Dr. Williams And Sports

Date Published: 
1981-03-31
Source: 
Trinidad Guardian

PRIME MINISTER Dr. Eric Williams, whose sudden death occurred on Sunday night, was a fine sportsman in his youth, representing Queen's Royal College at soccer and cricket. He captained the "Royalists" soccer team and played both games while at Oxford University In England.

Dr. Williams, in his book "Inward Hunger", linked the fall he suffered while playing football with the deterioration of his hearing and his eventual use of a hearing aid.

During the early part of his term of office - first as Chief Minister, then as Premier and finally as Prime Minister of the independent nation (Republic) - Dr. Williams often took time out from his busy schedule to attend local sporting events. In his last two terms, however, the Prime Minister seldom accepted Invitation to sport, although he is said to have kept in touch with both local and international sports happenings and could carry on a discussion on any of them.

SOBERS AND ATHLETICS

Dr. Williams will be remembered for the role he played when former West Indies captain Gary Sobers was being pressured by the Guyana Government for having played cricket in Rhodesia. The Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister got Sobers to apologise and sent another former Barbadian Test star, Wes Hall, to Guyana with the apology, since Sobers could not go there.

Dr. Williams also played an important role in local track and field athletics, holding a meeting with disputing officials of the now defunct AAA of Trinidad and Tobago and the National AAA, which led to the NAAA taking over national control. But the NAAA have since been riddled with controversy.

Despite the numerous calls for Government to step into local sporting squabbles - mainly in athletics, cricket, cycling and football - Dr. Williams and his People's National Movement Government steered clear of the issues, stating that it was not their policy to meddle in the internal affairs of national sporting organizations. Annual grants to national sporting clubs were maintained, with the total sum for this year (announced last month) being $1.7 million.