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Nation’s youth begin training in cricket

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Tomorrow, Saturday, April 2nd, a number of the nation’s young cricketers will begin training as part of the West Indies Cricket Board Youth Development Programme which is also known as the “WICB Digicel Grassroots Programme”.{{more}}

On Saturday, March 26th, members of the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Cricket Association along with Digicel officials launched the Grassroots Cricket Programme in St. Vincent and the Grenadines at Frenches House. The launch was held simultaneously in other countries, including Antigua (at the Antigua Recreation Ground), St Lucia (the Beausejour Cricket Grounds) and in Nevis at the Elquemedo Willett Park. The programme is a partnership between the WICB and Digicel which provides training for young cricketers from ages 12 to17 years. The Grassroots Programme prepares young cricketers for their entry into competitive cricket by providing them with the necessary training to develop their cricketing skills and physical and mental preparedness for the game.

Addressing the gathering at the local launch, Public Relations Officer of Digicel OECS Jerry George said that Digicel’s sponsorship of this programme will go a long way in helping bring back West Indies cricket to its glory days. He stressed that apart from providing money to the organizers, Digicel is also providing the proper gear for the youngsters.

“While persons are asking why Digicel continues to sponsor the West Indies Cricket team, Digicel is still proud to sponsor West Indies Cricket as the game is close to the people”, said George, who added that if a programme like this was in place before, “we would not be going through the slump we are now”.

George said that while things will take a while to grow, he is confident that in a few years the youngsters from the programme will take over.

“We have a commitment through the grassroots programmme to add to the value; some people say walk away but we say no, we are going to dig deeper and by digging deeper we are going to invest in the youngsters because we want to see West Indies Cricket back to its former days of glory,” said the PRO.

He added that during the two-year agreement between the WICB and Digicel in relation to the Grassroots Programe, just over 2600 youths will participate, “and if 10 percent become professionals we will be in a good position”. George added that while the 12 months training is seemingly short, “a lot can be learnt”.

George also revealed that this programme expands on the fundamentals learnt in the Scotia Kiddy Cricket Programme. The Interactive programme gives the youths the opportunity to be selected to their national cricket teams. He encouraged the youngsters to practice and take the training seriously as it needs “10,000 hours of doing something in order to become a star”.

“We are demonstrating our leadership in helping strengthen West Indies Cricket,” stressed George.

Also Speaking at the launch of the local programme, President of the SVG Cricket Association Julian Jack said that the injection from Digicel and the WICB is doing something special for the youngsters. He used the opportunity to thank the coaches while noting that a few local coaches have been doing a similar programme. Jack added that the grassroots programme has come at a critical time as the senior West Indies team is not doing so well at tournaments. “We can get back to that stage if we continue to use funds by sponsors to do training”, said Jack who adde: “I hope we get a number of rising stars from this programme”.

Among the coaches were Samantha Lynch, Deighton Butler, Juliana Nero, Bertram Stapleton and Irvin Warrican.

Education Officer with responsibility for Physical Education and Sports Elford Charles said that the Ministry of Sports is happy for what he describes as “a developmental programme”.

“When we think about development we are talking about looking at the whole aspect of the individual. The ministry is committed to partnering with the local cricket association in terms of the development of local cricket and West Indies cricket in the long term. We expect that the grassroots programme will earn the youngsters much needed areas of development, including mental and physical development,” said Charles.

Charles’ idea was supported by Director of Physical Education and Sports Nelson Hillocks. Hillocks said that the programme will build the capacity of our youth cricketer, adding that this sort of proactive development “will impact on the entire interested youth population”. He is hoping that the programme can be expanded to the Grenadines.

Territorial Development Officer for the Windward Islands Cricket and Development Officer for SVG Cricket Irvin Warrican said that cricket requires a good base, “so this is a good start”. He commended the WICB and Digicel for coming up with the programme.

“I am calling on all the young boys and girls to come out to play, and I am hoping to attract about 400 youngsters,” said Warrican who added: “We all have a role to play in the development, so once we work together it will be a success”. He added that he is hoping that the parents can get involved as they, too, have a significant role to play.

The programme which will also deal with the social development and history as it relates to cricket will seek to involve the parents as, according to Warrican, “The parents have a significant role to play”.

He added: “Within the next five to ten years from now, we will see the benefits and cricket will get back to where it was”.

The first set of training sessions will be held in Buccament and North Union. Warrican said that a cluster will also in the near future be placed at Arnos Vale.

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