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Bird on a high

Albert Brandford

Bird on a high

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Flying high on the successes of his two terms, president of the Barbados Cricket Association (BCA) Joel “Big Bird” Garner is letting the board’s outstanding record speak for itself ahead of tomorrow’s elections at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre.
Garner said yesterday that while he might be the leader of the august body, it was really about the game of cricket, which has been in turmoil because of the focus on personalities as opposed to the game itself, and how it is to be taken forward.
“You would recall that some of the difficulties with clubs, including issues such as promotions and relegations ended up in court along with the agreement with Government over Kensington Oval,”  he told the DAILY NATION yesterday.
“But my Board decided that the focus instead should be on cricket development encompassing every sector, which has led to the major achievements of this term and is making cricket stronger.
During the last four years, the BCA has not been involved in litigation because the membership of the board determined to sit down and thrash out issues rather than get involved in personality conflicts which was a problem in the past.”
“We have done four years of the five-year strategic development plan (2007-2012) and, realistically, we are at the stage where we have to meet and review what was done and to look at what is pending. But being mindful of what has to be done, the board has to hold a planning meeting within a month after these elections to determine how the five-year plan will be extended for another five years.”
Garner said one of the key aspects of the five-year plan still outstanding was strengthening the club structure to allow the clubs to be self-sustaining.
“But in the meantime, what we have done is to give them financial support such as coaches, balls, paying of umpires on their behalf at significant cost and infrastructural support,” he noted.
“We also want to tap into the sports administration courses offered by the Barbados Olympic Association and other specifically designed courses.”
Garner said the BCA would continue to develop cricket by looking at the entire schools programme, from the Under-11 through to the Under-19, and also the local clubs structure.
“Building on these programmes, we have to look at a semi-professional league, with some support from corporate Barbados and the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB), because it will be inclusive of the players who are under contract to the WICB,” he added.
Garner said the board had discussed the idea of a semi-professional league when there are ten first division teams in Barbados, a number that will be reached at the end of this year.
“The president and the BCA board have to set policy, and we have a staff structure which will ensure that the policy is carried out, which was why we restructured and strengthened the secretariat and introduced initiatives such as performance appraisals.
“We believe these programmes should be effectively communicated to the public, which is why we have just brought on board a marketing consulting company with a two-fold mission of raising the profile of the game of cricket in Barbados and sourcing more funding to ensure that these programmes can be sustained.”
While the other board positions are uncontested, Garner is being challenged by present board member and former selector Calvin Hope.