August 15 marked ten years since the death of iconic artist Ian Ali, a man who made a pioneering contribution to Trinidad and Tobago’s local landscape through art and television.
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Nigel Camacho Cricket super fan
As with his dentistry practice, he dedicates his life to helping (and entertaining) others. As a well known dental practitioner for the past 25 years and one of the chief cook and bottle washers of the world famous Trini Posse group, Nigel Camacho, cricket super fan, recently teamed up with the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) and the West Indies Players Association (WIPA) to form and launch the much needed West Indies Retired Players Foundation (WIRPF). As with many of our ex-players and entertainers, there is usually no mechanism in place, especially for those from previous eras when professional sportsmen and women and entertainers were not as well paid as many are today. Camacho has sat on the T&T Cricket Board (TTCB) from 1995-1999, has been a director of the Sir Frank Worrell Committee since 2006 and has been a member of the management committee of the Queen’s Park Cricket Club since 2000. Wearing his hat as a dentist, he is the president of the T&T Dental Association, a position he has held since 2009, sits on the St Clair Medical Centre’s board of directors since 1999, and is a founding director of the Cancer Treatment Foundation since 2007.
What inspired you to take up the cause of the retired West Indies cricket players?
Having benefitted so much in my own life from the successes of West Indies cricket, I hope that I am able to give back something in any way I can to my heroes who have given me and many other West Indians so much. My good friend Gordon Greenidge had challenged me to make it happen, and I have taken this up as a call to action in a most positive way.
In what ways will the WIRPF help the retired greats of Windies cricket, many of whom lament that they have been ignored by the WICB?
We intend to help former players in two ways: Firstly, to get these former players more involved in West Indies cricket. Secondly, to assist former players, in any way we can, who have run into hardships or difficulties…areas such as health benefits, insurance, financial and coaching certification. One of our main goals is to try and bridge the divide that exists between our ex-players and the West Indies Cricket Board. Not being naive and understanding that some of these scars run deep by engaging the players themselves through their own West Indian Players Association, we can begin the process of so doing. We hope to maximise the fundraising capacity of former players through benefit events in all of the territories in the region, as well as in cricket playing countries throughout the world.
In addition, we are hoping to reach out to the diaspora in both North America and Europe, who would cherish the opportunity to hear from some past legends and actually rub shoulders with these ambassadors of their West Indian heritage. We also hope to assist players in getting the best possible healthcare opportunities available. It is hoped by bridging the gap between the former players and the various territorial boards we can set up the opportunities to have our former players more actively involved in our own West Indian cricket development. We also plan to recognise and celebrate milestones of our former legends of the game. Finally, we intend to provide bursaries and scholarships in the names of former players to help aspiring cricketers.
You have been to many countries to support the West Indies cricket team, which countries have you been to in doing so? I have been to every test venue in the Caribbean (Guyana, Barbados, Grenada, St Vincent, Dominica, St Kitts, Antigua, St Lucia and Jamaica) to support the West Indies over the past 20 years. I have only been to England and the USA outside of the region to support the West Indies.
Where did you grow up?
Born here but as my dad worked at Hilton, I spent most of the first years of my life in Jamaica, then St Thomas and Puerto Rico. From the age of four, I lived and grew up in Maraval.
What do you rate as your satisfying and memorable occasions in West Indies cricket?
Listening to the West Indies win the first Prudential World Cup in 1975 and then repeating in 1979. Following the magnificent West Indies tour of England in 1976, a tour in which we annihilated England and Viv Richards made two amazing double centuries, and Michael Holding took 14 wickets in a match. Following the all conquering Windies team throughout the 1980s. Watching Gordon Greenidge’s amazing double century against Australia in 1991. Following Brian Lara’s entire career from his 277 in Sydney to his two amazing world records in Test cricket in 1994 and 2004. Cricket was always at the centre of my life. Going to Lord’s with my mother in 2012 to watch the West Indies play England also ranks very high up there.
Although West Indies eventually lost the match, the entire experience with my mother who inspired me to love this great game called cricket was unforgettable.
How did the Trini Posse get started?
