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AS BAJAN AS FLYING FISH: Kicking for Barbados

rhondathompson, [email protected]

AS BAJAN AS FLYING FISH: Kicking for Barbados

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My name is David Castagne and I’m on a football scholarship to an American university. I have two older sisters. It’s good being the youngest child and only boy. I’m known as the Gold Bead at home.My mother is Grenadian and my father, Trinidadian. So I’m a CSME youth. I don’t have the thickest Bajan accent because I don’t hear it at home, I guess.I was raised Catholic but more consider myself a Christian. I go to church more in America. It gets me through the week. I’d really like to bring church to the beach.I started surfing when I was 11. My sister’s boyfriend gave me a board and I’d go catch some waves every day in summer. My friend Jonathan and I would hitch a ride with a parent going to work, so we’d get to the beach really, really early. We wouldn’t try to find a ride home until 1 p.m., and only because we were starving. I went to Queen’s. It took a good hour to get to school but it was worth it. Queen’s had a football-specific field –no cricket pitch in the middle. It’s the only one I’ve played on in Barbados that is for football only, nothing else.I eat a lot! My favourite meal is a typical Oistins dinner, a $20 plate of food – grilled fish, macaroni pie, rice, cole slaw. I’m taking proper Bajan pepper sauce this trip. I had to make do with Tabasco sauce last semester. Just isn’t the same.I’m a West Indies supporter and that will never change. I was lucky enough, when I was five, the last time we were world champions, to see us fight to win that test match against Australia when Brian Lara scored that 150 not out. I’ll watch an over or two of a Test now, if it’s not too painful.I love music. I’m almost always plugged into my iPod. Even when I’m studying, if I’m just doing “automatic” kind of stuff. I’m a big Bob Marley fan. I came up in the era of songs, not albums, because you can download one at a time. But my favourite album is still Bob Marley’s Exodus. My Dad had quite a few LPs so I’ve actually heard a record being played. Not many of my friends have.I’ve never come across sharp racial offence from anyone. At the heart of it, most Bajans are pretty regular people and all classes will mingle together.I really don’t see race when I see people. I’m a Bob Marley fan: “Until the colour of a man’s skin, is of no more significance than the colour of his eyes.”If I’m hanging out with white people, I’ll be called white by black people. But if I’m hanging out with black people, I’ll be called red. I’m not white or black, just in the middle and I’m happy to be that way.I’m in Arkansas so, at my school, there’s less than ten black people. Counting me. It just shows how ridiculous racial prejudice is, that I could be white in Harbour Lights and black in Arkansas. The Ku Kluk Klan headquarters is two hours away from school. We had a swastika burnt in our field because we have black players. A Bajan guy who went to the same school before me, was beaten up by white supremacists. With my Dad’s profession [soccer coach], it was great for him to have a son. I’ve spent a lot of time with my father, just “the boys” doing things together. I was born in 1990 and went to my first football practice in ‘94. The longest time I’ve not played football competitively since then is when I got injured last year and didn’t play for six months.I only wear Adidas Predator boots. It’s what my favourite players wear. They look really good, fit me well and they’ve never blistered me. That’s a winning combination.I won’t say I’m a gourmet chef but I won’t starve. I’ll eat peanut butter and jelly. If not scrambled eggs. One or the other. But not together.Tearing a ligament isn’t really fun. I was in our first really big game and I was playing my best game of the season. I was running past a guy, changed direction quickly and heard “Pax!” and felt fire in my knee. I hope to be ready for season at the end of the month. Pre-season starts today.Football in the USA is at a higher level than in Barbados. Not necessarily because they have players who are far superior but because the organisation and intensity is a lot higher. I’ve always been the smallest guy on the field and have never been intimidated. A lot of my game comes from my effort and determination and not so much my physical presence.Captaining Barbados at the U-17 World Cup qualifiers is my most memorable moment. The honour of leading my country out, I’ll never forget that. We drew in Trinidad, against Trinidad. Trinidad went all the way to the World Cup finals so that was like a win for us.To me, a Bajan is someone who can appreciate good cricket, who likes “Sunday food” and social order. Bajans don’t like too much bassa-bassa. Barbados is, to me, sand, sea, sugar cane, rum and good parties. Despite my multi-cultural heritage, I wouldn’t live in Trinidad or Grenada before Barbados. I would tell anyone in the world I live in the best place in the world, will argue it hands-down every time.