Scotia banking on Kiddies Cricket
Livingston Scott, Gleaner Writer
ScotiaBank Jamaica strengthened their support of and increased their investment in local youth cricket by expanding the 2015 ScotiaBank/West Indies Cricket Board (WIBC) Kiddies Cricket programme, which was launched at Sabina Park yesterday.
The tournament, which started on Thursday and will run over the next two months, has received twice the amount of schools than the previous year, up from 70 to 140 schools, with more than 8,000 boys and girls set to participate. The amount of coaches has also improved to 14, with one assigned to each parish.
Also added to the programme is a special skills competitions to help hone the basic bowling and batting techniques of the youngsters. It's also compulsory to have four girls (two pairs) in every team, and they are only allowed to bowl to each other.
Monique Todd, vice-president for marketing, public and corporate affairs, told The Gleaner that Scotiabank is committed to developing young people and cricket throughout the region, as the game is an important part of West Indian culture.
'Cricket is a very intrinsic part of our culture, and one of the goals we want to bring back is the love for cricket on a wide scale. It is very important that it remains a very important part of our culture, and that's what we are hoping to achieve in the Kiddies programme.
We are very pleased with the success of the programme, as we see the benefits. The youths are rounded, disciplined and hard-working, and this is about developing the future youths of Jamaica, and that's why, this year, we are expanding it. We have seen the success and it's just a matter of how can we do more of what we have been doing," she said.
Kingston Coach pleased
Kingston's coach, Brian Breese, who is involved as a coach for the first time, is especially pleased with the introduction of the special skills competition.
"This year, there is the innovation of the skills competition and I think it teaches them to bowl straight, which is the emphasis on the bowling part, and how to bat straight, which is the emphasis of the batting part, which is so very important to learning the basics of cricket.
"It's a tremendous programme to get so many kids interested, and, this year, they have doubled the number of schools and the number of girls, and that is excellent. At this stage of West Indies cricket where so many people are getting turned off, we have to get people interested in cricket and it has to start at the early stage," he said.
Jamaica Cricket Association (JCA) CEO, Courtney Francis, described the WICB and JCA-endorsed event as one of their most important programmes, and praised Scotiabank for their invaluable contribution.
"(Scotiabank's commitment) shows the value Scotiabank has seen in it. It shows the value they have been getting. A lot of our international players have a base through here, so it plays a significant role not only in our cricket, but national building.
"Kiddies cricket is played in all of the top cricket nations, and we are playing our role in the Caribbean to ensure that we have future good cricketers, to ensure that the game is sustainable, and ScotiaBank has played a significant role to ensure that,' he stated.
Meanwhile, the format of the tournament has been adjusted to include a preliminary knockout round (which started on Thursday) this year, to avoid any controversy of teams being left out and to give credence to those participating, according to tournament coordinator Phillip Service.
After the preliminary round, 10 schools in each parish will remain to vie for parish honours. They will compete on a knockout basis until a parish champion is decided. The seven parish winners will then advance to the inter-parish round, along with the winner of the special skills competition. The inter-parish round begins on March 6.
The boys and girls from the eight schools will be invited to a cricket festival and will get an opportunity to show their skills at the West Indies v Australia game in June. The programme will conclude in July with a four-day training camp.
CAPTION - Michael Clarke, student of EXED Primary, shows Monique Todd (right), VP marketing, public and corporate affairs of Scotiabank, how to hold a cricket ball while Courtney Francis, (back row left) CEO of Jamaica Cricket Association, Phillip Service (back row right), WICB territorial development officer, and students look on at the launch of Scotiabank/WICB Kiddies Cricket Programme at the Jamaica Cricket Association Conference Room, Sabina Park, yesterday. - Rudolph Brown/Photographer