Mon | Jul 15, 2019

JCA determined to increase popularity of cricket

Published:Saturday | December 15, 2018 | 12:47 AM
Garth Williams, communications and marketing officer, Jamaica Cricket Association, during a Gleaner Editors' Forum at The Gleaner's headquarters.
A group of children are seen playing a game of cricket on Gold Street in central Kingston in January 2012. The Jamaica Cricket Association is moving to increase the popularity of the sport across the island.
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In the 1970’s, the game of Cricket occupied a sacred place in the Jamaican public psyche, producing players which the populace regarded as heroes. Faced with the declining popularity of the sport in recent years, the Jamaica Cricket Association (JCA) has outlined an ambitious strategy to recapture the public imagination, while increasing spectator support for local cricket.

“It’s really about unearthing inspiring stories that will get people interested, stories from the cricketing fraternity. Sharing what the next generation looks like, the up-and-coming strong bowlers and batsmen, while pushing gender equality within the sport, so that more people can come along for the journey”, Garth Williams, Communications and Marketing Manager of the JCA told The Gleaner.

This underpins a three-pronged approach to increase the public’s engagement with local cricket, which includes tying cricket to other social events, community-based promotions, and a digital marketing campaign.

MORE PUBLIC INTEREST

Williams believes the opening of traditional cricketing facilities to commercial interests could generate more public interest in the sport, which can translate to greater popularity and spectator turnout for local games.

“We are considering commercialising Sabina Park in general, the inn, the lounge, the hosting of various entertainment events and sporting activities. It would be nice to come to Sabina Park and enjoy a great dining experience. We want to attract more people to the space. Once we increase the popularity of the venue, we believe it will catapult the popularity of the sport”, he said.

The JCA anticipates the Sabina Inn, a three-star accommodations facility, as well as the lounge will be fully operational by December 2019.

Williams added that the board was considering the introduction of other cricketing venues to lighter forms of commercial activity, with a stronger focus on community engagement, citing the Social Development Commission’s island-wide competition as a possible model they may emulate.

“The SDC’s island-wide competition has been pulling out a lot of people, so we have to learn from those types of examples. We will be looking at ways for our sponsors to engage with the surrounding communities to increase turnout”, he mentioned.

Williams noted that while globally, supporters’ interest was generally skewed toward the T20 format of the game, the JCA has no intentions of lessening its focus on the 50-over or two-day versions.

“We will not highlight one at the other’s expense because of the limited attention span of our audience. We are looking to provide entertainment straight across the board. Some will be interested in tests, others will not”, he added.

Maurice Silvera