West Indies United (WIU) has been in existence since 1981. This not-for-profit organization started out with a few West Indian guys, their wives and friends wanting to play soccer and socialize with each other.
Most of these guys were in the military and played for the Oceana Naval soccer team. They had no place to play soccer so they “hung out” at the Little Creek Naval Base and Lake Taylor High School after work, with hopes of getting an available soccer field. Transportation to their “new” hangout was very difficult. Some had to walk long distances in order to get to Lake Taylor while others spent hours begging for a ride. Besides, being in a new community did not help any. At first, they played soccer on the side while some took turns answering all phone calls at a now removed public phone booth at Lake Taylor High School.
As time went by, they developed ways of encouraging each other to come around and socialize at a field that they did not have and could not call “home.” Relatives and friends came when they could with hopes of seeing their favorite sport played by their countrymen and at times, women.
Communication also posed a problem since some had no telephones at their residence and others stayed on the naval ships on which they were assigned. On rainy days, you could imagine how difficult it was to get everyone there and on time to play a game. Not having the luxury of a cell phone did not diminish their desire to get together. In true West Indian fashion, word got around and more people started coming out to play the game they loved.
Soon, they were able to form a team and challenge those teams in cities that had other West Indians including Miami, Canada and New York.
Despite the problems of poor communication and lack of transportation, they had an undocumented vision to unite and play as a team. This is how the foundation for West Indies United (WIU) was laid and the vision set 32 years ago.
As the saying goes “the only thing that remains constant is change” and changes there have been. The old dependable phone booth at Lake Taylor High School is gone; the fields were re-arranged to accommodate the increasing need for the “new” sport. Members now use mobile phones to contact each other and transportation is no longer an issue. Membership continues to grow and new faces of fellow West Indians are seen at the monthly meetings which are held the 3rd Saturday of every month except December (or otherwise noted). Elections continue to be held annually.
In 2001 with a new management on board, West Indies United started making changes to the activities the organization was involved and started to add new ones. It was decided by the active membership to start offering scholarships and figure out a way of raising funds to pay for them. As with everything, that idea took a while to materialize. Other ideas were presented and voted upon by the membership. Some scholarships were given out; however, the money came form membership donations and that amount weren’t enough to pay for operating expenses and scholarships.
In around mid 2004, the organization decided to focus more on educational opportunities for high school graduating students as a way of giving back to the community. First, they started with one scholarship and then two.
Today, West indies United gives out three $500.00 scholarships to qualified High School Students!! At times, it is tough; however, the membership continue to go out and raise the necessary funds to meet our goal. There are no paid positions in WIU.
Through it all, WIU has survived as the leading West Indian Organizations in Hampton Roads.
Let’s look at some of the things this vibrant organization has been doing within the Hampton Roads community for over 32 years: WIU was the first Caribbean organization to bring carnival to the Hampton Roads area in 1995 & 1996. WIU established a scholarship fund to help our kids ease the financial burden of their first college experience; to date (Sept 2012, Scholarship are sent out September of each year)), over $10,800.00 has been awarded!!!. WIU Sponsors the end of the school year pool party and honor roll recognition for our school age kids. WIU sponsors an annual kids Christmas party and honor roll recognition for all kids. WIU sponsors an annual Awards Gala to present the 3 $500.00 Scholarships to qualified graduation high school students. This is our main focus and our goal to to finance the entire education career (4 years) of 3 students. See the requirements for the scholarships and photos on the scholarship page.
Call us, talk to us, join us, see our vision of “unity in our community”. Help us, volunteer your time and help us to raise funds to sponsor the education of the youth.
We believe in the preservation and education of our culture……………What about you?