Brian Lara, former West Indies Cricket captain has warned that without “the skills and resources necessary to succeed, some young people will turn to crime as a means of survival,” as he lamented the upsurge in murders in Trinidad and Tobago.
The twin-island republic has recorded more than 200 murders since the start of this year, following the record 603 murders last year.
He said that, “encouraging and investing in sports programs can help channel the energy and passion of young people into something positive, while also providing opportunities for personal growth and development. It’s important for all members of society to come together to address this issue and work towards creating a safer and more prosperous future for Trinidad and Tobago.”
Lara was giving a statement from India where he currently serves as the head coach for the Sunrisers Hyderabad in the Indian Premier League (IPL).
He said, “I was in complete shock and dismay after watching video footage in which a childhood friend got killed whilst sitting watching basketball at a local bar in Cantaro, the once sleepy village I grew up in. There is more to the video I rather not mention, but it pains me to see what was once the most beautiful village with cocoa and orange estates lining its outskirts, crumble under the burden of crime and relentless violence”.
“Like every kid back in the day, I helped myself to all the hanging fruits available, ignoring ‘No Trespassing’ signs to the detriment of my butt whenever my dad found out, but that was as far as it got,” he added.
He said that years ago, “We were in awe of all the greats representing us on the international stage, like Sir Viv Richards, Sir Gordon Greenidge, Claude Noel, Hasely Crawford. Culture and beauty were also creating waves [with] the likes of the late Bob Marley, Sparrow, the late Kitchener and, of course, our beautiful Penny Commission”.
The cricketing legend said growing up was fun and that “most of the positive news we got via transistor radios stuck to our ears as one of our people from the Atlantic Archipelago achieved greatness”.
Youth involved in crime
Lara expressed that Trinidad and Tobago, like many other countries, faces challenges with youth involvement in crime and that the issue of youth crime has been a concern for many years and is driven by a range of complex social, economic, and cultural factors.
“Young people from low-income families may feel pressure to engage in criminal activities to earn money or support their families. This invariably leads to involvement in drug trafficking, gang activity, and other criminal behaviour.
“Yes, I understand, but still I look back with a vivid memory of my first indulgence, stealing cocoa and oranges and quiver at the consequences if I was found out. I had such big dreams that these small misdemeanours were quickly brushed aside because of my steadfast focus on my commitment to become someone my village and country would be proud of…the next Hasely Crawford of cricket,” Lara said.
He said another factor is the breakdown of family structures, which can lead to a lack of guidance and supervision for young people.
“The absence of parental figures or positive role models can leave young people vulnerable to negative influences and peer pressure, which can lead to criminal behaviour. I was blessed with two wonderful parents…who kept all eleven of us in line and motivated to make something of our lives.
“I don’t think there is a parent that wants a life of crime for their kids but if you don’t pay attention to your offspring, someone will happily do so for you,” he added.
Lara said the availability of guns was also a major situation in the crime situation here and “has become a symbol of power and status among some young people”. He added that understanding the root causes of crime is important to addressing them.
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