The Jamaican cricket landscape could experience vast improvement in young talent due in part to the introduction of the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB)/Jamaica Cricket Association (JCA) Digicel Grassroots cricket programme.
In its first year, the programme has already trained over 700 aspiring cricketers between the ages of 12 and 17 at eight training sessions held islandwide.
Launched in May 2012, the programme saw the participants learning the rudiments of the game and the history behind West Indies cricket.
"This initiative was very dear to us at Digicel because we recognise the importance of preserving this game, which is a huge part of our Jamaican culture," said Tahnida Nunes, Digicel sponsorship manager. "Making this investment now in our youth will undoubtedly help us to unearth young talents and start nurturing our next set of cricket legends - ultimately keeping the passion for cricket alive in Jamaica for years to come."
Nunes added: "We're very proud of all the youngsters who participated in what was a very successful and rewarding cricket festival and we look forward to reaping the benefits of this programme in the future."
Two fun days
At the end of the training sessions, the youngsters were given the opportunity to put their new-found knowledge to the test at two fun days, which were held just before the Christmas season.
The first fun day was held in Trelawny and saw participants from western parishes competing against each other. The second was held in Kingston where eastern parishes vied for the top spot. The participants battled for top individual awards such as Best Batsman, Best Bowler and Best Overall Player. Participants who received these top awards were rewarded with Digicel phones and call credit, in recognition of their outstanding performances.
Philip Service, WICB territorial development officer and Grassroots Cricket coordinator for Jamaica, was very pleased with the fun days.
"The fun days were very successful. Players were able to display skills learnt in a competitive game environment and were able to compare themselves with other youngsters from other parishes," Service stated.