Leslie directing cricket beyond the boundary
ALTHOUGH Steven Leslie was not able to perform at the level required to become a famous cricketer, he certainly executed just enough skill to be written down in cricket history with the position he now holds at the Barbados Cricket Association (BCA).
The 37-year-old husband and father of one daughter took up his new role as director of cricket at the BCA on November 1 after serving as sports coordinator with responsibility for cricket at the University of the West Indies (UWI) Cave Hill Campus for 15 years.
His new position was shaped after the roles of former director of coaching Henderson Springer and cricket operations manager Rollins Howard were combined and additional responsibilities added.
“The developmental aspect that I manage as director of the BCA will seek to build on our recent international representation. We currently have eight male and seven female Barbadian players in the West Indies international squads,” Leslie told SUNSPORT.
One of his favourites
He added that within his role of developing those programmes, one of the major objectives was to ensure the efficient management of funds which he admits was one of his favourite functions on the job.
“One of the key factors in my job is to be able to manage a budget and try to execute the different programmes within those areas. We have quite a number of service areas that have to be maintained. We have been able to get maximum value for what we are going to be spending and at the same time make sure both male and female cricketers get as much as they can,” said Leslie passionately.
The former student of The St Michael School and sixth former at The Lodge School, who later graduated from UWI with bachelors and masters degrees, said he was very grateful for the opportunity given to him by Vice Chancellor Sir Hilary Beckles at UWI because it was his training ground for the journey he was now on.
“I had tremendous experiences to interface with ministers of government, some prime ministers, permanent secretaries and all of the key stakeholders of West Indies cricket as far as the International Cricket Council. That gave me the opportunity to meet persons and negotiate with them,” said Leslie.
He added that in 2007 he was heavily involved with the organisation of the World Cup and that was also a rewarding experience that assisted in equipping him with the relevant tools to execute his role to the fullest in the cricket administrative world.
Though he had laboured much making most of his contributions at the tertiary and regional level in his earlier role, he explained that he understood that being able to surpass those successes was a great accomplishment.
“I enjoyed being there but with the opportunity being presented to work at the national level and to be part of the driving force of the BCA is an honour,” said Leslie, a long-standing former manager of the successful UWI team.
Leslie said that he believed being a part of the BCA could benefit the organisation immensely.
“The BCA has an opportunity to have an improvement in the areas that need to be streamlined. I believe I can bring more structure to the organisation in terms of accountability and rewarding persons once they do well, at the same time being able to assess and evaluate when you are rewarding . . . . I want to bring a different face to the areas that can be improved,” said the past president of the UWI Cave Hill guild (2003-2004).
He added that one of his major plans was to implement a vibrant and productive youth cricket programme.
“Well-structured youth and club cricket programmes become senior teams. That is very key in my mind. There’s the Everton Weekes Centre of Excellence which we started on November 23. That will feed a lot of the young talent into our national youth teams and provide a good feeding ground for those who are going on to senior cricket to represent the Barbados team,” he said.
Despite the advancement he gained along with the new position, his involvement at the university would always be a part of him.
“It would be something that would continue throughout my work life in later years . . . . I have respect for the programme I was a part of; we were able to pull together a group of student athletes allowing them to be competitive not only in cricket but in various sports,” he said stating that he also wanted to add that to the BCA.
Being a member of the Empire cricket club he became close friends with a now deceased stalwart of the club, Vernon Fenty, who encouraged him to stay focused on the positive things, improving whatever aspects he could in his environment and he did just that when he chose administration at the age of 24.
“I always said if I become an administrator, how can I adequately make the players that I am actually managing be as comfortable as possible,” said Leslie.
And because of that encouragement the new director made it clear that he does not only intend to develop the skills of players but to impart as much knowledge into these individuals which would enable them to become well rounded people in the sport of cricket even after their playing careers were over.
“I wanted to have a forum where cricketers are able to develop all round. They are not just athletes but they are able to become administrators in cricket, they can become match officials,” he said.
“I will be putting programmes in place over the next few years, which would permit persons while they are playing to develop themselves, obtaining certification in areas like coaching, so when they reach that stage they can become, for example, international cricket commentators. Those are careers available if you are interested in them as opposed to just being a former good sportsman. I want persons to develop into more marketable individuals.”
Although he has many ideas, Leslie is aware that there is a board to which he is accountable.
“I have to navigate very carefully because there’s a board of management that I have to share my ideas with and to be able to have them buy in so the programmes can be executed. The BCA has a very diverse group of persons on the board, so you have to recognise that you must come with ideas and be able to articulate them to win that group over before it actually gets to the execution stage,” he said.
Nonetheless, to Leslie, cricket is the main sport in the Caribbean, which ensures that people are able to unite. He says becoming the BCA’s first director of cricket is an exciting journey to be able to begin at this season in his life.