke. He attended Bon Accord Government Primary school and there he developed his love for sport. After primary school he advanced to Scarborough Secondary School and Signal Hill Senior Comprehensive School. Academics was not his strong point and as a result he concentrated heavily on the sport of football. He became a household name very early in his football career. He excelled under the leadership of his teachers in school and then was spotted by his coach Bertille St. Clair who groomed him to become an excellent player. Shortly, Dwight was apart of the national football team, and he rose to captaincy of the team. Dwight York became the youngest player to play international football for Trinidad and Tobago. Seen by international coaches he was invited to do a trail at Aston Villa Club based in England.
Success continued his way and by 1989 he became a professional football player making 231 appearances and scoring 73 goals for Aston Villa. Eventually he transferred from Aston Villa to Manchester United in 1998 with a club record fee of 12.6 million pounds. Not only was Dwight happy of his success but also the community in the little island of Tobago as many young men and women were encouraged to strive for excellence in sports, while looking at Dwight Yorke as a role model and Ambassador for sports.
Over the years, Dwight Yorke has captained his country to two World Cups, the 1991 youth World Cup in Portugal and the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany. Today, Dwight Yorke is a holder of many accolades relating to sports, he has diplomatic passports and has invested not only in his island but globally.
It must be noted that Dwight Yorke remains a role model for many young men in the community of Canaan/Bon Accord where he grew up by encouraging them to become entrepreneurs and establishing small businesses of their own, supporting his alma mata with sporting equipment, and developing sports programmes in his community. He also has a sporting stadium named after him and many merchandise deals. In terms of philanthropy he has established the Dwight Yorke Foundation to give back to many less fortunate people in his local space.
The Power of Sport to Change a Society
By these two case studies, we can clearly see how sports can be beneficially in building transformed communities. Not only can sports improve physical and mental health and develop a healthy population but it can enhance education and employability, by improving cognitive skills, academic performance, and motivation. Sports can also provide pathways to scholarships, training, and jobs. It is also apparent that sports can promote social cohesion and civic engagement, by building trust, solidarity, and cooperation among people from different backgrounds, cultures, and beliefs. Sports can also encourage participation in community activities and decision-making. In many at-risked communities and developing countries, sports can prevent violence and conflict, by teaching values of respect, tolerance, and non-violence. Sports can also provide alternative outlets for aggression and frustration and create spaces for dialogue and reconciliation and give recreation to the youths while encouraging them from delinquency. Therefore, sports can be a catalyst for positive change in a community, by empowering individuals and groups, and creating opportunities for development and peace.