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The unlikely contenders

Kirani James won Grenada’s first Olympic gold medal in the 2012 games, held in London. The hurdler remains the most well-known sportsperson yet to emerge from the Caribbean. It was with great excitement that a Grenadian junior fishing team would be able to participate in the 2022 National Commonwealth Celebration. This article is brought to you by Sue Galloway.

Team Grenada’s first-time fishing experience at Abington Park Northampton

The United African Association community group signposted participants to the NNAC Fish-A-Bility project held at the Abington Park fishing lake on 26 June 2022. Three siblings with Grenadian ancestry, Sahan, Silas and Faris Edwards, signed up for the one-hour introductory sessions.

We could tell that the three brothers were extremely excited, even though they had never fished before. They took to it like ducks to water, being so eager to learn that by the end of the session, they had grasped the basic pole fishing techniques.

They enjoyed the experience so much that they were keen to come back and fish again.

It was at this stage that I enquired if they would be interested in forming a team to represent Grenada at the Canal & River Trust's National Commonwealth Communities Celebration being held in October 2022 on the Shropshire Union Canal.

Mum supported the proposal; the three youngsters certainly seemed up for the challenge and were duly signed up. Mum purchased their NNAC membership club cards and dates were set for upcoming practise sessions.

The road to the National Celebration of Young People and Fishing 2022

The call for participants was made to all the NNAC junior members. The three Grenadian siblings were keen on taking part and put in the required practice. On 3 September 2022, Mum sent me a text message, “all booked.” I was thrilled and put the wheels in motion for more upskilling. I never knew quire what to expect on these development sessions as their characters were so different.

Team Grenada and their mum practicing at Furnace Lane on the Grand Union canal

The siblings were often boisterous and from time to time displayed some quite challenging behaviour. This was often brought about by their natural sibling rivalry and the youngest boy Faris consistently beating his two older brothers.

Each training session had its challenges with Faris enquiring,” Am I winning? Does Silas have more fish than me?” It was always a constant competition with Faris. Being the youngest, he was determined to beat his brothers every single time, and that he did. Sahan, the eldest, was simply happy fishing and didn't seem to care much about winning or losing. Silas on the other hand often tried to fish in Faris's swim, distracting him in the process.

National Celebrations 2022 day one

The big day arrived. Faris was participating in the cadet section alongside over 80 other 7-10 year olds, a record attendance for this increasingly popular event. I picked up a very sleepy Faris for the trip to Staffordshire. He fell asleep almost as soon as we left Northampton.

A short McDonald's stop for a hot chocolate made his morning. The brisk walk to peg one also warmed him up on what turned out to be a blustery day. He speedily mixed his Sensas Noire and Gros Gardons groundbait and I helped him to tackle up.

I enquired as what he wished to achieve from the day, and he responded, “I desperately need to catch a gudgeon and a roach in order to secure the Fjuka gudgeon mug and a Let's Fish! cap, oh, and I want to beat the weight of fish that my brothers manage to catch.”

Faris Edwards

Well, it did not take long to achieve part one of his goals. Within minutes of the all-in sounding, Faris had landed a gudgeon and roach in double quick time, thus cementing his mug and cap. We had one happy chappy and I could begin to relax and savour the occasion with its wonderful friendly family atmosphere.

Tactics were nice and simple; the keen young fellow fished at three meters distance from the nearside bank throughout the duration of the three-hour celebration. Faris baited pinkies, maggots and chopped worm with the occasional ball of groundbait and loosefeed squatts over the top, doing his best to follow the instructions set out in Motty's video.

Being drawn at peg one, he was the very first person to be weighed in, witnessed live on Facebook by a global audience approaching three figures with the commentary delivered by John Ellis in his uniquely enthusiastic style.

Faris' catch weighed in on the Reuben Heaton scales at an incredible 1.29kgs. When the results were announced back at the headquarters, his weight of fish was good enough to take seventh spot in his celebration debut. What an amazing achievement.

National Celebrations day two

Another early start for me. Their mum dropped Sahan and Silas at my house, and I drove them up to Shropshire. We chattered briefly on the way before they both fell asleep. They were very happy to wake up at McDonalds for hot drinks. The siblings were certainly excited, but also knew that they had a challenging day ahead, chasing Faris's impressive weight of 1.29kgs.

Sahan fishing at three meters

The lads savored the experience, and they were thrilled to have caught some fish. As luck would have it, they both weighed-in an identical 0.45kgs, and they secured their Fjuka gudgeon mugs and roach caps. Of course, their combined weight of 0.90kgs was not going to match Faris's weight of 1.29gs. I got the impression that they were rather dreading getting back home to break that news to Faris.

Silas Celebrations bag. 0.45kgs

As I dropped the siblings off at home that evening, a beaming Faris threw open the door with “Did I beat them, how much did they weigh?”

Words could not describe the joy on his beaming face when he learnt that he had beaten both of his siblings.

National Commonwealth Communities Celebrations

A month flew by, and the most important day in the history of Grenadian junior fishing arrived with much excitement for the three team members. The Grenadian team was to be captained by Faris who although still a cadet, was fishing alongside his two siblings in the young junior's section.

Mum drove the team to the Shropshire/Staffordshire border. Armed with the colourful national flag, they arrived in good time to participate in the opening ceremony, which involved around 15 national communities. They appeared exceptionally smart in their t-shirts as they paraded the Grenadian flag, cheered on by their super proud mum. You can watch it here.

Drawn on pegs 77, 78 and 79 near to bridge 55, and with the Kenyan team for company, they began setting up their equipment as soon as they arrived at their pegs. The all-in was shouted and everyone fished in accordance with the three-meter rule for the first hour. Using pinkies, maggots and occasionally a small piece of chopped worm on the hook, all three caught gudgeon, roach, and perch steadily for the first hour.

Then it slowed down a bit. Right from the start, Faris demonstrated why he is currently the most skilled angler out of the three siblings. He was more composed, patient, and focused than his older siblings, keeping his eyes always fixed firmly on the float tip.

Silas and Sahan's attention periodically wavered; hence they missed several bites and bumped the occasional fish throughout the celebration. The encouraging thing is that I know the two older ones have so much potential to produce outstanding results in the future if they are prepared to meaningfully practice and further develop their talent and skills. Ultimately, only they can decide to do that though, and if they do, I will be there to help and support them to the best of my ability.

Team Grenada. 10th place Commonwealth Communities Celebration 2022

Team Grenada's biggest supporter on the day was their mum, who sat on the towpath feeding everyone delicious cakes and drinks. Back at the headquarters, it was confirmed that the team had finished in tenth spot out of the seventeen participating teams.

We would certainly have taken that result when they first picked up their poles earlier in the summer for it truly was a fantastic result for the lads who had begun their fishing journey just months previously. Team Grenada plan to be back for the 2023 Global Nations Celebration.

Should you have any Grenadian or other Caribbean island ancestry and would like to find out more about participating in fishing events like these, even if you are new to fishing, please do get in touch [email protected]

Last Edited: 04 January 2023

photo of a location on the canals
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