Richard Bryan, Gleaner Writer
Even at the tender age of 10, aspiring female cricket star, Mahalia Morgan, dreams of one day representing the West Indies team.
Making the Jamaica team one day does not seem to be in doubt, as she has been given the thumps up as a genuine talent to be developed by none other than the current Jamaica female coach, Cleon Smith.
Morgan, along with 54 other cricketers of similar age, were part of a one-week Kiddy Cricket camp organised by the West Indies Cricket Board and sponsored by Scotiabank. The camp was hosted in Manchester, with hostel at the Kendal camp site and cricket activities at the nearby Kirkvine Sports Club.
Morgan was one of five females at the camp, but her presence was unique. She was not selected as part of the original group, but was allowed through a special request by her cousin, Nkrumah Bonner, who has represented the West Indies in T20 cricket, as well as Jamaica, having been a staple in the Combined Colleges and Campuses team that participates in the regional cricket tournaments.
Morgan does not currently reside in Jamaica as she now lives with her father, Nkrumah Morgan, in the Cayman Islands, where he works.
Her father has a strong background in local cricket. He was selected Coach of the Year in 2008, after guiding Dinthill to the semi-finals of the Headley Cup. He was also Bonner's coach at Dinthill.
Following the conclusion of the camp on Friday, Morgan was given a special trophy for being the camp's best female cricketer, as well as a bat after being adjudged one of the best batters.
Still very shy, she mustered enough courage to speak of her love for the game.
"Yes, I love it like it's my own game," Mahalia told The Gleaner.
She lists former West Indies captain Chris Gayle, star all-rounder Stafanie Taylor, and Bonner as her favourite cricketers.
She remembers her interest in playing the sport began seriously at age four, when she watched Bonner play for Dinthill in 2008.
Her father is her main coach and drives her interest. In Cayman, she represents her school, Red Bay Primary, and also plays for an adult cricket female side, Islanders.
Red Bay reached the final of the Cayman Primary schools' competition, but Mahalia had to miss that game to return to Jamaica for the holidays.
Asked whether Mahalia's cricket development was best served by staying in Cayman, the older Nkrumah said: "In terms of facilities and training, yes, but culture, no. That's why we are in dialogue with Mr Smith (Cleon) to have her drafted into the development programme."
Chief coordinator for the Jamaican leg of Kiddy Cricket, Phillip Service, said they made the right decision to include Mahalia, based on the awards she received.
"The camp is for the best primary-school cricketers from across the island, and I have no doubt she is one of them," he said. "They should keep her in cricket."
By the look of things, they won't have many problems doing that - a move which will only strengthen her goal of following in the footsteps of one her favourite cricketers - Taylor - and playing for the West Indies.