U-19 cricket gets boost from Sandals
The beginning of the West Indies Test series against Pakistan on Friday, was also the start of another important milestone in the development of cricket in Jamaica.
The Jamaica Cricket Association announced at a press conference at Sabina Park, that Sandals Resorts International has committed to a three-year sponsorship of an Under-19 cricket competition and academy. Rainforest Seafoods and Wisynco have also committed their support to the initiative.
Guest speaker at the launch Sports Minister Olivia Grange, said there is a need for programmes such as this one.
"We have seen a steady decline in performances especially at the youth level, but as a national team, we always want to be the winners. We won't accept anything else but being number one", she said.
Sandals Resorts International's director, corporate services, Jeremy Jones reiterated the need for corporate support of the sport in Jamaica.
"Sandals Resorts believes in youth development through sports and has graduated close to 1,000 young cricketers through our academy in the eastern Caribbean. It is with tremendous pride that we bring this programme to our home in Jamaica."
The competition will see four zoned teams, Eastern Flames, Western Heats, Northern Lights and Southern Sparks, competing over a four-week period. All matches will be played on Saturdays, beginning June 17. At the end of the series, the best players will be selected for an intense two week academy to be held at Sabina Park.
President of the Jamaica Cricket Association, Wilford 'Billy' Heaven said the importance of the competition to Jamaican cricket could not be overstated.
"This tournament will create a critical path for youngsters to play for Jamaica and hopefully the West Indies.
Under-19 cricket is the next step to playing Senior Cup cricket and then Jamaica and the West Indies," Heaven said.