Windies retired players body launched
With the endorsement of the legendary Sir Garfield Sobers and the support of the West Indies Cricket Board, the West Indies Players Association and the Government of Barbados, the West Indies Retired Players Foundation (WIRPF) was launched on Thursday night at the Hilton International, with the promise of bigger and better things for past, present and future regional players.
On the eve of celebrating the 60th anniversary of his foray into Test cricket, Barbados’ only living National Hero Sir Garry welcomed the initiative which he saw as benefiting those people who had given so much to the region and the world and he recognised the foundation as offering the chance for the past greats to help the future stars.
In addition to Sir Garry, the West Indies T20 team were present along with former greats like Sir Vivian Richards, Joel Garner, Charlie Griffith, Seymour Nurse, Cammie Smith, Jeffrey Dujon, Patterson Thompson of the West Indies Players Association, WICB president Dave Cameron, and Nixon McLean, who is a member of the foundation’s committee.
“Our youngsters have the talent but they need the help to achieve consistent performances and they need the right advice to help them correct the errors that crop up,” said Sir Garry.
However, the former Windies captain lamented the fact that since the 1980s when the West Indies were powerhouses he had advised the cricket leaders to add one dollar to the entrance fee for regional matches since the fans who were cramming the stands would not have objected, but his proposal was rejected.
“Such a proposal would have benefited our players and I am happy to see this finally taking place, but I would hope that after the launch and all of the plans and speeches, six months later all of this would not come to nothing,” stated Sir Garry.
The foundation will be offering health care to former players as well as providing bursaries and scholarships for people in the region.
Fund-raising will be carried out throughout the world via sit-down discussions, golf and other sporting events, workshops and seminars as well as technical clinics.
Minister of Sports Stephen Lashley, in supporting the launch, described the initiative as providing … “a method of preserving the rich heritage of outstanding cricket prowess for which our legends are renowned.
“I have always been concerned about the fact that the abundance of expertise and experience of our former cricketing greats were under-utilised.
“I am aware that your immediate mandate is to enhance the development of West Indies cricket through closer collaborations between the players past and present; and with a view of increasing the skills and knowledge transfer.
“I believe that there is also an excellent opportunity presented to expand the scope of the foundation and to enable the legends to be more visible and accessible at the level of the community.
“You can in fact be mentors and role models for our youth as another way of passing your mittens to our future generations of cricketers,” said Lashley.