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Empire of Dreams
On any given day, Damian Prescod can be found casually walking through the daunting neighbourhoods of Nelson Street and Sea Lots in Port-of-Spain. The successful yet humble self-made entrepreneur mingles openly with youth many would consider “ghetto.” And while some close to him have protested against his stance, his goal is simple. “I want to give them a second chance to make it in life.”
Prescod’s style is translating lip service into tangible action.
Through the Portmore Football Team, based in Nelson Street, he uses sport to reach troubled youth, some of whom have not always walked the straight and narrow path. His plan to keep them off the streets has so far proven a success. “The guys, who are around 17-27 tell me that if football can take them far, then they are definitely willing to put down the guns. Nobody gets up one day and says, ‘I want to be a bandit’. Circumstances end up changing some of us. They say they want somebody to care.”
No simple task
Prescod admitted, however, that going into the communities to mentor the youth was no easy task.
“At first they didn’t know how to take it. They thought I was a cop but then they realised that a cop would not have two Nike ticks on his eyebrows, so they kinda relaxed then,” he revealed, laughing. The 32-year-old has since gained their trust, as they have seen first hand his passion and commitment to their cause. “Now, I consider them my friends. They tell me about their dreams and about what they wanted to be when they grew up. But when they have no food on the table and a baby to take care of, they say the easy way out was to sell drugs.”
Prescod stated that if given the opportunity, many of the nation’s youth could achieve their full potential.
He said his company, Prescod Security and Associates Ltd, would provide financial support to the footballers, and while he didn’t mind digging deep into his own pockets to finance the team, he would welcome any assistance from government as well as corporate T&T. “My mission is to get them into the Pro League. We have good footballers but they need that exposure.” He added, “We believe that this thing could go really far. Our young people are looking for a way out of crime and this could be it.”
Empire of dreams
Prescod’s ambitions do not stop there. His recently launched Arima-based company, The Empire of Dreams, also aims to provide an outlet for youth to hone their skills. “Whether you’re a musician or an athlete we will work with you. It’s all about providing that opportunity,” he explained. The 5’11 Malick Senior Comprehensive alumnus knows what it’s like to struggle. Leaving his comfort zone at the age of 17 to pursue a professional career in football in the US, he saw his dreams crumble after injuring his ankle, which never fully recovered. “Everything went downhill from there,” he said. Returning to Trinidad seven years later, Prescod said he had to go “job hunting” to make ends meet.
“It was real tough. I worked as a security guard for various places, running down bandits and shoplifters. For me, it was like a fall from grace. There were times I didn’t go home for about three days because when I left work, I would work on a construction site to make extra money,” he recalled. “So, I know hard work. That’s one of the main reasons why I identify with these guys.”
Stating that he sees himself as a role model, the Malabar resident believes that his purpose in life is to help make a difference in the lives of others. And having recently completed his autobiography, titled, A Race Against Time, Prescod, who also hopes to soon launch his own clothing line, is doing just that.
“It’s like that famous saying, ‘Ask not what your country can do for you, but ask what you can do for your country’,” he said. “I have to mention Chavaun John, Stefan Ramdial and Berky, who are also helping to make a difference in these communities. As my deceased brother Erwin used to say, ‘Some dreams are so worthy, it’s glorious even to fail’.”
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