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Miss Anne : True Love

Sunday, May 14 2017

Have you ever been to any local or international cricket competitions hosted by the Trinidad and Tobago Cricket Board (TTCB) or the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) and noticed a woman with a walkie-talkie ubiquitously employing her managerial skills to ensure smooth operations? Perhaps you may have glimpsed a more reserved team operations manager amidst the West Indies Women’s Cricket Team celebrations after creating history in being crowned the ICC World T20 Champions in India, 2016.

Record-breaking is the hobby of Gertrude Ann Browne-John, better known in the sporting world as “Miss Ann”. She described that particular experience as, “A feeling I cannot explain because we won being the underdogs. The odds were against us from day one and it was even better to repeat the celebration with the men.” The TT’s Hall-of-Famer, as an administrator, must have been ebullient by the achievement, but was more relieved to _ nally be victorious at this level - a feat she did not accomplish in her two ICC World Cups 50 overs in 1993 and 1997 as captain, then in 2005 as coach.

Her appreciation for sports started while in the womb of her national cricketing mother Bernice, just over 60 years ago in Belmont, and continued as she grew up in a sporting family - seven sisters, four brothers and her cricket loving parents. All eight females played for the family team, Merry Girls and two of her sisters Louise and Beverly also represented both the national and West Indies teams.

The Humming Bird silver awardee attended Melville Memorial Girls Primary School and St Francois Girls College. She recalled, “I was doing the Mathematics O’ Level exams and my father was outside in the car waiting on me to play a cricket match as soon I was completed.” Being a national cricketer was not challenging enough for the polymath sportswoman, so she took up hockey at the Paragon club and became a dual national player. This decision was not only bene_ cial to her but to TT, as it harnessed the skills development of the country’s most capped and probably best ever hockey player, Kwandwane Browne.

“Kwan is my nephew but he grew up with me from two-years-old. He attended hockey matches with me and we allowed him to play with us. There were mornings I woke up to hear balls knocking against the wall, and this was when he was only _ ve-years-old. I’m proud of what he continues to achieve.” The time management expert reminisced, “It was difficult to be playing two national sports, especially when both of them are played in the same seasonal period. So, I had cricket practice on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday afternoon, plus Hockey on a Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday mornings.” The TT’s Top 50 Sporting Legends inductee remembered, “I left for Jamaica with the national cricket team for the Regional Cricket Tournament, which we won and a couple days after returning home I left again with the national hockey team for the Caribbean Tournament.

And we were also victorious. In those days, I worked as a Customs Officer and I didn’t take vacations because I was so ashamed for being away so often on national duty.” She represented TT in hockey at two Central American and Caribbean (CAC) and two Pan American Games between (1986-1991), while her cricket career lasted 22 years from (1975-1997). Her most notable match was against Australia in 1993 World Cup when she batted the entire innings and scored 65 not out.

She endured early struggles such as the stigma of women participating in a male dominating sport of cricket, as well as the _ nancial strain to purchase the expensive cricket gear. But, she overcame it due to her full-time support of family members, coaches and teammates, with her husband, Septimus being at the top of the list. So how did motherhood factor in in her hectic sporting life? “My husband is really supportive, believe it or not he loves sports more than me, and with my intense schedule he took the responsibility of minding our daughter, Sasha.” She boasts about her friendship-style relationship with Sasha. “I tried to pattern myself like my mother because she was a special person, she was always there for all her children. I learnt that motherhood increases your responsibility; you must adjust and have a good relationship with your children,” something that is re_ ected in the special message Sasha sent to her mother via WMN.

“My mom is one of my closest friends who has given me the opportunity to be open with her and I’ve grown to appreciate that. She has done everything in her life with such dignity, class and respect. She taught me to be kind to others and always stay humble. People who know her would know that she’s a very simple person despite all the great things she has done. She is not only the type of mom I hope to be some day but she’s also the sort of person I strive to be every day! Mom, because this day is so special in terms of honouring our mothers, I would like to publicly thank you for everything you have done for me and express how for grateful and honoured I am to have a mom like you. I love you!” Miss Ann lives by her favourite quote, “True love is forever” as she continues to do what she loves, for as long as possible

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