Great value in SDC's cricket competition

Great value in SDC's cricket competition

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

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The Social Development Commission (SDC) very rarely makes headlines.

That's perhaps just as well, for there are a few State agencies over the last year or so that have made the news for all the wrong reasons.

Though under-resourced and under-staffed, the SDC is one of those bodies that routinely plays a central role in numerous initiatives requiring community mobilisation.

Formally established in 1965 following a change of name from the previous Jamaica Social Welfare Commission, the SDC was mandated to “promote, manage and control schemes” for the betterment of community and country.

We are also told that the “organisation's vision has been a Jamaican society where all citizens actively participate in a process and benefit from the resulting good governance, economic prosperity, sustainable environment, and social well-being.

“Its mission is to facilitate the empowerment of citizens in communities, enabling their participation in an integrated, equitable, sustainable national development process.”

Down the years, the SDC has been at the centre of nation-building initiatives.

Among them skills training, formation of community groups and youth clubs, helping small business start-ups, poverty eradication, and the practise of democratic action through structures such as community and parish development committees.

In the course of history, the SDC's National Twenty20 Community Cricket Competition will surely be remembered among its most admirable.

It's an incontrovertible fact that since its formation, 12 years ago, the SDC competition has been Jamaica's most popular domestic cricket competition.

Over a period when cricket has been on the wane, both as participation and spectator sport, the SDC tournament has consistently caused a buzz, attracting hundreds to its games and thousands to its grand final.

The most recent final, last Sunday, between Westmoreland-based Orange Hill and Gayle Cricket Club of St Mary was attended by thousands of people.

That's in sharp contrast with the final of the Jamaica Cricket Association (JCA) all-island 50-overs club championship the previous day attended by scores of people.

No wonder then that the JCA has now become a major partner with the SDC in the latter's cricket competition, and that world-famous brewers J Wray & Nephew have chosen to invest $42 million in the competition sponsorship support virtually unheard of in nowadays Jamaica cricket.

Mr Terrence Richards, SDC's senior programme coordinator, tells us that the competition is more than being just about cricket and that in fact, part of the winning prize money of $1.2 million must go towards a business project to be developed in the community properly thought out, organised and monitored.

Obviously too, the cricket competition is pulling community and people together in a manner best achieved through sport.

Mr Richards tells us that, “Sport acts as a catalyst to get the excitement created in the community to build camaraderie, and through that we carry out other programmes ... this (cricket competition) is a stimulus for the other programmes that we do.”

To the Government, we say, it makes sense to look to this project created and developed by the SDC as a template, among the mix of solutions, as the country grapples with out-of-control crime, and a wide range of social problems, including poverty.

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