His Excellency Dr. Rodney Williams, Governor General of Antigua and Barbuda
Honourable Paul Chet Greene, Minister of Trade, Commerce, Industry, Sports, Culture and National Festivals
Senator the Honourable Lennox Weston, Minister of State within the Ministry of Finance and Corporate Governance
Mr. Raju Boddu, Comptroller of Customs
Mr. Randy Baltimore, President of the Antigua and Barbuda Customs Sports Club
Respective Presidents for the Customs and Excise Sports and Culture Club in
– British Virgin Islands
– St. Lucia
– St. Vincent and the Grenadines
– Trinidad and Tobago
– Turks and Caicos
I am truly honoured to be given the esteemed pleasure to warmly welcome everyone here today, not only to Antigua and Barbuda, but also to the 40th Caribbean Customs Sports Tournament. As a nation, which has long been in the
forefront of the move towards full Caribbean Integration, we are incredibly proud to be hosting all of you in our beautiful country.
40 years ago on an Easter Weekend, in 1975 the very first Caribbean Customs Sports Tournament was convened. This was first envisioned by Mr. Neville Monseque, the first Head of the Regional Training School of Trinidad and Tobago and Mr. Errol Douglas, a former comptroller of Customs in Barbados. The idea was borne out of the Easter Weekend that year when a group of Barbadian Customs Officers travelled to Trinidad and Tobago to engage their counterparts in cricket. Today, that tradition has grown to include all of our brothers and sisters in the Caribbean as well as to include additional sports – that are still intrinsic to the Caribbean culture – such as: football, table-tennis, basketball, and dominoes.
What is particularly wonderful, and why we – once again – are very proud to be hosting the Caribbean Customs Tournament is that from its first weekend 40 years ago – it is now more than just a simple sporting competition between customs departments across the region. This Tournament also facilitates cultural exchanges, and fosters greater unity among customs units across our countries. It is an opportunity for building synergies and fostering networking, which are essential to the efficient operations of customs departments across the region, So please know you’re all part of something more – Indeed you are a vital spoke in the wheel of regional integration!
I hope that you will keep this in mind during your stay, as we all do during many more years to come!
Fostering integration through sport and regional tourism is something very near and dear to us and intrinsic to our culture and nature. I speak of us, as the
Caribbean. We are particularly proud of our long storied history with cricket – a sport that has become hand in hand with the West Indies. It is impossible to think of Antigua and Barbuda without thinking of cricket – we are fiercely devoted to the sport. I understand that you will be competing at the Antigua Recreation Ground (ARG), which became the 52nd international test venue in the 1980-81 season. You will be playing on our own hallowed home of historic cricketing achievements such the fastest test century scored by the Master Blaster off just 56 balls against England back on 15 April 1986. The ARG was also the venue that birthed the now commonly used phrases like “Carnival Cricket” and “Party Stand” to describe the fun and festivities that characterise the way we celebrate and enjoy the game. It is one of the most exciting places in the world to observe and also play a match. We’re proud to have you play on such a venue that has nurtured some of the world’s richest talent in this sport, from Andy Roberts to Richie Richardson to Curtley Ambrose, and, of course, the most famous of all, Sir Viv Richards a living national hero.
Fostering Integration through regional tourism is especially dear to my heart, as tourism and the hospitality industry is the economic lifeblood of our country. So whether you’re taking a quick Caribbean getaway, visiting for an sporting event or ‘tying the knot’’ Antigua and Barbuda is the perfect Island getaway. We are known for several things foremost of which is our warm hospitality.
We know you will have a packed itinerary of exciting and competitive sporting activities but I would also like to take this opportunity to invite you to get out and explore, as there is so much more to experience.
If time permits while here, I encourage you to take a trip over to Barbuda our eco friendly sister isle. Enjoy miles of secluded pink sand beaches, and be sure to take in a visit to the Frigate Bird Sanctuary. A visit to Barbuda is truly a proven antidote to stress.
If you don’t have time to take it all in on this visit just remember that our calendar is packed with exciting events, so it’s always a good time to come back and visit. Come back to enjoy Cricket, or celebrate Carnival the Caribbean’s Greatest Summer Festival with us. If you are more nautically inclined then visit us for Sailing week at the end of the winter season during the Caribbean largest and one of the world’s top sailing regattas.
Ladies and Gentlemen The 40th Anniversary is traditionally known as the occasion to give the gift of a ruby – so for the next few days we give you the gift of ourselves as we do believe that Antigua and Barbuda is the perfect ruby gem to be hosting these wonderful games, and a backdrop for amazing, and time-honored displays of athletic prowess and teamwork.
Once again on behalf of the Government and people of our beautiful country a warm welcome to you all…. and best wishes for a successful and fun filled sporting weekend.
May this 40th Anniversary Sports Tournament be one that will long be remembered with warm memories that will entice you to return again and again to Antigua and Barbuda!