The Third Annual Regional Under-15 High Performance (HP) Cricket Camp jointly sponsored by Sandals Resorts International and the West Indies Cricket Board in partnership with the Ministry of Youth Development and Sports, got underway Wednesday at the Beausejour Cricket Ground Players Pavilion. This 10 day camp not only provides youngsters with practice sessions with highly skilled coaches but also deals with their personal development.
After welcoming everyone, Master of Ceremonies, Dominic Fedee who is the Public Relations Manager for Sandals Resorts International, apologized for the absence of Sandals General Manager, Lennox Dupal but read a speech on his behalf.
His opening words were: “Today marks a very proud day for us at Sandals Resorts International and the Sandals Foundation, as we celebrate 13 successful years of cricket development. As many of you may know what we now call the Sandals Foundation WICB High Performance Camp, replaces the Sandals Cricket Academy which had a lifespan of 10 years, prior to this new partnership between the WICB and the Sandals Foundation. So today we join our colleagues in Antigua at the Vivian Richards Grounds, to harness the abundance of under-15 talent that exists in the West Indies.”
Dupal also made mention of the cricket initiatives administered by coaches taking place in the various communities, which he feels compliments the programs regional approach to the development of cricket and also compliments the various secondary school competitions.
The Antigua camp that Dupal referred to is somewhat similar to the one in St Lucia, except the participants there are from Guyana, Trinidad & Tobago and the Leeward Islands. The St Lucia camp has cricketers from Barbados, Jamaica and the Windwards.
President of the St Lucia National Cricket Association, Julian Charles, who spoke on behalf of the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) said: “The WICB really loves this partnership with Sandals, because clearly it’s in a place where the seeds are grown. We see the seeds germinate and we see players blossom into obviously some of the best players in the world. So it is something the West Indies Cricket Board is extremely proud of.”
Charles feels the inaugural Caribbean Premiere League (CPL) and the development of cricket in the Caribbean is great news. He told youngsters: “It means you really have a career choice if you decide to play cricket seriously, you have a career path where you could earn a good living and more importantly do what you love.”
During his brief remarks Head Coach, Junnie Mitchum said: “The Sandals Foundation High Performance Camp has been playing an integral role in the sustainability and for the development of West Indies cricket.”
He referred to the camp as a prestigious event with a team of highly certified knowledge and experienced coaches, and that participants should feel honoured and privileged to be a part of it and not take this opportunity for granted.
Prior to introducing Director in the Ministry for Youth Development and Sports, Victor Reid, Fedee outlined the life skill seminars of the camp which includes interviews with the press, the proper diet, history of West Indies Cricket courtesy of Reds Perreira and featured guest speakers like West Indies Cricket Captain Darren Sammy and former West Indies cricketer Clive Llyod. For reasons beyond their control, Sammy and Lloyd were not present at Wednesday’s opening.
Reid who has been on board with this program from day one, began by thanking and praising cricket coach Keith Charlery, for his long service and dedication to the program.
Reid spoke with pride and joy when pointing out that some cricketers who evolved from the ministry’s Under-15 Cricket program, have gone on to play for the Windwards and yes even the Senior West Indies team.
He said: “The genesis of the Sandals Academy gives credence to the ministry’s under-15 program, by giving the best of these players a level of hope and motivation that I am among the best in the West Indies and the West Indies Board is seeing me and recognizing me as having talent.”
Reid urged the young cricketers to take the camp seriously and view it as an opportunity to move one step forward or a notch higher.