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Making the disclosure at the launching of the fourth annual National Secondary Schools Under-19 tournament, jointly sponsored by the Board, the Ministry of Education and the National Sports Commission (NSC) last Friday at the GCB’s Regent Road office, president Chetram Singh pointed out that: ”we are hoping to cover all aspects - kiddies, primary and secondary next year so that cricket will be played in all schools.
Singh said the GCB would start by staging a competition, either this term or the next for children who have been provided with Kiddies School equipment from the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB).
This year’s Under-19 tournament is scheduled for sometime this week with the Ministry of Education, for the first time providing the balls - a gesture for which Singh said he’s grateful.
The GCB is hoping to complete the competition by the end of November.
According to Singh, acquiring balls has been a problem over the years with several of the schools not being in sound financial position to purchase them, hence some schools pulled out at various stages of the competition while some did not compete at all
The GCB president said he was delighted that the Ministry of Education saw it fit to increase its sponsorship to include balls for the competition.
Apart from making the balls available, the ministry will also be providing added sponsorship for the competition, Singh explained
The NSC will be adding its input - minimum of $500 000 while the GCB will also chip in.
As usual, the competition will be played in the three counties and divided into districts and areas with a minimum of 75 per cent attendance required during the school year for students to be qualified to play.
Georgetown, with some 30 schools, is considered the most important area in terms of the number of schools, Singh disclosed.
The GCB, Singh said, is hoping to use several more grounds this year especially in Georgetown and the new ones earmarked are the YMCA, the Guyana Teachers Union, National Insurance Scheme and the Carifesta Sports Complex.
Should any ground in Georgetown need rehabilitation, the GCB will undertake that responsibility, Singh pointed out, allowing the competition to run a bit more smoothly.
Singh alluded to the fact that several of the grounds will be used for athletics at this time of the year while some will also be used by their members for practice sessions and there will be competition for the venues, thus the additional grounds will definitely assist.
Procurement Officer in the Ministry of Education, Lenox Bobb, who was present to hand over the more than 1 000 balls, said his ministry was very pleased to be associated with funding the purchase to the value of $1M, in the interest of cricket and sports generally. He pledged that the Ministry of Education will continue to support sports as far as its resources can offer.
Bobb also disclosed that the Ministry of Education has just received some sample shipments of cricket gear and equipment, including helmets, bats, batting and wicket-keeping gloves, pads, and elbow guards and it will be sending them to the GCB for evaluation.
Based on the evaluation, the ministry will then be able to decide whether they are suitable and for what age group. Purchases will then be made, based on resources with the regional administrations and Georgetown.
GCB Cricket Development Officer Clyde Butts commented that apart from aiming to stage the competitions mentioned by Singh, the Board is also hoping to add coaching to the schools’ programme. This area has been lax for a little while.
“We have actually started our coaching programme, with Reon King and Colin Stuart doing stints with the fast bowlers while Neil McGarrell and myself will be dealing with the spinners and Ravindranauth Seeram and others will be contacted to assist with the batting,” the former Guyana and West Indies off-spinner pointed out.
Efforts will also be made to get some of our international stars to help out in the schools, Butts said.
Chairman of the Cricket Development Officer Claude Raphael described the gesture of providing the balls as a welcome one from the Ministry of Education, saying it will go a long way in providing the springboard for cricket in schools.
GCB vice-president Alvin Johnson was also happy that the Ministry of Education has seen it fit to get more involved.
As regards the equipment, Johnson said if you are going to have a successful programme, it is absolutely important that you have proper equipment and grounds.
GCB Public Relations Officer Terry Holder chaired the press briefing and launching.