This year’s murder toll has now surpassed last year’s figure and is expected to continue its trend after another bloody weekend.
Former T&T hockey team captain Joycelyn Francois-Opadeyi holds the reins as leader of the T&T Women’s Cricket Association (TTWCA). Women’s cricket is now one of the fastest growing sport. The all-round sporting personality was also appointed to manage the T&T U-17 women’s football team in its World Cup qualifier games in Guatemala in 2011, bringing a wealth of experience as athlete and manager to the TTFF. Francois-Opadeyi’s day job sees her as a chartered accountant and business development consultant with her own company, Jade Accounting Services.
Where were you born, and where did you grow up?
Monte Grande, Tunapuna. I left Tunapuna at age five to live in Jerningham Junction, Cunupia, where I stayed until I got married.
What schools/institutions did you attend/achieve your qualifications?
Cunupia Government School, St Augustine Girls’ High School; B Sc (Hons) Mgt; ACCA, MBA, Executive MBA-UWI/Institute of Business (Finance & Entrepreneurship); Fellow of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (FCCA); B Sc Industrial Management-UWI, St Augustine.
What do you rate as the most satisfying and memorable occasions?
Achieving the principal’s prize for the Best All-round Student in 1981; completing my first degree in management at the UWI as a single parent having to work, study and raise a baby—this has been the springboard/motivation for all my other achievements; becoming a street pastor in the Tunapuna area, an extremely fulfilling experience.
What advice would you give to someone contemplating a vocation/career such as yours?
Have a vision for yourself. “You can, yes you!” Apply commitment and dedication in all you do.
When and how did you get into hockey?
In Form 1 at St Augustine Girls’ High School through the encouragement and motivation of Carol Wynn-Whiteman, a Form Three student, who was dedicated and committed to sporting and academic excellence. She was my mentor throughout my hockey career.
When and how did you get into cricket administration? One would have thought that it would be hockey administration?
My friend and colleague Mrs Ann Browne-John played both hockey and cricket, and when I retired from hockey playing, I was invited in my capacity as a finance professional to assist with managing the then scarce finances of the women’s cricket board.
What are a couple of your most memorable performances on the field of play?
No particular memorable performance. I took my game very seriously (maybe a little too seriously, my friends would say). I enjoyed every game I played. It was an opportunity to win…self actualise. I love to win!
What inspires you to do what you do?
The strong desire to make a difference in the lives of young women. To give them a vision of what they can achieve. I benefitted through the commitment of my predecessors, and I want to share my experiences and to help open up opportunities for other young women.
What are some of the challenges you face in your cricket administration role?
Mainly a lack of funding for women sport and low spectator support.
How do you plan to overcome them?
By encouraging our players to set high standards, perform, and to be at their best at all times. They are the key ambassadors of the sport. Represent and reinforce the values of our association—with each other and external stakeholders. And finally, demonstrate honesty and integrity in all our administrative affairs, and the general operations of the association.
What are some upcoming events and contact info?
The opening of the local women’s cricket season this month. TTWCA Secretary Monica Hylton—780-7799.
Who are the people who influenced and inspired you the most, in your career and in life in general?
There were quite a few:
1. My cheerleaders, my dad and mom—Mr Henry Francois (painter) and Mrs Martina Francois (housewife).
2. My mentor and “mom,” Dr Pearl Glasgow, evangelist and author.
3. My ministering angel, Ms Janet Smith, reverend and poet.
4. My stern adviser and conscience at a critical time in my life, Mr Carl Parris, former dean Social Sciences, The University of the West Indies, St Augustine.
5. My adviser, guide and priceless friend, Mr Osborne Nurse, management consultant.
How many games did you play for T&T in hockey?
Quite a few, over 50.
Who do you consider a sporting hero?
Hasely Crawford, T&T’s 1976 Montreal Olympic Medallist.
Describe yourself in three words, one beginning with J the others with F and O, your initials.
Joyful, Fearless, Obliging.
Representing T&T, which countries did you compete in? As a T&T cricket official, which countries have you been to?
Mexico, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Jamaica, Barbados.
Of all your accolades, prizes and awards, which do you rate as extremely special?
That I have had the courage to nurture a qualified, self-employed daughter who is loving, fearless, entrepreneurial, customer sensitive, warm, and an awesome boss! Priceless.
What is your management philosophy?
Non-dictatorial, yet decisive—I encourage collaboration in decision making. I believe that everyone has something positive to contribute to the growth and development of our organisation. Sometimes that positive gem is buried beneath a deep fear of failure and is, therefore, masked by attitudes of arrogance, bravado. By listening intently to others, I am able to discern insecurities. I believe my role is to guide people on my team to discover their abilities, and to operate from a position of genuine humility and strength.
What is your vision for women cricket in T&T?
Wow! Actually I have a bunch of goals that would make up that vision:
1. At least five nationals playing on the West Indies team at the World Cup level.
2. That women’s cricket becomes the “sport of choice” for young women wanting to develop a strong sense of self-esteem, discipline, and achieve sporting excellence.
3. Increase in women’s cricket supporters.
4. Greater involvement of people who have benefitted in the past from women’s cricket.
5. No funding challenges.