“Forever!” That was my reply when I was asked how long I have known Valentino Singh.
“You not serious.” That was my reaction when told that we are into his last days on the job.
There is a lot of water under the bridge. This Valentino Singh and I. Many debates and different views about sport and the role of sport. The intent never to be disagreeable nor destructive. It was simple thoughts and views had to be explained and justified. No free pass.
We share in common a passion for sports, the power of sport to make a positive difference in the lives of young people. We also share a close friendship with Denis St Bernard and a soft spot for The Harvard Club.
In terms of our life stories single parent mothers have shaped our attitude and approach to life.
A point of difference would be in the choice of secondary school. I have never held it against Valentino his Queen’s Royal College school days. Ours is an understood rivalry that is actually the cornerstone of a long standing cause of good humour and tongue in cheek debate.
I do acknowledge that QRC has a long history of wordsmith and exemplars of the English language. And that may well be the bridge that has shaped Valentino’s long excellence driven sport journalism career.
Things That Matter came about at the stubborn insistence of ‘Tino’ as he is known to one and all. His considered view at the time was that the Olympic Committee should have a space to articulate its view and opinion and as the secretary general at that time, he directed that I should write it. No amount of excuse making on my part would sway the conversation.
The concept of meeting a deadline and having to come up every week with a column didn’t appeal to me. I saw it as more a burden than an opportunity.
But putting the best interest of the local Olympic movement ahead of personal sensitivities added to my convenient confidence that editor Valentino will not allow his Fatima College partner to make a public fool of himself, I accepted the challenge. Like most things human- how time flies- that first column was in 2005.
The only assurance I demanded was that I didn’t want a single cent as I didn’t want to insult the profession of journalism and put myself out there as a professional journalist. It turned out to be a wonderful experience.
It was therefore with a tremendous degree of surprise that I heard the rumour that Editor Singh was retiring. It’s not that I wasn’t aware that the day would come. Now that it has, it’s as if time has come to a standstill.
Just so just so - what is taken for granted is no more a certainty. Editor Singh that is. No, to be more precise, Trinidad Guardian Editor Sports Desk Valentino Singh. He is heading off into the retirement sunset.
The immeasurable quantum of his effort, energy, knowledge, passion, commitment, dedication and pure love for his job will have left an indelible mark.
Yes sir. It’s that time. Every ending is the beginning of another chapter. One thing you can be sure about we haven’t heard and read the last of Valentino Singh.
Some 572 more or less columns later, Things That Matter extends best wishes to the man who came up with the idea of a Things That Matter Column. What a thing this life. Time certainty flies when a good time is had.
What a wonderful career. Well done Editor Singh. I am sure your best is still to come.
• Brian Lewis is president of the T&T Olympic Committee. The views expressed are not necessarily those of the TTOC.