Forging a sports, education relationship Across the Board Ė from the West Indies Cricket Board
Stabroek News
April 28, 2002

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MANY people believe that the idea of mixing education and sports should never take place and that an individual must overlook all extra curricular activities if they are to succeed in the classroom.

While the West Indies Cricket Board does believe that in many instances sacrifices must be made for an individual to excel academically, we still think there is a place sports can play in the development of the individual.

When we look at some of the leading sports personalities around the world, we can look into their backgrounds and see that many of them were outstanding in the classroom, but were still able to be equally competitive in their chosen sporting pursuit.

In North America, for example, there is a healthy marriage of sports and education. There is a system in place at many schools that if an individual fails to acquire a set grade in the classroom they will find it hard to make any of the sports teams at their educational institution.

They have seen the benefits of such a system. Many of their sports personalities have not only been outstanding ambassadors in their sporting pursuit, but many have been able to make the transition into the corporate world and have made great contributions.

Itís a win-win situation for everyone. Thatís why the WICB is looking to put some emphasis on the development of a stronger relationship between education and sports through a number of initiatives.

A few years ago, we identified that too many of our young cricketers had deficiencies in their educational background. While we were not trying to ostracise anyone, we felt that though our mandate is principally to promote cricket that we could not do this at the expense of helping the individual.

In our cricket example, we can see how education can play a vital part. After all, Mathematics is needed to work out complex run rates, English is needed to communicate to the media, Geography can help in understanding the weather, History can give a greater appreciation for the traditions of the game, Science can explain why the ball moves the way it does in the air. Get the picture.

Thatís why we feel it is important to develop this relationship between education and sports. We have offered assistance to many of our young cricketers to help remedy the situation and we are satisfied with the results because the education they get in the classroom will help to give them the edge on the field of play.

For example, the Scotiabank Kiddy Cricket initiative is only one of the projects in which we hope to use sports, in this case cricket, as a teaching aid. One of the objectives of the programme is to get cricket back in schools, but one of the spin-offs is that children will begin to see that sports is part of their education.

Another example in which we have tried to enhance the relationship between education and sports is at Shell Cricket Academy of the St. Georgeís University in Grenada. Not only do the entrants spend time honing their cricket skills, but there are parts of the programme that focus on such areas as communication skills and information technology.

One relationship the WICB is hoping to develop in the coming years is with the University of the West Indies. As we have outlined, we do not believe that an individual should have to sacrifice their sporting talent to pursue their academic qualifications.

We are hoping in the near future that the university and the WICB can develop a programme that will be of mutual benefit to all concerned. We have known of many talented cricketers who have side stepped sports for the pursuit of a tertiary education. That has also impacted on our talent pool and we want to rectify that problem as soon as possible.

The WICB takes its responsibility as guardians of the game of cricket in the Caribbean very seriously. We will continue to look for every opportunity to strengthen its appeal, but it will not be at the expense of our players and their education.