Thousands of St. Lucians gave a fitting hero’s welcome to West Indies captain Darren Sammy and his teammate Johnson Charles after their arrival yesterday afternoon at Hewanorra International Airport in Vieux Fort.
Sammy guided the West Indies team to an unprecedented win in the recent ICC World T20 Championships in Sri Linka – the regional team’s first global title since 1979. Charles also contributed to this historic occasion which saw the West Indies defeat hosts and world T20 number one ranked Sri Lanka by 36 runs last Sunday.
Prior to their arrival, St. Lucians on Facebook were teeming with anticipation of the duo’s arrival.
One observer wrote: “Music blared from massive loudspeakers on stage, lowered only to announce that Sammy’s plane was delayed and his arrival at the Square would be later than expected. The restless throng couldn’t be bothered with the blistering sun, and people crowded the bars-in-a-tent, and moving in and out of the Square’s four main entrances greeting friends, and some watched replays of the match on a gigantic screen. The scene easily reminded of Jazz on the Square or Mas on the Square events which pulled great crowds at different times throughout the year.”
On their arrival, Sammy, Charles, along with another West Indies teammate Dwayne Bravo, were met at the airport by a high-level delegation led by Prime Minister Dr. Kenny D Anthony.
Sammy was grateful for his success. He was quoted as saying: “I will definitely thank God for this. He has blessed me tremendously. Praises go up and blessings come down. I thank my parents… I have an ever supporting wife who encourages me to strive to excellence. To everybody thank you… when I come home I am always happy…and like Johnson say ‘let’s party’.”
Speaking during a brief welcome ceremony at the airport’s VIP lounge, Prime Minister Anthony told Sammy he is not only an ambassador for St. Lucia, but for the entire region.
Following the ceremony, Sammy and Charles met students and other citizens at the arrival terminal before motorcading to Castries for a special ceremony at the Derek Walcott square where hundreds, if not thousands, waited their arrival.
Meanwhile, the event continued to go viral on Facebook.
“It’s high time we Lucians look up to our sports heroes as role models for us to achieve our goals and reach da higher heights!”Stephanie Blass wrote on the social networking site.
Another, identified as Caron Tobiere, said: “Darren Sammy has really grown – where are the critics?”
According to reports, Sammy has jumped 13 places in the International Cricket Council (ICC) batting rankings after his back-to-the-wall maiden Test century. He also moved up one places to seventh in the all-rounders, and he is close to the top 20 in bowling at 25.
Photos credited to: Kirshania Kerlyn Hubert, Jerry George, Janitia Blasse Warner, Digicel St. Lucia, and Johnson Jkube James