Caribbean: The Lesser Antilles - Insight Guides (2016)
INSIGHT: SPECTATOR SPORTS
The West Indies are rightly known for their prowess in cricket, but soccer engenders equal enthusiasm, and sports of every kind are played and enjoyed at all levels.
West Indies cricket is the major sport of the region that anyone can watch, from a village team to an international match. First-class teams in the region are the Leeward Islands (including the USVI and Sint Maarten), the Windward Islands, Barbados, and Trinidad and Tobago, and players from these teams (and Jamaica and Guyana) are picked to represent the West Indies in international cricket. The men’s West Indies cricket team won the ICC World Twenty20 in 2012 and the women’s team won the 2010 ICC Women’s Cricket Challenge Twenty20 International Tournament and came second in the Women’s Cricket World Cup in 2013.
Soccer is played by every small boy with a ball and many girls now take it up at school too. Soccer pitches in the Caribbean can be a sorry sight with little grass and lopsided goal posts, but they are well used. Every island’s national team competes in CONCACAF regional tournaments. Aruba, the USVI, Anguilla, and Montserrat are ranked at the bottom, but the Trinidad and Tobago team, the Soca Warriors, holds the record of being the smallest nation ever to qualify for the World Cup Finals, in 2006, where they scored one point.
The girls playing cricket on the street in St Lucia may well be the stars of the future - the West Indies’ cricket team is a force to be reckoned with.
The people of the Lesser Antilles are sports mad. Athletics, cricket, soccer, netball… they are world-class authorities. The latest results will be mulled over every evening over a game of dominoes and a rum - criticism can get quite animated, with heated exchanges as the finer points of a match are debated. If someone asks you where you are from, don’t be surprised if he knows every member of your local soccer team and where they stand in the league. High up in the rainforest canopy of Dominica, you could be discussing the merits of the latest transfer list in English soccer with your guide, who wears the football shirt of his favorite Premier League team.
West Indies cricket crowds are legendary and the supporters have influenced audiences worldwide. The game is greeted with a cacophony of sound, from whistles to drums, which quietens as the bowler runs up, and explodes again as the batsman hits the ball to the boundary. During intervals the audience may be entertained by characters such as the (now retired) cross-dressing cheerleader, Gravy, who still occasionally puts on a cameo performance.