Sports personality Joseph “Reds” Perreira witnessed the nearly 15 golden years of West Indies cricket up until the early 1990s when the Caribbean side won two World Cups and enjoyed a 27-Test unbeaten streak under Clive Lloyd’s captaincy.
The retired cricket commentator considers himself even more fortunate that Lloyd was in Toronto last week for the North American launch of his biography, Living the Dream
The former West Indies captain and International Cricket Council (ICC) match referee spent four days in the city on his way to Trinidad & Tobago for last weekend’s West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) Twenty/20 semi-finals and final.
“Reds has always been a good friend and a wonderful commentator,” said Lloyd, the ICC cricket committee chair. “On my first trip to India in 1966, he came and spoke to me and bought me a pair of shoes in London. He’s a man of the people and someone who I respect.”
With many close family and friends in the Greater Toronto Area, Perreira said it was an easy decision to come to Canada for the book’s first launch outside the Caribbean.
A high school drop out who stammered in his early years, Perreira overcame the obstacles to become a leading Caribbean sports commentator and administrator.
“I didn’t think I had a book in me,” he admitted. “I was no author and the only degree I have is ‘streetology’. Ian (McDonald) always kept telling me that I should think about recording my humble life and I finally took him up on that and finished the manuscript last February.”
The book was officially unveiled on May 12 in St. Lucia where Perreira now lives.
McDonald, who splits time between the Greater Toronto Area and Guyana, said the book provides a fascinating personal odyssey.
“Reds always seem to know everything about every sport being played in the world and he would always go the extra-mile to help Caribbean sports personalities,” said the poet and former West Indies lawn tennis champion. “Perhaps it is as a cricket commentator that Reds garnered his greatest public fame, but I believe that his deepest and most remarkable contribution to all our lives in the West Indies lies in his lifelong love and support of all sports across the regional board.
“I have never known anyone who has loved all sports more than Reds and who believe more strongly that encouragement and assistance are essential parts of nation building. I have also never known anyone who has given all of himself whole-heartedly to the appreciation of West Indies sport and the greatness of all games.”
Perreira called his first first-class match – Guyana against Trinidad & Tobago in Berbice – in 1959 and his first Test – India versus host nation the Caribbean – in 1971.
As a sports administrator in Guyana, Perreira coached Santos and the National Under-23 soccer sides, managed national rugby teams and served as president of the Guyana Amateur Basketball Association, as advisor to the late Sports Minister Shirley Field-Ridley and chairman of the National Sports Council.
At the regional level, he was the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States’ first sports director and a former St. Lucia Amateur Boxing Association president and St. Lucia Tourist Board sports consultant.
Perreira used the Canadian book launch to thank those who paved the way for his personal and professional success. They include former St. Lucia Prime Minister Dr. Vaughan Lewis who offered him the opportunity to work with the OECS; the Caribbean Broadcasting Union, CBC in Barbados, former Guyana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC) general manager Rafiq Khan and Antigua-based former broadcaster and Caribbean diplomat Sir Ronald Saunders who attended the Toronto launch.
“Whatever little I have achieved is through opportunities I have been presented by others,” said Perreira. “I did not achieve anything by myself.”
Also present at the launch were former Jamaica and West Indies fast bowler Tom Dewdney who lives in Scarborough and the brothers of late West Indies opener Roy Fredericks and Lance Gibbs who was the second bowler (Freddie Trueman was the first) and first spinner to take 300 Test wickets.