Deborah McNichol nurturing talents, shaping lives at Malteenoes
By Akeem Greene
The Malteenoes Sports Club, located on Thomas Lands, Georgetown, has been in existence since 1902 and just recently, the club elected its first female President, Deborah McNichol.
Apart from her extensive years of service as a member and executive, the 63-year-old has been a mother to all the young ‘cubs’ that have joined the club.
The instincts of compassion and a mission to do humanitarian services are the driving forces for the single parent of two girls and one boy.
Coming from a family with a history of sport enthusiasts, McNichol said she always had a fondness for sport; her brother played football for Guyana.
The move from just an onlooker to more of an active role in mentorship and administration came when she was advised to let her son, Shaquille Williams, join the club’s cricket team in 2001, at the age of seven.
“At the same time, he was doing Track and Field, so some days I would have to take him to Police Sports Club and then back to Malteenoes, so I was there doing everything with him,” she expressed.
Balancing studies at the University of Guyana, her profession, and running a business, the mother said she still wanted her presence felt at her son’s cricket practice.
“I sat there many afternoons and I saw parents would drop off their children, mother’s too, and I said no because I wanted to see what is happening with these children. I said how I am going to do it, but this here is a boy and I said this can help me mould him and having balance because I always believe in balance.”
Her son went on to represent Guyana at the Under-15 and Under-17 levels, and is a graduate of the University of the West Indies.
And while the immediate attention was the caretaking of her son, she also made it a priority to assist the wellbeing of his teammates, many of whom also represented Guyana at the Youth level.
Among them were Seon Daniels, Steven Sankar, Kwame Crosse, Vishal Narayan, the late Anfernee Bowman, and brothers Kefa and Kareem Naughton.
“Sometimes I asked them, ‘did you do your homework?’ We are not playing cricket alone and that is one of the reasons I used to invite them home because I know what I was instilling in ‘Shaq’ at home and I wanted whoever he was acquainting with, they must be just as his level.”
She added, “I said to him [her son], it is not about you being below or being above, it is about bringing all of you on par because it is to train you youngsters for the world of work out there, to keep you away from the negatives.”
Her approach and passion became stronger when tragedy struck in 2012. Bowman, aged 17, was stabbed to death while standing in front of the North Ruimveldt place where he took lessons.
“That shocked me because, at that time, we were fixing the ground and so we did not have cricket, and up to this day, we do not have a concrete practice facility, so they were all over the place. After then, I said no, because Anfernee was very close to me…I said no, not one other member of this group is going to die that way, it must be natural causes.”
McNichol has been in the Public Service for 43 years and is the current Deputy Permanent Secretary at the Office of the Prime Minister. She is adamant that there must be a balance between sport and academics.
She highlighted club members such as Steven Jacobs and Lennox Cush, both of whom are successful entrepreneurs; Adrian Smith, an Attorney-at-Law, and Chelsea Edghill, soon to be an Olympian and graduate from the Lindenwood University, as examples of the balance to education and sport.
In her role as President, she said it will be a priority to develop the all-weather practice facility, possibly have a full-time groundsman, and increase the club’s membership.
Also sitting as the Secretary of the Georgetown Cricket Association, the MSC President hopes that she can inspire other females to get involved in sport administration.