West Indies cricketer and Atlantic Sports Ambassador Merissa Aguilleira is once again a hero – but this time not on the cricket pitch, but in the district of Basse Terre, Morgua, where she presented 210 children with books, stationery and other supplies for the new school term, as part of her Back to School Programme.
An annual initiative coordinated in partnership with LNG producer Atlantic, Merissa’s Back to School Programme this year targeted 180 new and existing students of Basse Terre RC Primary and 30 students from Moruga Secondary School, Merissa’s alma mater. The students and their parents assembled at the Moruga Secondary School for the presentation ceremony, and were as delighted to shake hands with the cricketer as to receive her words of encouragement and brightly wrapped presents.
Camille Salandy, Atlantic’s Head of Sustainability and Corporate Communications explained that by partnering with Merissa for the initiative, the LNG production company was deepening the impact of the Atlantic Sports Ambassadors Programme, which in addition to Merissa also includes West Indies cricketers Kieron Pollard and Sunil Narine, and Olympians George Bovell III, Richard Thompson and Andrew Lewis.
“The Atlantic Sports Ambassadors help to inspire the next generation of athletes, the future cricketers, swimmers, sailors and sprinters of Trinidad and Tobago,” Salandy said. “Every year we ask our Sports Ambassadors to choose an outreach initiative that we can help them with, and this programme by Merissa is exemplary for its focus on enhancing education for children in these communities. Atlantic is deeply committed to facilitating the development of the next generation, and these personal outreach initiatives by our sporting heroes work very well with Atlantic’s various programmes that help to build community and national capacity for the long term and which touch the lives of many children and people in Point Fortin and wider Trinidad and Tobago.”
Aguilleira explained that the economic hardships faced by some families often prevented children from accessing their full potential, a situation she was keen to address by leveraging her status as a cricketer for her country and region.
“I’m passionate about cricket and about representing Trinidad and Tobago and the West Indies, but I’m just as passionate about helping to contribute to the forward movement of our young people,” Aguilleira said. “With my Back To School Programme, we identify different districts every year whose students we can assist, who we can help set on the right path towards success in the future.”
Merissa Aguilleira became a member of the Trinidad and Tobago senior cricket team in 2005 and was appointed captain of the national side two years later. Merissa went on to join the West Indies’ women’s team in 2008, and one year later, she was named captain, a position she held until 2015. In April, Merissa and her team-mates on the West Indies Women’s Cricket Team won the ICC Twenty20 World Cup against Australia in Kolkata.