The Covid-19 pandemic might have stopped club cricket from being played in Trinidad and Tobago, but the Past Cricketers Society is still going strong and will be hosting a fundraising initiative today in aid of fellow former cricketers who have fallen on tough times.
Speaking to the Express yesterday, member of the society, Lester Cassimy, said they will be raising funds to help former players Ron Faria, Leo John and Charlie Davis as well as many others.
Part of their plan is to raise funds to aid in medical expenses for the aging cricketers as well use their connections to help the past stalwarts of the game in whatever way they can.
The fundraising lunch planned for today at the Queen’s Park Oval runs from 11.30 a.m. to 2.30 p.m. and will see patrons driving into the facility, collecting their lunches and driving back out to minimise contact between persons and to ensure all Covid-19 protocols are adhered to.
The Society, chaired by former T&T captain Justice Prakash Moosai, will also be donating lunches to Living Waters and other groups and persons in need.
“We recognise that a lot of the guys we played against are coming down with a lot of things. So, we are looking after past cricketers who have played serious cricket,” Cassimy explained.
He revealed that Charlie Davis, who he described as “a fighter and still fighting” has been in and out of hospital and is faced with mounting medical expenses while Leo John is recovering from a stroke.
“We will be getting a wheelchair for him (John) and we have somebody in the US by the name of Terry Mills, who is sending down a special wheelchair and an ordinary wheelchair. He comes to our function every year but obviously we could not have a function last year but last year,” Cassimy noted.
He described John as “totally fearless” as he related a story of the top-order batsman coming up against fearsome West Indies fast bowler Charlie Griffith in Barbados.
“Everybody was afraid of Charlie, but Leo John was a fearless cricketer and when we went out to play Barbados and he was facing Charlie Griffith, he said, “That’s all boy...slow bowler”, and Richard De Souza and Alvin Corneal and these guys would tell him not to provoke Griffith.
“But that is the kind of man he is. He is now 87 years old. He was strong and totally unorthodox but had good eyesight. He was totally fearless, even when the odds were against him, he would make you believe it could be done,” Cassimy reminisced.
“Terry Mills has always been supportive and now he is taking it to another level, and he is sending these things down to make sure that our T&T guys who have contributed will be able to benefit. We are extremely happy for Terry Mills,” he added.
As for today’s event, Cassimy estimated that over 1,300 tickets have been sold.
“We have an arrangement with a place called the Roti Factory in El Socorro and they are delivering from 11.30 a.m. to officially 2.30 p.m. at the Oval. We have already done the ticketing but of course if someone comes in, we will not say no. We expect people to the bottom part of Elizabeth Street and drive in and stay in your car give your ticket, collect your meal and drive back out,” he said.
Apart from raising funds, Cassimy noted that the society also gives back by using its connections to help. He revealed Mills’ willingness to give back and also announced that Dr Arun Narinesingh from Medical Associates is also stepping up to lend a hand.
“Dr Narinesingh has asked us to send the past cricketers to his hospital in St Joseph where they are going to be subsidising the cost of medicals for the guys we are looking after. People are excited and we have been doing this for six or seven years, raising funds and honouring past cricketers and administrators but we can’t do that this year. Guardian has been helping, Sagicor has been helping, and if we have extra food, we will be giving it out for the poor,” Cassimy revealed.
Regarding Ron Faria, Cassimy said the former T&T cricketer was also hospitalised recently and that the society intends on helping “anybody and everybody”.
“We did it for Prince Bartholomew and Rangy Nanan and there are other persons we arranged to have them go to specialists and it is not just raising funds, we use our contacts to make sure these people are taken care of because they have contributed a lot to Trinidad and Tobago,” he concluded.