- Antigua & St Lucian govts offer critical support
- over 100 elite Under 15 cricketers to benefit from skills development
St John’s, Antigua – Two historic West Indies Cricket Board Sandals Foundation Under 15 High Performance camps were launched in Antigua and St Lucia on Saturday morning.
The intense two week camps which will cater for the elite Under 15 cricketers from across the Caribbean is a collaborative effort between the West Indies Cricket Board, Sandals Foundation and the governments of Antigua and Barbuda and St Lucia.
Over 100 elite Under 15 cricketers from Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica, across the Leeward and Windward islands and Trinidad and Tobago have gathered at the Sir Vivian Richards Cricket Grounds and the Beausejour Cricket Ground for the training programme.
At the simultaneous opening ceremonies on Saturday morning officials in both countries expressed delight at the realization of the camps and thanked the organizers and sponsors for making a tangible commitment to the development of West Indies cricket.
Jeremy Jones, Regional Director of Sandals Resorts International, Eastern Caribbean commented: "The marriage you are witnessing here today is just the continuation of two big brands – Sandals and the West Indies Cricket – who are used to working with each other. We believe in the development of young people and embrace the idea of reaching out to as many partners to do so. So we also have to thank the governments of St. Lucia and Antigua and Barbuda for their outstanding contribution. What we have done together for young cricketers of the Caribbean is tremendous."
President of the WICB, Dr. Julian Hunte said, "We have spoken a lot in the region about of the development of cricket. We have a lot of opinions about what needs to be done to improve the game but we have not spent enough time in doing development."
"I commend Sandals and its Chairman, Mr. Gordon ‘Butch’ Stewart for his commitment to West indies Cricket. Sometimes we take these things for granted but this is the 11th year that Sandals is doing this and this is not ordinary. I will be contacting Mr. Stewart to have a conversation about deepening this relationship between his company and West Indies Cricket," Dr. Hunte revealed.
"All stakeholders, Governments, private sector and WICB have a pivotal role to play if we will continue to move forward," Dr. Hunte added.
Minister of Sports in St Lucia Leonard Montoute noted that the Sandals Cricket Academy (the forerunner of the WICB Sandals Foundation Under 15 High Performance camps) had produced several cricketers who are now playing on the regional circuit.
"Sandals cricket academy over the years have produced many of the outstanding St. Lucian cricketers, Johnson Charles, Keddy Lesporis and Dalton Polius all now playing for the Windwards. I am therefore pleased that WICB has seen it fit to join hands and embrace the great contribution we have made over the years to develop cricket," Minister Montoute said.
Minister of State within the Ministry of Sport, Local Government and Special Projects, Senator, The Honourable Winston Williams Jr declared the Antiguan camp open.
"I applaud the efforts of Sandals Foundation and WICB. We at the Ministry of Sports are pleased to be part of this triune partnership. An investment in our young men in the technical aspects of cricket as well as in personal development training will reap many rewards well into the future.
"Our come back as a region to the winners circle in cricket may not be soon, but if we as key partners collaborate and cooperate, plan and implement collectively with common goals and put our money where our mouth is, our success will be sure. I believe that we are slowly, but surely getting on the right path with programmes like this one But admittedly, more must be done," Minister Williams outlined.
President of the Antigua and Barbuda Cricket Association and WICB Director Enoch Lewis thanked the Sandals and the governments of Antigua and Barbuda and St Lucia for their contributions while urging the participants to make the best use of the camps.
"I want to urge you young cricketers who are the future of West Indies cricket to be disciplined and remain focused, to practice hard and learn from your coaches as they have your best interest at heart," Lewis said to the participants in Antigua.
President of the St Lucia Cricket Association, Julian Charles also praised Sandals.
"Sandals is saying that they cannot leave cricket development to the WICB and the governments but as a private sector company they have to get involved. They have thrown thousands of dollars behind this initiative," Charles said.
The Leeward Islands, Barbados and Jamaica Under 15 squads are at the Antigua camp along with select Antiguan Under 15 cricketers. Barbados national coach Emmerson Trotman is heading the coaching staff at the Sir Vivian Richards Cricket Grounds camp.
The Windward Islands, Guyana and Trinidad & Tobago Under 15 squads are at the St Lucia camp along with select St Lucian Under 15 cricketers.
The Under 15 squads recently competed in the WICB Regional Under 15 Tournament in Trinidad and Jamaica emerged winners. Windward Islands Head Coach Ian Allen is heading the coaching staff at the Beausejour camp.