Former West Indies leg-spinner Samuel Badree in a brilliant address to students of Naparima College at their 2019 Graduation ceremony Saturday last in San Fernando took them through his struggles in life and to his eventual position of triumph.
As the player turned commentator spoke, the students were glued to his delivery. “Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great ones make you feel that you, too, can become great.”
Badree was invited to deliver the feature address by principal Dr. Michael Dowlath who was always leaned to the holistic development of the students at the school.
Badree continued: “Who I am today, is as a direct result of the impact that this noble institution has had on my life. Mr. Carl Sammy who was my first form teacher here has had a tremendous impact on my life. During my first term in form one, he identified that I came from a very humble background, and that is just a euphemism because in truth and in fact I came from abject poverty. As a little boy, I was very ashamed to receive that hamper and for my teacher to see where I lived, in a wooden, dilapidated house. I sometimes hid when I saw them out of embarrassment, but the moment they left I was the first one to open the bags to see what was brought. As a family, we were grateful for that hamper as it went a long way in making Christmas a little bit happier, a little bit merrier. Those actions of Mr. Sammy so many years ago left an indelible mark in my mind and sparked not only the determination to be successful at whatever I did but also a responsibility to those like myself who need acts of kindness and generosity to achieve their full potential.
“All of my textbooks had the NCOB written in the inside cover because they were given to me by the Naparima College Old Boys Association. I must also mention Miss Sushilla Maraj, Miss Jaikaransingh, Miss Honore, the late Mr. Roy Jagroopsingh, Miss Esther Alexander, Mr. Kamal Maharaj and Mr. Nazim Mohammed for their immense kindness and compassion to a poor country kid and for the inspiration they were to me.
“I was faced with many obstacles but we must all find a way to overcome these. I grew up in a large family of seven siblings, eight of us, including myself. I attended Rochard Douglas Presbyterian Primary School. My father died when I was quite young, so the mantle of responsibility fell squarely on my mother, my mother who did an excellent job with very scarce resources. My mother was a school vendor and the little money she made after buying things to sell the next day, was used for me to commute to school. I was the last child and my mother insisted that I had a good education; in fact, she tried her best with all of her children. She inculcated in us the value of having a good education and of course good morals and values as she ensured we went to church as well.”
Badree brought many to near tears when he mentioned: “When my friends went to the cafeteria during recess to buy snacks, I stayed in class and pretended I was finishing my homework. I knew then that the avenue to changing my economic situation, and indeed that of my family, was by getting a good education. So I made the most of my opportunity in secondary school and ensured that at the end of my time there, I had something to show for it. I also followed my passion, cricket, with great commitment and tenacity with the hope of one day making it to the national team.
“Time management was the greatest challenge for me because I missed school regularly because of practice and games but I ensured that during my free time I made up for the lost time. When my friends were hanging out, I kept abreast of my work and even during matches; I carried my books with me. I believed that anything was possible.
“I say to you graduates, there are no boundaries to what you can achieve, there are no limits to your potential. It does not matter how rich or poor you are, it does not matter where you are from, what school you go to, it does not matter what type of car your parents drive, what cell phone you have, it does not matter if you have the latest iPad or iPod or laptop. What really matters graduates, is your willingness to work hard, your discipline, your respect, your determination, courage, persistence, and honesty. These are the values that would lead you to be successful.”