THERE was much love for President Anthony Carmona and Prime Minister Kamla Persad- Bissessar when they visited Laventille yesterday to participate in the prize distribution ceremony in the Government-sponsored $M Hoop of Life Basketball tourney.
The Prime Minister hailed the Laventille community for backing its team which won the competition.
She challenged the Laventille team to do the double in the 2013/2014 edition of the competition which would see an increase in the first prize of $1 million to $1.5 million.
Minister of National Security Jack Warner hosted the event at St Barbs Basketball Court, Laventille, which was also addressed by Sports Minister Anil Roberts.
In her feature address, Persad-Bissessar cited protocol to say President Carmona would not give a direct address but would rely on her to deliver his greetings. She quoted President Carmona’s greetings, “I wish that you live this moment of success, every day of your life, Laventille”.
This sentiment echoed Carmona’s inauguration speech three days before when he lamented that “the man-child is in crisis” and urged interventions to stop the cycle of revenge killings in certain communities.
In her own remarks, Persad-Bissessar said the programme had cost $12 million — money she added, which was well spent. “I am just beaming with pride. I feel so proud of you as you come to receive your awards,” she told the players of the top teams of the league.
Persad-Bissessar said the league had shown that persons could safely visit each others communities, saying residents of areas such as Beetham and Caledonia had ensured the safety of visiting teams.
She noted that all players in the league had complied with the conditions that they live law- abiding lives, hailing this as a “100 percent success.” She said while US basketball star Shaquille O’Neal couldn’t make it in time for yesterday’s ceremony, he would be very proud of the outcome of the competition. O’Neal last year visited TT to help launch the programme.
“The winners have made proud every son, daughter, father, mother and sister who hail from the Laventille Hills,” she said. “You fought hard on the basketball courts, you stood tall for Laventille and you have brought untold pride to your community,” she effused.
“I call on the people of Laventille to continue this unity.” Saying any warring in Laventille hurts national development, Persad-Bissessar added, “Let there be a fresh start to a new destiny of peace.”
Roberts said the competition had involved 1,980 young men, whose efforts had helped bring back family-life and community-life to Trinidad and Tobago.
He was glad for the very fact that all players had stayed alive.
Roberts promised to soon introduce a national windball cricket and netball league, vowing, “We’ll not give up!”. He hailed all who had helped the players, such as aunties who had made sorrel juice, or those who had tended to their uniforms.
The Government would never give up on people, said Roberts, but give them a second, third or fourth chance.