It was a welcome reception truly befitting national heroes when Darren Sammy, captain of the West Indies T20 team, and team-mate Johnson Charles arrived at the Hewannorra International Airport on Tuesday afternoon. This, after the two Saint Lucians had made West Indians the world over proud by defeating England on Sunday April 3, 2016 to regain the ICC T20 trophy in the final of the world cup.
The pair were greeted on the tarmac as they disembarked their BA flight by prime minister Kenny Anthony and other ministers as well as Digicel’s Country Manager Siobhan James-Alexander.
They were then welcomed at the VIP lounge by other members of Cabinet, the leader of the opposition, sports officials and family members. During a short reception the prime minister announced the renaming of the cricket stadium the Darren Sammy Stadium and one of the stands to be named after Johnson Charles. Charles will also be rewarded with a parcel of land by the government.
As Charles and Sammy made their way out of the VIP lounge they were greeted by thousands of fans who had flocked to the airport to welcome them home. Some bore placards, some cricket T-shirts, while others adorned their national colours and beamed with pride as they mobbed the two cricket heroes for photo ops and autographs.
This was followed by a massive motorcade which saw the streets from Vieux Fort to Castries aligned with supporters hoping for a glimpse of the two sons of the soil. On several occasions Sammy and Charles stopped to greet fans, making this one of the longest journeys from Vieux Fort to Castries.
Darren Sammy and Johnson Charles also paid a courtesy call on governor general Dame Pearlette Louisy before heading to the Derek Walcott Square for a massive rally. Speeches aside, the activity featured performances by TJ and Arthur among others as well as Sammy, Charles and fans doing the now famous Champions dance.