I met up with Daren Sammy for the purposes of this feature in the Rodney Bay Marina. It was early afternoon, and the weather was somewhat dismal, however, the atmosphere inside the ‘Bread Basket’ was quite lively.
He was famished. And as he sat across me, I knew he could not wait to dive into the bowl of bouillon he had just gotten. Halfway through the interview, he did just that, topping it off with a cold glass of passion fruit juice.
He was happy to discuss his passion – cricket. Who was Daren Sammy on and off field? What does he like? What was it like growing up in Dugard, Micoud? Did he play cricket at school?
The former West Indies Cricket Team Captain was happy to share.
“For me at that time it was like the best days,” he said, speaking on his younger days in Micoud.
“Growing up in the countryside, even though you did not get the fancy food, you know the fruits are in abundance—when mango is in season I never go hungry,” he said, also recalling the time spent on the plantation with his dad,Johannes Sammy.
Daren always had an immeasurable love for cricket. According to him, he played cricket “non-stop” as a child and at times, he even got kicked out of class because of it, as his shirt was “too wet” from playing the sport.
A member of his school’s cricket team, Daren, a past student of the Micoud Combined School, Emmanuel SDA Combined School and Vieux Fort Comprehensive Secondary School, grew up playing cricket with cricketers like Gary Mathurin, Gaspard Prospere, Joachim George and a number of others.
“I think most of us played National Under 15 for Saint Lucia,” he said, adding that there was always fierce rivalry between the schools.
At school, they called him “Papa Cricket”.
He envisioned himself as a professional cricketer as soon as he was old enough to pursue such –his mother had different ideas, however.
“I always saw cricket as my way out; my mum wanted me to become a pastor because we were raised in the Adventist Church; I used to preach a little in church but my love for cricket has always taken over everything,” he shared.
His favourite thing about the sport is the joy it brings, not forgetting that it’s also a “gentleman’s game”.
“It’s sexy to me—it’s something that I was born in,” Daren added.
But cricket, like everything else, has its disadvantages as well. When asked what he dislikes about the sport, he immediately responded, “When you don’t perform.”
He continued: “Cricket is a great leveler; we (fellow players) always say that. One day you score 100 runs, next time you play and don’t perform to the best of your ability—it keeps you humble.”
Another disadvantage is spending a considerable amount of time away from his family, but luckily for Daren, father to Darren, Darjhan, Skai, and Xzavier Reign, and husband to Cathy Sammy, his family is a terrific one. He refers to wife Cathy asa “super wife”.
He’s not the only cricketer in his family. His brother Murlan Sammy is also a star in his own right who plays for the Choiseul Craftmasters. When asked to name three cricketers who stand out locally, his first choice was his brother, Murlan.
“I’m really impressed with the way he has improved over the years,” he said. “I always encouraged him to take cricket seriously because to me he was more talented than I was at 15.”
He continued: “AlsoJohnnel Eugene – he plays well, and Kimani Melius. Gavin Serieux Jr is another who stands out—we have some good young cricketers coming through.”
Daren loves to give back to his home country, one which has supported him from the beginning. He does so through the ‘Daren Sammy Foundation’ (DSF), to give back in whatever way he can.
“The parents are very thankful and appreciative of what the Foundation is doing and hopefully it grows to be even better and I could give back to a country that has loved me and supported me,” he said.
The DSF often gives scholarships to students and visits schools where members share invaluable information with students, amongst other things.
Today, Daren’s sacrifices and hard work have paid off. He’s faced many challenges along the way, but remained resolute, certain that he would be the man he wanted to be.
“I knew what I wanted to do, and nobody was going to stop me so whatever challenges I faced or disappointments that came my way, I just told myself that there’s a blessing in disguise,” he said.
He also has an entire arena named in his honour, the Daren Sammy Cricket Ground.
“I’m still reluctant to say the Daren Sammy Cricket Ground,” he said, explaining that it felt surreal to have a cricket ground named after him and that he still calls it “Beausajour”.
Daren has a special message to Saint Lucian young people: “My message to the young people is to keep challenging yourself; if it was easy everybody would have done it already. Sometimes in life you just have to think of the process in order to get to the goal. When life throws challenges at you, don’t give up.”
All in all, Daren is thankful for all the Lord’s blessings. Twenty years from now, he wants to be known as “someone who entertained, someone who played the game with a smile—just a really nice guy.”