André Lowe, Senior Staff Reporter
West Indies cricketer Marlon Samuels has targeted his alma maters, Tarrant Primary and Kingston College (KC), as the first beneficiaries of his soon-to-be-launched charity organisation, the Marlon Samuels Foundation, which he expects to be up and running early next year.
Samuels, who has propelled himself back to the top of international cricket on the back of a prodigious return to the game, after a two-year ban in 2008, believes he is now in a position to make a positive impact in the community, noting that it was an easy decision to start with both institutions.
The 31-year-old, who left the island on Wednesday and is not expected back until March 2013, was an avid footballer during his days at Tarrant, and actually represented KC in the Colts Under-16 football competition, before a knee injury forced him to cricket.
He was one of the key players during the West Indies' impressive World T20 Championship title-winning run in Sri Lanka.
At KC, Samuels is hoping to follow through on a promise he made to his former coach Roy McLean, and renovate the school's cricket nursery, which has fallen into a state of disrepair.
Upset with the condition
"Last year, I took my old coach Roy McLean to the (KC) nursery and I did a TV interview with him. He was very upset with the condition of the nursery and I said to him on TV that I will play a big role in fixing the nursery, so the time has come for me to start the foundation and help the primary school and, of course, the nursery at KC," Samuels told The Gleaner in a one-on-one interview shortly before his departure.
"I, of course, went to Tarrant Primary School. I had my situation where I was out (of cricket) for two years and I had some big plans because before that. I always said that I wanted to give back, but my life got set back. Nevertheless, I am now in a position where I can help and I want to do good things and help youngsters," Samuels added.
Samuels' publicist Marisa Benain underscored that they are taking their time to put everything in place and that the support will stretch to other schools and organisations in the future.
"We are not starting with any big-ticket items first, we are in the embryonic stage of the foundation and we have to put a team together and confirm the members, so basically, we are looking at gears and scholarships and so forth to begin with," she said.
"We don't want this to be a one-shot thing, we want something that is sustained. The aim is to start with small items and get bigger as the foundation grows, we have to start somewhere," said Benain. "We are not sure when the first contribution will be, but we will be doing some groundwork in Marlon's absence so that when he comes back to Jamaica it will be smooth sailing."