On the 15th December St. Vincent and the Grenadines saw one of its sons of the soil elevate to yet another height becoming a Doctor in Science. Dr. Denis Byam who hails from humble beings competed for a Doctorate in Science in the field of Physical Rehabilitation in Neurological Disorders in Havana Cuba.
Byam who is a Vincentian Sporting Ambassador and a Physiotherapist by trade has a long history of educational advances and continues his part on excellence. Dr. Byam holds degrees in Sports Science, Physiotherapy, a Master’s in Physical Therapy, and now Ph.D. in Physical Rehabilitation.
A former national youth athlete, national youth footballer, national cricketer, Windward Island youth cricket captain, and senior professional cricketer. Byam is St. Vincent and the Grenadines Cricket Association INC. 2nd Vice President, a position he holds for the last 10 years, he is also a member of the National Council of Sports Board. Dr. Byam worked with the Windward Islands cricket team for several years and was appointed the West Indies Cricket Team Physiotherapist in July 2019 a position he currently holds.
Dr. Byam is the owner of Byam’s Physical Therapy Services in Arnos Vale since 2010 and has touched the lives of locals, regionally and professionals worldwide. Vincentians and International Sports personalities have shared experiences and raised their glasses in honor of his achievements and ANN spoke to the country’s newest scientist and is happy to share with you our interview.
Byam is a former Kingstown Preparatory School, Grammar School, and Community College school student whose motto is “Hard Work and Dedication Brings Success”. Ann describes Dr. Byam as humble, disciplined, and a true visionary.
ANN: How do you feel with your latest accomplishment?
Dr. Byam: It is a proud moment. This has been a long road of hard work and sacrifice. I dedicate this to my son, family, and friends who have supported and stood by me through this journey. And I am grateful to my colleagues at Cricket West Indies and Windwards Cricket for their cooperation over the years.
ANN: Where did it all started for you?
Dr. Byam: Injuries, I was playing for St. Vincent National Cricket team and played in pain for almost a year when I was contracted in North Mymms Cricket Club in Hertfordshire England. I arrived in England with an ankle injury and was sent to a physiotherapist who worked with me and in 4 weeks my pains were gone. After that experience, I decided to play cricket for 1 year then look to start studies in the field. It worked out for me and I am happy to serve people from all works and any nation.
ANN: What is special about your field?
Dr. Byam: To me, everything. It’s life, my field has a lot to do with how the body functions. I started out because of sports injuries but during my Masters, I worked with a lot of patients with neurological disorders, who couldn’t move and suffered injuries that affected the brain. When someone say to you that they don’t think they would ever be able to walk again and then you help them to walk against the odds, that’s absolutely rewarding. Getting an athlete back on the park swiftly to compete is magical but assisting someone to function again is astonishing. To reintegrate someone back in society is one of the most important objective of physical rehabilitation.
ANN: What was your last research about?
Dr. Byam: My thesis was based on designing programs using various assessments, methods, principles in rehabilitation in neurological disorders. The process allowed me to evaluate theories and methods which help to rehabilitate these patients.
ANN: What was most challenging completing your studies?
Dr. Byam: I suspect you are speaking of my doctorate. The current challenges of the pandemic, traveling to Cuba, the lockdown and at one point my studies were at a standstill, which was a bit frustrating for a while. I remember arriving in Cuba to deliver a presentation and after 2 weeks’ preparation, the country was closed down. The language barrier was also a challenge, I completed two degrees, a master’s and a Ph.D. in the Spanish language. This meant dual-language each time. Defending researches, exams and oral exams before a Spanish-speaking tribunal of Doctors is no easy feat.
ANN: You spent many years in Cuba what will you say to the people of Cuba?
Dr. Byam: Cuba is a special place. My educational journey as an adult has mainly been in Cuba. My BSc started in 2002 after getting a scholarship from the Government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines and continued with post-grad studies. Cuba has educated millions across the world. As a Caribbean Island, it shows no matter how small you are you can achieve great heights regardless of any restriction. I say thanks to Cuba, Fidel, and his vision. I also thank my professors for their guidance over the years.
ANN: What’s next in your journey?
Dr. Byam: Continue to develop and assist in local research to help prevent non communicable diseases in the country. Professionally, I would like to continue on the international sporting arena with cricket for a few more years. I still think I have a lot of contribute. I also have couple of business ventures in the pipeline. So I imagine my upcoming years to be me advancing my physiotherapy practice.
ANN: How is the experience working with West Indies Cricket team?
Dr. Byam: I am enjoying my work with the team and have excellent relations with the management and staff. When I started playing cricket for grammar school, I never thought of a role like this in the team. I played a lot of cricket and my goal was to make the team but I guess my calling was in a different area. Cricket means a lot to Caribbean people because it’s the strongest unifying bridge we have as a region. To contribute to our players is very fulfilling. The team had a disappointing World Cup but had success in recent times. The future is bright and I am sure the team will gain international dominance with time. The talent is overwhelming and we are seeing some good signs. In sports, talent is one aspect but success is achieved with additions, good physical preparation, discipline, and mental strength.
ANN: With your work load how do you relax?
Dr. Byam: Good question. I hardly get a chance for family and friends with the many things I am involved in, life is short we have to make the best of it. However, whenever I am home, my favorite place is Troumaca where my family is from, both parents. I enjoyed going to the mountains and Troumaca bay where we spent a lot of time. I went to school and lived in Frenches during primary and secondary school but Troumaca is home for me.
ANN: What do you say to young Vincentians in sport:
Dr. Byam: There is a great future in Sport, not only as an athlete but as a professional. Hard work and dedication bring success, a motto I built my world around from my days in grammar school. Plan what you want to do and work to it in stages and don’t make anyone derail you off your part.
ANN : What’s your thought of sport development in SVG?
Dr. Byam: I think we can achieve so much more than we have. Firstly, we can dedicate one of our many secondary schools as a school of sports. This will allow athletes in all sports to build that base that professionals in sport need, regardless of whether it’s a playing athlete or a budding sports administrator. I would love to see the many sportsmen and women who benefited from scholarships over the past years get involved in local sports organizations. We need to build community-based sporting clubs that we can start from the grassroots and field that connect as a community.
ANN : What’s your closing words ?
Dr. Byam: Everyone can have a second chance in life, regardless of whether you are suffering from pain, lack of functioning, or experiencing an interrupted career. Life is a journey, which requires adaption and processes that can be achieved by anyone. Climb over the hurdles and be flexible in your thought. Thanks