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Flying high

Sherrylyn A. Toppin

Flying high

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The Barbados Cricket Association’s (BCA) programmes instituted under president Joel “Big Bird” Garner have started to bear fruit, and prudent financial investments are being made to secure the future of local and regional cricket.
That is the message coming from BCA first vice-president Conde Riley, who outlined the gains made by the current board ahead of Thursday’s special general meeting and elections at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre.
“We have the programme in place. It came out of our five-year development programme. I think we have achieved everything we set out to achieve and the results are there,” said Riley, chairman of the Investment Committee.
“All of our funds are not being utilized in our operations. We are investing. If you look in our annual report, you would see where we have just set aside $4 million for future investment because the market is not one right now where we want to rush into anything,” Riley told NATIONSPORT in an interview yesterday.
“So we went into an area where we thought we would get the highest return which is Government debentures.
We just brought $4 million worth of that to ensure that we set aside money in the event that our main revenue stream, which is the lottery, if something goes wrong, that we would still have some money set aside to keep us going.”
Riley, who is also chairman of the Cricket Development Committee, said this strong financial base was paying dividends in the development of the game. The BCA has been able to contract and retain 15 cricketers, including two women and six junior boys “so that they won’t have to go to work full time and then rush off to practice”.
Riley said when former West Indies fast bowler Garner took over leadership of the BCA, his theme was getting back to cricket – making Barbados cricket strong again. Based on a consultant’s report coming out of the Shorey Report and the Patterson Report, they developed a five-year plan from 2007 to 2012 to improve cricket in the schools and the clubs.
Out of this came the Everton Weekes Centre of Excellence.
From the existing structure, they picked the Top 20 players in the Under-13, Under-15, Under-17 and Under-19 age groups. At the same time, the West Indies Cricket Board mandated the inclusion of women in the development programme, and they were also incorporated.
Four full-time coaches led by director of coaching Henderson Springer, Vasbert Drakes, Emmerson Trotman and Dexter Toppin were also appointed to work with the players at the centre.
The first set of players in the programme has begun to make its mark at the local, regional and international level.
Riley said they also began looking towards the future of the Barbados team, and many of the players mentioned above were introduced.
“Our aim was not to win the regional tournament. We have won the regional tournament more than half the time it was run, but we were at a point where we were in transition so we decided, in collaboration with the selectors, it was time to introduce new players,” Riley said.
In addition, the BCA has also accredited more than 100 new coaches at Levels 1 and 2. Riley said it was compulsory for all players under retainer to be certified as coaches to assist with the school programmes.
Seminars for groundsmen have also been held this year and the BCA has also started to train match referees.