Antiguan official lauds WICB Sandals Foundation Under 15 High Performance Camp initiative

St John’s, Antigua – A senior official within the Office of the Minister of State of Antigua and Barbuda has lauded the West Indies Cricket Board Sandals Foundation Under 15 High Performance Camps.

Anne Jonas – Special Projects Coordinator in the Office of the Minister of State within the Office of the Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, said that the foresight displayed by the Sandals Foundation, WICB and the governments of St Lucia and Antigua and Barbuda will help to strengthen the future of cricket in the Caribbean.

"The first year (of the camp in Antigua was 2010) was basically one where interested young people involved in cricket were able to be a part of the program. But the second year they (the WICB) were looking at selected individuals who had shown significant potential to be Under 15 national cricketers. So, they were either emerging or already national cricketers," Jonas explained of how the Under 15 High Performance Camp evolved in Antigua.

Jonas herself was one of the personalities behind the WICB Sandals Foundation Under 15 High Performance Cricket Camp, during its idea phase some four years ago.

For three years since, the Camp is operated through a multi-stakeholder commitment that includes the Governments of Antigua and Barbuda and St. Lucia and the Sandals Foundation.

Jonas cites the likes of Kenny Benjamin – the former Antigua and Barbuda, Leeward Islands and West Indies fast bowler – who is now responsible for Community Youth Sports Development Initiative in the local Ministry of Sports, and Dominic Fedee – the Regional Public Relations Manager for Sandals who had expressed an interest in facilitating a camp similar to what was being executed in St. Lucia for 13 years prior.

The fact that Youth Development formed part of her office’s five-year plan, which ends in 2014, Jonas said taking the idea to task was an easy one.

But this was before the WICB came on board, which meant it was just the Government of Antigua and the Sandals Foundation who brought the idea to life for the first year.

"We were able to input quite a bit in terms of our coaches. We asked them (Sandals) to assist us in providing the coaches who were coming from overseas. We also asked the then management of the Sir Vivian Richards Cricket Stadium to facilitate the initiative. That was four years ago and since then, with the WICB, it has developed into a very wonderful camp," Jonas said.

She added that with the input of the WICB, the focus of that initiative has since shifted towards the development of national athletes to compete on the regional stage. This means that countries like Antigua and Barbuda would no longer be faced with the challenge of scouting for players for regional matchups. Instead they, like other participating countries, now have the option of molding players from an early stage.

The Antigua Government, according to the Coordinator, injects in excess of EC$75,000 towards the hosting of the camp, which is based at the Sir Vivian Richards Cricket Stadium. The St Lucia leg is based at the Beausejour Cricket Ground.

"We believe very strongly that the development of our student athletes is an important aspect of a sustainable development plan for sports in Antigua and Barbuda and across the Caribbean," Jonas said.

Jonas also noted that four Antiguan and Barbudan students are currently at the University of the West Indies (UWI) Cave Hill Campus as a result of another collaborative effort to secure scholarships through a partnership arrangement between the WICB, Leeward Island Cricket Association (LICA) and UWI.

The WICB Sandals Foundation Under 15 High Performance Camp 2013 commenced on August 21st and concludes on August 27th .