– By Petamber Persaud
For over 100 years cricket has and is been played in Guyana, going on to become the dominant sport and eventually the national sport of this country. Over the years, this national sport has elicited tons and tons of debate, dialogue and dissertation. But little of that oral engagement has been captured on the printed page in book form. For over one hundred years, the only tangible evidence we can meekly boast of are about six titles on cricket in Guyana produced by Guyanese.
So Living my Dreams by Joseph ‘Reds’ Perreira is a welcomed addition to this meagre list of books on cricket in Guyana. Let me hasten to dispel any notion that this book is only about cricket; it is mainly on cricket but it also focuses on many other sport disciplines like football, horse racing, volleyball, basketball, boxing and sports organising.
Living My Dreams is action-packed and fast-paced, but at times it slows down to elucidate in minute details aspects of sport that warrant such treatment. This book is educational, inspirational and entertaining. It has all the qualities of a good read.
Living My Dreams tells the story of the life of Joseph ‘Reds’ Perreira, from his formative years in the little known village of Pomeroon on the Essequibo River to the top of his game as a sports (mainly cricket) commentator traversing the world where cricket had become his saving grace on many occasions.
It was not an easy road to the top but it was engaging and challenging and triumphant. All of that is captured in the book – overcoming a serious stammer to become a well known commentator, overcoming ailments with cricket coming to his rescue, overcoming a discriminatory ban and many years later legally challenging and clearing his name, overcoming and triumphing.
The book paints a picture of Perreira’s persistency throughout his long career as a player of various sport disciplines, sportscaster, and sports organiser.
With reference to his career as a sports organiser, Perreira said that ‘if I have saved a few lives in my time, I am happy’. Therein lies the true mettle of the man – his concern for people and how they may improve their social standing through sports. In his own words, this is how Perreira saw his involvement in sport, ‘My focus was seeing people becoming better people …If they become a better player, that’s good but to me producing a better citizen is the important thing’.
The book, as with autobiographies and memoirs, starts from the beginning and runs chronologically to present day: Life in the Pomeroon without electricity and where everything was done under mosquito nets after dark; life in the harsh Charlestown ward; the world of work where he managed to eke out time to engage in sport; forming the first ‘dream team’; his first break as a commentator; his first assignment away from home; meeting the greats in the game and working alongside the greats in the business of broadcasting.
He gave credit to his mother who allowed him to fantasise – ‘she allowed me to stay in bed and do imaginary commentary on cricket – Kanhai batting, Sobers bowling, and boxing from Madison Square Garden, and England versus Brazil at Wembley which sort of helped me use words that I would not normally encounter in the normal run of things’.
Importantly, it tells how he met his match in the game of cricket marrying Zandra De Florimonte who was involved in cricket as an on-air personality, a producer and scorer at first class and regional matches. This new team plans ‘to give our daughter Kimberley the best life’.
And very insightful are the appendices tabulated under: ‘The Reds Perreira Sport Foundation’, ‘For the love of the Game: Commentators who made a difference’, ‘Those who might have played’, ‘Captain Hooper’s demise’ and ‘Letters of Testimonial’.
And some of his dreams to realise in the future: to lobby for the restoration of the home of Rohan Kanhai and make it into a tourist attraction, to rename the Blairmont ground the Roy Fredericks ground in order ‘to send strong messages, to inspire the young… don’t give up, don’t be sidetracked, don’t give up your dreams, keep fighting, don’t waste your life with negative things’.
Living My Dreams could be read as a cricketing manual or handbook fleshed out from a personal standpoint of a person who witnessed it all from a vantage point.
Responses to this author telephone (592) 226-0065 or email: oraltradition2002@ yahoo.com
• The Guyana Annual 2010 issue is now available at Guyenterprise Ltd. on Lance Gibbs and Irving Streets, Queenstown.
• The new closing date for the Ministry of Culture, Youth & Sport literary competition for schools is July 9, 2010. Please contact me for more information. This competition includes three follow-up components via a writers’ workshop using entries submitted, performances of shortlisted entries and a publication of the outstanding works. Entries can be mailed to me in care of the Ministry of Culture, Youth & Sport or dropped in a box provided in the ministry’s security hut.
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