• 04 Dec, 2022

Trinidadian-Guyanese Rivalry at Providence

Trinidadian-Guyanese Rivalry at Providence

Trinidadian-Guyanese Rivalry at Providence

I was at the stadium Saturday evening and saw happy faces at the start of the match. There was no tension, but off course the Guyanese desperately wanted to defeat the Trinis. There has been tense rivalry between Guyana and Trinidad since CPL began nine years ago. It is a serious private rivalry. So both sides wanted to win.  
Trini fans celebrated the early fall of Chanderpaul Haimraj and Guyanese fans were sad when minutes earlier they cheered runs scored. The team recovered though scoring was slow until the last few overs when the momentum picked up. It was a great match. Indeed, all of the matches at Providence so far were outstanding and fans enthused. It was a sell out on Saturday night. Perhaps all the tickets were sold out for all matches, but scalpers probably held on to some because there were empty seats on all the stands. There were many scalpers outside peddling tickets. 
 
As in the other two matches I witnessed at the stadium, Amazon Warriors fans cheered when their players scored runs and when a review was in favor.  They became disappointed when a wicket fell. The same was observed on the Trini side, but Trini fans were outnumbered by more than a hundred to one. The Trini flags flew and waved as did the emblems and paraphernalia of the Trinidad Knight Riders. Some fans sported TKR tee shirts. The Trini posse and their noisemakers as well as flags were drowned out and or overwhelmed by the GAW. 
 The match was somewhat evenly poised at the end of the power play and mid way in the batting of the visitors.  It could have gone either way. But things began to go downhill for the TKR as began losing wicket at regular intervals. At the end of the 15 overs, I realized it was over for TKR.  And Guyana won big in the end dismissing TKR at the last ball for a low score.  Russel, Pollard, and even Sunil Narine disappointed with the batting. Narine, as usual, bowled well. 
 
Trini fans were left with sullen, sunken, sad  faces, a complete opposite to the beginning of the match when Haimraj fell. Guyanese celebrated to the heaven in their voices and flag waving and rising from their seats.  Guyanese cheered, somewhat mockingly that Guyana defeated Trinidad. And that feeling may not entirely have to do with cricket, but the way Guyanese were treated at Piarco Airport during the 1980s and until recently when Guyana discovered oil and producing almost four times as much as Trinidad (which produces 80K barrels daily this year. Guyana was producing about 120K daily since December 2019 and romped up production this year to 320K (?). 
I can sense the tension between the Trinis and Guyanese (actually more negative from the Guyanese side than from the Trinis who were staring defeat). The Trini fans cowed down as supporters of any losing team would. It was a lot of cheering around tge stands and grass. Regrettably, there was physical confrontations, chair and bottle throwing. The confrontation was a nuisance on a very small scale. Nevertheless, security must make sure no glass bottles are allowed through the gates. There was also some booing which is unacceptable. Extreme jingoism must not be tolerated. 
 
It is wrong to mock, jeer, and or make snide remarks in a sporting event. And worse to use expletives. Fans attend for enjoyment. They choose a side to support, usually their home team. But you also are supposed to acknowledge outstanding plays of opponents and their performance.  One must not forget that not all the players of GAW are Guyanese and not all of TKR are Trinis. And fans are reminded that Guyana’s great cricket hero in recent time, Shivnarine Chanderpal is coaching Jamaica’s Tallawahs which is owned by a Guyanese. 
Every team plays to win and no team and or its fans want to lose a game. But losing and winning are parts of the game. In order to win, the other side must lose.  Losing a match must be accepted. One should not be ashamed in defeat and attack the losers. Had TKR won, would the Guyanese fans have been booed or attacked? 
 
The tension between Guyanese and Trinis has long roots and not just sports related.  It is immigration related and how Guyanese visitors were treated over several decades during the darkest period of the dictatorship especially from 1980. Immigration agents, ruling politicians (allied with Burnham) and some jealous Trinidadians gave Guyanese a hard time. And Guyanese are not forgettable. The memory came to the fore again during the bidding for oil and other contracts some five years ago. Guyanese feel Trinis must not get special treatment or even contacts. 
Guyanese need to be reminded that their ill treatment in Trinidad was not people centered but political in nature. Immigration and customs agents carried out a government policy. Nevertheless, in spite of harsh policies, tens of thousands of Guyanese settled in Trinidad. I was never I’ll treated at Immigration and customs except twice in over two hundred arrivals there. Trinis were very hospitable since my going there in 1981. They offered me lodging and meals all over the island.  My hospitable treatment may be attributed to my status and prominence having routinely appeared on TV, radio, and newspapers as a political commentator.  But other Guyanese, especially those who studied at UWI, were also treated very well away from the harsh experience at the airport. Trinis provided affordable accommodation for them. Many were fed well at Hindu prayers and at homes of hospitable Trinidadians and given containers of delicious food to “tote home”. Many Guyanese were employed all over Trinidad. Many trained at UWI, especially engineers, doctors, lawyers, nurses, and other professionals remained behind. Professionals as well as the unschooled migrated from Guyana to Trinidad. Many have acquired wealth many times more than they would in their former homeland and live a better life than in Guyana. 
Thus, there is no need for this hate, tension, and rivalry in sports or otherwise. 
Yours Truly, 
Vishnu Bisram 

Dr Vishnu Bisram

Dr. Vishnu Bisram is Guyanese born who received his primary and secondary education in Guyana and tertiary education in the US and India. He is a holder of multiple degrees in the natural sciences, social sciences, and education. He taught for over forty years in the US. He is a specialist on the Indian diaspora traveling globally to research and write about Indian communities.