Chief Cricket Development Officer of the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) Dr. Michael Seepersaud says that the WICB has a mandate to develop cricket at all levels and that this could be done through the kiddies programme.
Seepersaud made this disclosure on Monday when the Bank of Nova Scotia renewed its sponsorship of the West Indies Kiddies Cricket Programme for an additional five years.
According to Seepersaud, over 600 schools and 7500 kids are now a part of the programme which has close to 1200 coaches.
The programme encourages both males and females to participate but Seepersaud lamented that no girls were at the function a fact he described as not good enough.
Seepersaud declared that the game must be introduced on a gender neutral basis as well as provision made for persons with disabilities.
He informed that a manual was designed to complement the existing one in the Ministry of Education.
Representing the Bank of Nova Scotia at the launching was Country Manager, Farried Sulliman. Sulliman said the bank believes strongly in supporting communities whereever they are based and that he was delighted on behalf of his organization to speak about their continued support of cricket in the West Indies.
He said Scotia Bank has been part of the Caribbean community for over a century adding: “We are proud to say that the continued success of the bank can be attributed to the fact that we support the communities where we do business in ways that are meaningful to people.”
He disclosed that since the bank opened its first office in Kingston, Jamaica in 1889, it has been behind a wide range of important local and regional initiatives, among them the annual “Terry Fox Run” in Guyana, which the bank has sponsored and actively participated in over the last four years.
“As the exclusive sponsor of kiddies cricket we have distributed equipment kits and coaching manuals to schools across the Caribbean since 1999 and the response has been overwhelming,” Sulliman declared.
“What we are doing stretches beyond sport; this is a pastime that is part of our culture and traditions and because of this the contract has been renewed for five years.”
He revealed that the sponsorship of the programme goes to another `level’ with the launching of - “Clarence goes to school” - a programme that incorporates cricket into the primary school curriculum.
Sulliman said that the bank intends to work closely with the Ministry of Education, the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) and the Guyana Cricket Board (GCB) for the necessary support and approval to get the programme into the school system.
The manager stated: “We are especially proud of this programme, not only because it exemplifies our commitment to education, but because it preserves a heritage that has been so essential to the building of a culture in the West Indies.”
He added... “by passing this tradition along to the younger generation, we hope to encourage young kids to become more disciplined and to have confident traits they will be able to draw upon later in life.”
Chetram Singh, the Guyana Cricket Board president, thanked Scotia Bank for sponsoring the competition and also for renewing its sponsorship for the programme to continue.
According to Singh, the programme was meant to bring cricket back to the schools. He said that the programme was doing well and mentioned that some of the cricketers who were in the programme may eventually get into the West Indies team.
Singh stated that the new five year programme will be expanded. He mentioned that the programme is totally sponsored by the bank and that the cricket authorities are grateful for the assistance. He added that the WICB believed they were custodians of a rich heritage and that preserving that heritage is important.
The programme concluded with the presentation of gear to representatives of the four schools present.
Those schools which received gear were Greenwich Park Primary, Sophia Primary, Timehri Primary and La Premiere Academy. The other eight schools that will be a part of the programme are Salem Primary, Philadelphia Primary, St. Phillips Primary, Zealand Primary, Carlton Hall Primary, De Hoop Primary, Rosignol Primary and Belladrum Primary.