Honouring Successful Grenadian Athletes And Business Entrepreneurs

Lincoln Alden DePradine (Snatch-it)

By Lincoln Depradine

Late last year, the OECS Media Network on Health held an awards’ ceremony at the Grenada Trade Centre in Morne Rouge, St George’s.

As part of the ceremony, an award was presented posthumously to Errol Maitland. It was accepted on his behalf by daughter, Crystal Maitland.

The late Errol Maitland, who was inducted into the OECS Media Hall of Fame at the ceremony, was founder of Moving Target Company, corporate owner of Grenada InformerMTV television and Voice of Grenada (Magic 103) radio.

We frequently hear calls for young Grenadians to be more entrepreneurial, yet we do not celebrate those who have been successful pioneers. Now and again, there is a Royston Hopkin who would receive a knighthood from Queen Elizabeth; or, an award is bestowed on someone by a regional or international organization.

Beyond that, there is no national award; notwithstanding that a businessman or woman sometimes is included in the group of people honoured at the annual Independence Day ceremony.

But, as a rule, our homegrown and successful entrepreneurs are often overlooked as worthy of special recognition. And, especially, if they are not guys who are fond of suit and tie, or are ostentatious about the success. Errol Maitland was one of those types of people.

Early on, Maitland demonstrated a knack for business savvy. When young fellars went to athletic meets and horse racing at Queen’s Park to spend money, he went there to make it. He had a pool of bicycles and a customer paid a small fee to earn the right to a ride. That’s how many learnt to ride a bicycle.

Over the years, Maitland’s investment interest grew and he added to his business portfolio, including acquisition of the former Regal Cinema in Paddock, St George’s.

His success — as a born and bred Grenadian entrepreneur — is immense. I can identify other Grenadians who are or were similarly successful; for example, Chasley David and the late Mama Aird and Joe Pitt.

Apart from being successful business people, one other thing they all have had in common is humility; never ones seeking to show off.

It, perhaps, accounts for why they have been overlooked for national recognition.

Chasley David, who will be 91 in two months, has brought a Midas touch to his investment in the service industry — car rental, insurance and tourism hospitality.

David recalls, as a youth, walking to and from primary school and to the Grenada Boys Secondary School.

After working in the private sector for more than 20 years, he left to start his own business.

He initiated the opening of an office in Grenada of GTM — the Guyana & Trinidad Mutual Fire & Life Insurance Company.

He headed the GTM operations in Grenada for 25 years as David Agency Limited.

David and his late wife, Marcella, jointly established South Winds Cottages in Grand Anse.

The generosity of two in providing transportation service and board and lodging — gratis — is also legendary.

I’m certain there are many other local entrepreneurs like Chasley David, Errol Maitland, Joe Pitt and Mama Aird deserving of national recognition. Let’s do it and make them role models for our young, aspiring businessmen and women.

While we are on the issue of recognition, it is customary around this time of the year for the Grenada Olympic Committee (GOC) to host the annual Sportsman and Sportswoman awards. The Beacon Insurance-sponsored awards’ ceremony will be held 1 February.

It’s one of the better organized events on the local calendar. But, with most things, it must evolve and there is always room for improvement.

Among the things I’d like to suggest is that the GOC raises the bar by insisting that all award entries are accompanied by video clips of an athlete’s performance.

Almost all our national sporting organizations, for one reason or another, are inadequate in the important area of documentation and record keeping.

A GOC stipulation that national sports award submissions must be accompanied by video footage might be challenging for some initially.

Ultimately, however, all will get used to the idea of recording their athletes’ performances. Perhaps, it would require a sharing of resources and equipment among associations.

But, it’s to the benefit of associations to improve their recording keeping and archiving, especially if they intend to seek more overseas university scholarships for athletes or international professional contracts.

I also believe that the GOC could achieve an even crisper program if, after honouring the best athlete in each sport, it proceeds to choosing the Sportsman and Sportswoman of the Year from among those with a genuine and genuine, realistic chance of copping those awards; perhaps, by having the Sportsman and Sportswoman of the Year (International) and the Sportsman and Sportswoman of the Year (Local).

There is no way should an athlete competing locally only be able to beat an athlete who competes at the highest level of his/her discipline internationally.

Only a few hundred people in a world of more than one billion ever make it to compete on a world stage. And, even if you come last internationally — say at the Olympics, World Champions or Commonwealth Games – it’s an achievement that’s more than worthy of a country’s national award.

In my view, swimmer Ore Cherebin or a cricketer like Devon Smith — that is, when he is batting well for the West Indies — certainly is ahead of the pack for the coveted national sports award over a brilliant athlete, whose competition is just at home at locally organized events or at games in the Windward Islands.

Lincoln Alden DePradine (Snatch-it)
Lincoln Alden DePradine (Snatch-it)

The GOC, as well, must invite sportswriters and broadcasters to submit nominees for awards. It’s mindboggling that topflight athletes, such as a Mark Felix or a Lottysha Cato, are unable to make it to the shortlist of contenders for the titles of sportsman and sportswoman of the year.

The GOC also may want to consider an “Olympic Committee Award’’ to an athlete who would have excelled in his or her sporting discipline, but was overlooked by a national association as the nominee.

Think about it Veda Bruno-Victor, Royston LaHee and the rest of GOC. And, congratulations to the winners and all the athletes attending next month’s awards’ ceremony. Your efforts, dedication and sacrifice are appreciated.

By the way, for those who have enquired, Lincoln Alden Depradine — the 75-year-old former Grenada national footballer who died recently in Montreal — was my cousin.

Snatch-it, as he was affectionately called, was a phenomenon striker who, in one particular season, reportedly scored as many as 100 goals playing in various local competitions.

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