Partnership The defeated candidate, Stewart Stephenson, brought to the table, a number of the captains of industry, whom one could wish, expects will be in the forefront of any plans to support the sport through sponsorship. The more fashionable term in current times, is partnership. If they sign up, they must move in concert with the thinking of their shareholders. It will be no easy task to get the signature of these big boys if they are not convinced that the present JFF regime will have their concepts mirrored. Failing this, they will consider that their funds are best invested elsewhere. Interesting days lie ahead for the nation’s football and the group that wears the crown of leadership. Hopefully, they will be up to the challenge. As is being seen coming out of the London World Championships medal shortfall, Jamaicans are intolerant of failures on the field of play. It is hoped that Ricketts and his team recognise, respect and rigorously respond to this. It will be a hard road to travel and not enough time, given the constraints explained. They need to move speedily and smartly to accomplish what the nation demands. Foster’s Fairplay wishes the very best for the new leaders of Jamaica’s football. – Send feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org. The die has been cast as far as the medium term future of Jamaica’s football is concerned. The delegates have voted, and the head of the Clarendon Football Association, Michael Ricketts, will lead the charge for another two years. He is only empowered, according to the Constitution of the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF), to hold the position for that period, as that is what it will take to finish the leg of leadership started by the late Captain Horace Burrell. Burrell took the country to the pinnacle of world football by having its name among the 32 finalists who answered the call for France, 1998. This has set a template which now sees such an elevation in status as a right, to be sustained against all the odds that stand in the way. Unfortunately, football does not work that way. What should be the first order of business is the tackling of a huge debt, said to be in the region of approximately $300 million. The good news, if it can be so described, is that a substantial portion of this is owed to the Government and negotiations to reduce same should not be too much of a difficulty. Cleaning up the image of the nation’s football should be seen as a responsibility for all those who are in a position to benefit from a better look. This includes the Government, as all the national teams who are ambassadors for Brand Jamaica, when they represent the country abroad, deserve the load-shedding of some of the burden which could hamper their progress. There is, however, a major problem that could be in store for the new boss. Jamaica has already faltered in its steps towards the 2018 FIFA World Cup to be held in Moscow next year. The country will not be there, so, as Ricketts stated in pre-elections exchanges with the nation, the focus of his organisation’s initiatives will be the next staging in Qatar in 2022. Thus, the dilemma rests in the fact that last Saturday’s mandate will not carry him that far. How then can Ricketts, in his bid to impress, tackle that? As Ricketts himself has stated, Jamaica’s football is at a crossroads. Foster’s Fairplay strongly supports that view. One of the points raised constantly during the campaign is that the JFF top man is only answerable to the 13 delegates who elected him to office. Nothing could be further from the truth, and if his Federation does not deliver the goods, he will soon find out. The entire country will be yapping at his heels. Ricketts and his organisation will need the support required to achieve the nation’s ambitious aims. The private sector will be called upon to play a major part in any process to advance the level at which the sport now sits. Since he is only assured of holding the reins for the next two years, what message in support of this will he take to them?
In a country where the greedy win and the needy lose in regard to receiving scholarships, I recently rocked myself gently when I rediscovered a report — in a box in my office — that I had gathered from Guyana National Archives in 1999 but, for some reason, did not return to it.This report, labelled “British Guiana Report of the Immigration Agent General for the year 1920”, contains some amazing information about the population of British Guiana in 1920, the year that indentureship was abolished, as well as on an Indian lad named Balgobin Persad. I believe this report deserves an analysis, not only to show what was going on in British Guiana at that time, but also to support my continuous call for compensation for wrongs (denial of land, confiscation of unclaimed remittances and return passages, brutality on and beyond the plantation yards, and so on) meted out to indentured Indians.To contextualize: In 1920, the resumption of immigration from India to British Guiana was still in the future, since deputations of three sound persons were coming to the colony to investigate the conditions and report back to the Government of India. These individuals were: Diwan Bahadur Kesava Pillai, Deputy President of Madras Legislative Council; G.F Keatinge, Director of Agriculture, Bombay; and Venkatesa Narayan Tewary, of the Servants of Indian Society. Meanwhile, about 270 immigrants who had served indenture elsewhere — like in Natal, South Africa — landed in the colony, while 1,782 Indians arrived from India, paying their own passage, and 1,485 departed. Among the latter group or returnees, there were 60 paupers and 50 lepers, revealing the underbelly of the indenture system, which strangely continues to be a closet secret in Guyana. The Indian population in 1920 was 124,546 out of an estimated 300,000 total population of the colony. An estimated half of the Indian population was still residing on the estates, indicating that a majority of these Indians gave up their return passages for a piece of land to stay in British Guiana, but never received land.Put bluntly, they paid for land but never received any. They remained on the former indentured yards, paying for basic housing and other amenities.What also seems interesting to me is the educational status of Indian children, since the perception – real or imagined — was that Indian children did not attend school because (1) they were used to work in fields to bring in supplementary income; (2) Indian girls stayed away from school to learn domestic chores, so that they would be prepared to meet or find suitable Indian husbands through arranged marriages; (3) the school system was too westernized and inconsistent with Indian customs and values; (4) Indians saw no ideal reason to send their children to school in British Guiana, since they had intention of returning to India. Nonetheless, in 1920, of the 8,484 registered Indian children attending schools, 4,144 were in Preparatory; 2,412 in Lower; 1,439 in Middle; and 489 in Upper. Daily attendance was 4,532. This attendance was low, and got invariably lower as the level of education in the colony climbed. My maternal grandmother, who was born at No. 67 Village, Corentyne in British Guiana in 1902, never attended school.Out of this dismal educational reality of Indians, Balagobin Persad caught my attention. His father, Bani Thakur, was an indentured labourer who arrived in British Guiana in 1884 and was indentured to Plantation Enmore as No. 19,459, The Bruce 1884. He was nineteen years old. Thakur eventually became a small shopkeeper at Golden Grove Village, East Coast Demerara. His mother Bifwah (one name given) was born in the colony and was given the No. 462 with a Birth Register 1870, which I think was the year she was born. This means that she was fourteen years older than her husband Thakur, which is an analysis for another column.Balgobin Persad was born on November 19, 1898, and was given the No. 1416 at Plantation Enmore. I am not sure if he ever worked on the plantation. In 1910, at age of twelve, Persad won the Primary School Scholarship and entered the Queen’s College. In 1916, at the age of eighteen, he won the Guiana Scholarship and entered University of Cambridge. I do not have any more information on this young man, but would like to know whatever happened to him, particularly since he was one of those early models of Indian educational success who were born in the lowest end of the plantation system. Unfortunately, his experience has been drowned out by names such as the Luckhoos and the like. I suspect this young man studied at night using an oil-wick bottle lamp, blocking the breeze with one hand and turning the pages with the other. Balgobin Persad’s story forces me to make this conclusion. I am convinced that minor histories have not failed to meet the significance of history, nor have minor histories been buried in the depths of major eventful history. Instead, minor histories are waiting to be discovered and be told. (email@example.com)