At Trinity College in Canada, I met Fred Nadur from Barbados, without whose friendship I honestly believe that the Trini Posse would never have happened. He was instrumental in ensuring all was organised at Kensington Oval, Barbados, when a small group of us went to support the West Indies in 1991. We had such a great time that in 1992 we organised a lot bigger group, some 40 of us, to witness the historic boycotted Test match between South Africa and the West Indies. While the boycott by the fans took place, the next day the Bajan newspapers trumpeted that had it not been for the Trini Posse, the ground would have been empty…and that was how we got the name! The Trini Posse is a great hobby of mine. The main challenge was the loss of one of my best friends in the world, Sean Grosvenor, and also Bryan Seenath, another inspiration in my life. Both were co-founders. I honestly believe Sean, better known as 'Gruff', was instrumental in us making Trini Posse a reality.
What advice would you give to someone contemplating a vocation/career such as yours?
Dentistry is an amazing profession. Although in the very demanding medical field and requiring total dedication at school and after graduation, it still affords you great flexibility in your hours, allowing one to do things like watch cricket and make an honest living.
Who are the people who influenced and inspired you the most, in your career and in life in general?
My greatest inspiration in my life has been my parents. My mom, besides introducing me to cricket, her dedication and love led my brother and myself to believe nothing is impossible in life once you put in the hard work, have faith in God, and try to be the best you can always be at all times. My current soul mate Shivan has also inspired me to continue to chase my dreams, she is an amazing partner to me.
My first cricket coach at Fatima, Harry Ramdass, played a critical role in my early development and was instrumental in giving me confidence to feel I could achieve anything I set out to do in my life. Also important in my days at Fatima was my principal Clive Pantin who taught me about integrity, honour, as well as spiritual belief. I was fortunate to be amongst many good people during my formative years, however the most important were my grandmothers, my great grandmother, my great aunt Sally and our family’s caregiver, Theresa (who was also a big cricket fan). In dentistry my initial inspiration came from Dr Max Sobrian, a fantastic dentist and a good man, who gave me my start in T&T. The sportsman who inspired and influenced me most in my early years was none other than the great Viv Richards.
What schools/institutions did you attend—primary, secondary and tertiary?
I attended Holy Name Prep School opposite Memorial Park. I later attended Fatima College before going away to school. After leaving Fatima, I went to boarding school in Canada, Trinity College to do grade 13. After leaving TCS, I attended the University of Western Ontario in London, Ontario, to get a BSc in natural sciences. I went to dental school at Case Western University in Cleveland, Ohio. After graduating from dental school, I did a post graduate degree in hospital dentistry and general practice residency at the University of Alabama, Birmingham, Alabama.
What advice would you give to the young people of T&T?
Cherish your family, apply yourself in school, play sport, get an education, and always keep God in your life.
What motto do you live by and what is your recipe for success?
Work hard, play hard, always try to do your best, and above all always try to play by the rules.
Who was your hero growing up and why?
Viv Richards, without a doubt, he was a 'gladiator' in the world of cricket. He always maintained a swagger, he intimidated his opponents to make them feel he was always in control. His batting was breathtaking and inspirational.
Who/what inspired you to become a dentist?
After talking to Dr Paul Fagenbaum at 13 years old (he sutured my lip after a cricket accident at Fatima), I told my great grandmother that I would one day be a dentist. I was so convinced of it, that in Form Three at career guidance day, I told my dean I already knew what I was going to be...a dentist. My only regret; my great grandmother died before I graduated in 1989.
How did you become hooked on cricket?
My mother, and caregiver Theresa, every radio in the house was always tuned in to cricket, always. However, my great uncle Noble Marquez took his son Theron and myself to my first Test match at the Queen’s Park Oval in 1971, in the now demolished Sir Errol Dos Santos stand. Growing up in Ellerslie Park, Maraval, we would play cricket every day of the holidays; Theron, my brother Chris and the Sabga boys. So cricket just became and remains a special part of my life. I still play the occasional game when the spirit moves me.
Which famous cricket legend have you had the privilege of discussing cricket at length to gain some insights into your beloved sport?
It would be Clive Lloyd to find out what he did to inspire the West Indies to rise to world dominance in the 80s and 90s. I had that opportunity last year, while having lunch with him at the Queen's Park Oval. My big question being: Why can’t we replicate that success today? I might share his answer to me one day if given the opportunity.