Guyanese creates first in NFL

By Steve Ninvalle
Stabroek News
July 16, 2001

AS Guyanese sports figures take up prominent positions on the world stage Winston Alwyn October has become the latest addition to the list.

October recently became the first Guyanese to sign with the Washington Redskins and possibly the first from this country to play in the National Football League of the United States.

He signed with the Redskins in March of this year as a returner.

October who was born in Georgetown Guyana on July 12, 1976 and migrated to the USA three years later.

He is the son of former national defence Marshal and now first vice president of the Guyana Football Federation Winston Alwyn Callender and Margaret Gaskill (nee October), who is also a Guyanese.

The Guyanese was signed to the Redskins after turning in an impressive performance at a minicamp in March this year. He was one of 13 free agents invited to participate in the camp.

October was the only one of the group which included Rick Tuten, running back Greg Hill and former Redskins defensive tackle Doug Brown, three players with NFL experience, to be signed.

Despite standing only 5' 8" and weighing 170 pounds reports state that October has shown that he can hold his own. His coaches also feel that his size wouldn't be a barrier.

His two-year contract with the Redskins should see him earning the NFL minimum of US$209,000 this season once he gets on the roster.

October, who attended the University of Richmond made an impact as a kick returner when he joined Montreal Alouettes in the Canadian Football League and was credited with great speed and safe hands.

In his second year in the CFL, he was considered one of the most dangerous kick returners. The diminutive October scored three touchdowns on kick returns for Allouettes last season, one of which was a 111-yard run after a wide field goal.

"I feel proud to know that he is following in my footsteps and even taking it to a higher level. I believe that he is the first Guyanese to ever play for the Redskins," Callender told Stabroek Sports.

A well-rounded student, October was a member of his College relay and debating team. His father claimed that he once ran a 100 metre in 10.5 seconds.

"The mere fact that a Guyanese could make it to the top of an American sport should propel others to concentrate more on sport. I see this as another plus for sport in Guyana following on the footsteps of the world title victory by Andrew `Sixhead' Lewis.

The 25-year-old October has only returned to the land of his birth once since leaving in 1979 but his father has promised that barring that there is no obstruction relating to duties with his new club. He will attempt to persuade October to make another visit to his homeland soon.