The ex-national captain made the unique revelation to University of London International Programmes online magazine journalist, Lisa Pierre, in a special interview last week.
Ganga, also a University of London Bsc Law with Management graduate, spoke to Pierre on many personal issues and challenges he faced as a young cricketer coming out of the rural community of Barrackpore in south Trinidad.
Travelling extensively as a national sportsman, Ganga still managed to educate himself academically, a feat that is certainly overlooked or bypassed by several top international athletes due to their chaotic sporting schedules.
With reference to balancing his cricketing career and academic future, Ganga explained, “that was a tough one. There were moments when I felt somewhat overwhelmed because of the workload and my lack of time. However, what worked to my advantage is that I truly enjoyed playing cricket — it was not just a job — so after a game, or even training, my brain would feel energised and ready to study.
“In addition, I am very competitive with myself, so I would push myself to complete my courses and excel in exams. I enjoyed the learning process and was grateful that I could both play cricket and study, so this outlook motivated me further.
In addition, my team, family and the University of London team were very supportive of my pursuits, and this was a great comfort to me.”
Recently, the London graduate gave an address at the Undergraduate Laws Programme graduation in Port-of-Spain. In his address, Ganga revealed that he was not the typical student by not studying full-time and not completing his undergraduate degree within the stipulated time frame. However, he saluted youngsters who attempted to work hard and educate themselves at their own pace. According to Ganga, these characteristics describe “the working professional”.
In his interview with Pierre, the seasoned cricketer also spoke about some of his most memorable moments representing this nation and the regional squad. Reflecting on his first ever West Indian Test debut of South Africa back in 1998, Ganga was just 19 years old and the youngest player selected on that team.
He further explained, “it was a tremendous honour to be part of such an historic tour, at an auspicious time in history: we were the first West Indies team to tour post-apartheid South Africa.
“I must admit it was also very intimidating to be playing among the likes of Brian Lara, Courtney Walsh and Curtly Ambrose and I felt immense pressure to prove myself and make my mark. In the end, I just believed in myself and tried my best, always seeking to learn from the other senior players, and stretching myself to grow as much as possible at that stage in my career.”
Confessing his greatest sporting moment, Ganga declared, “there are so many memorable moments that I can think of. However, the one that stands out the most, one I will always treasure, is being presented my West Indies Test cap in South Africa in 1998 upon my International Test debut.”
In conclusion, Ganga revealed to the English-based journalist on his dreams of creating a better Trinidad and Tobago all round. However, he also highlighted the many struggles that several locals face on a daily basis towards making basic ends meet.
“Citizens of Trinidad and Tobago are indeed blessed with many opportunities to better themselves. We currently have free education up to the tertiary level, free sporting camps and clinics across the country, and numerous activities in which young people may become involved to develop their talents. That being said, many families do continue to struggle to make ends meet, let alone push their children to pursue their goals. It is my hope that young people hold on to their dreams, regardless of whatever tenuous circumstances, and seek out and take advantage of avenues to excel.
“At the same time, I hope that Foundations such as the Daren Ganga Foundation and the many others that are doing such good work, receive the corporate support required to reach more and more young people, and truly make a positive difference in their lives,” he ended.