By Neto Baptiste
International warri Grandmaster Trevor Simon said that although winning at the highest level is the ultimate achievement, being given the opportunity to be an ambassador for Antigua and Barbuda is what brought him the most joy throughout his illustrious career.
The player, who won a total of 26 world titles from 27 appearances, with the other being a silver medal finish, said that being able to tell thousands of people from across the globe about his tiny twin-island state was always the highlight of his travels.
“I remember in 2016 under the tourism minister Asot Michael, when I went to take part [in a competition] in France, he had given me an Antigua and Barbuda promotional video. I can distinctly remember the Sunday when I won the championship, they actually played that clip in the stadium and I had to run and hide, literally, because of the type of interest people were showing. People were saying, this place looks like paradise and everybody [got] all excited about Antigua,” he said.
Simon was awarded Commander of the Most Distinguished Order of the Nation (CN) during the country’s 41st Independence celebrations on Tuesday, an honour bestowed in recognition of his contributions to sports.
He pointed specifically to a Nomad Games held in Kyrgyzstan over 10 years ago when Antigua and Barbuda won both the team and individuals awards.
“I’ve never felt so emotional in my life, watching the Antigua flag raised twice and the response from people, because you’re talking about an event where you had 78 countries from around the globe represented and little Antigua on the map, won gold in the individual and gold in the team events. It was an exhausting experience for me because you had about 2,000 press people there and everybody wanted to interview you and it was crazy,” Simon said.
The Antiguan, who is the most decorated warri player in the world, believes tourism officials should seek to utilise the game and the country’s popularity as champions as way to attract more visitors.
“I had made a recommendation to the tourism department, some years ago, that they use warri as part of our promotional tool. I don’t know if that really happened because I’ve never seen it but I have made the recommendation for that to take place. It’s not too late because we can get a lot of mileage doing that because we have been dominating the event for so long,” he said.
Simon was awarded alongside 13 times Premier Division champions, the Empire Football Club during Tuesday’s ceremony. The Grays Green team was awarded the Most Precious Order of Princely Heritage.