As I contemplated my editor’s dutiful reminder to submit my monthly column, I thought deeply about what constitutes a purposeful use of this space and my desire to follow a personal calling to recount compelling stories.
Nigerian novelist Chimamanda Adichie tells the story of how she found her authentic voice—and warns that if we hear only a single story about another person or country, we risk a critical misunderstanding. I am learning to reject the single story, and feel empowered to tell the meaningful stories of persons committed to recharting a new model for our country’s development.
Kyle Lequay, 35, was perhaps born to lead. He’s the nephew of former political activist and cricket administrator Alloy Lequay (deceased), who taught him at an early age to understand development and the distinct roles and responsibilities within the sports administration structure.
He is the President of Trinidad & Tobago’s Beach Soccer Football Association, a husband, businessman, and ‘Ambassador Extraordinaire’ when it comes to marketing and branding Trinidad and Tobago as a global sports tourism destination.
Since 2013, Kyle has produced the most successful beach soccer event in Tobago attracting teams from Spain, Brazil, USA and the Caribbean. Earlier this year he launched Lequay Edge, a sports marketing and entertainment company that provides turnkey solutions for staging world-class sports-tourism events.
How many years have you been involved in your sport?
Since graduating from Howard University in 2007, I have been involved in executing sports marketing and management initiatives with FIFA and the Caribbean Premier League (t20 cricket). In 2010 I launched my first Beach Soccer Championship brand in Tobago.
What has been your biggest accomplishment?
Taking a format of the game (football) where there was neither focus nor structure, and building it through the Beach Soccer Federation to a place where our national women and men’s teams became gold and silver medallists respectively at the 2017 Youth Commonwealth Games.
Have you experienced failure?
To date, I think not being able to provide a permanent home for our beach soccer athletes to train, with ideal training surfaces, in order to further develop the sport locally.
What makes you decide on beginning a new venture?
It must be an innovative, niche product in terms of the sports-tourism/entertainment market segment. I developed ‘Cheer in the Sun’ as an idea and pitched it to the local Cheerleading Federation. I later recognised that in the USA there are four million registered cheerleaders. If we can get 1,000 to come to Tobago annually, it is going to reap volumes for the sport, and the development of the sports-tourism product, which can be replicated in other islands.
What is the best advice you ever received?
If it were easy then everyone would do it; if you believe in something and are focused on it, get it done.
Have you ever felt like you had to start over?
I would never look at it from that perspective; everything I do is with the desire to build and continue based on the foundation set.
What inspires you?
Demonstrating with my life that being creative and innovative is acceptable, you do not have to convince others, convince yourself first. Secondly, a burning desire to leave a legacy of having made a positive contribution to sport in Trinidad and Tobago. Perhaps it runs in my DNA.
Do you consider yourself as having made it?
I believe that if one considers themselves an innovative leader in any field there is usually an insatiable desire for constant improvement. No, I have not made it, there is no finish line, and I have to keep going.
What do most people think about you that may/may not be true?
That I have made it (smiles). They think I am rather young to have accomplished all the things that I have executed in a short space of time. In addition, they think I love to speak in public, which is the furthest thing from the truth (laughs)
What do you believe are key factors for success in your sport?
God gave us two ears and one mouth. I should listen twice as much as I speak so I am better guided. I also firmly believe in reading, educating myself and being focused and disciplined.
Thank you, Kyle.
As we close another year, my prayer is one of spiritual growth, unwavering commitment to one’s personal calling, and a life of service. Happy New Year, everyone.
Jamila Gamero is a triathlete and former professional footballer for Sevilla FC women’s Club in Spain. She is the mother of two boys, Tishad and Akim, and the founder of the Mariama Foundation, a registered non-profit organisation raising the storytelling bar for the Caribbean’s female athletes.