Youngsters shine in mini league
DISCOVERY BAY, St Ann — Fourteen-year-old Renaldo Ingram, a grade 10 student at Holmwood Technical in Manchester has his sights on the West Indies cricket squad.
"I want to go very far in cricket. Everybody tells me that I'm talented and my dream is to make it first to the Jamaica under-17 and then hopefully, one day I will make it to the West Indies team," he told the Jamaica Observer North East.
He is one of several youngsters who have been benefiting from a summer sport programme sponsored by Noranda Jamaica Bauxite Partners (NJBP), called the mini league. The league, which has been running for over three decades, identifies and fosters some of the parish's most talented youngsters in netball and cricket.
As a result, a number of boys and girls under age 14 and living in the bauxite company's operation areas of Discovery Bay (plant) and Alexandria (mines), have been selected to represent the parish at the under-15 level in both sports.
Young Ingram, who made the most runs (384) during the most recent one-month summer programme, was selected as the most valuable player from the mines programme. He is a member of Holmwood's under-16 cricket and Headley Cup teams and he also plays for the St Ann under-15 team.
"Coach Pennant (Orville Pennant, former West Indies cricketer and one of the coaches for the mini league) saw how well I played during the summer programme and he said I was very talented and he wanted to help me so he got me into Holmwood," he explained.
Another young cricketer, 14-year-old York Castle High student Lenford Blagrave, who took the most wickets during the summer programme, believes the NJBP mini league has helped him to become a better cricketer.
"I have been coming for three years and I think it is a very good programme because each year they discover new talent and the coaches are very good because they are helping us to be better cricketers," Blagrave explained.
Blagrave is a member of his school's under-16 and Headley Cup teams and like all the other youngsters who participate in the programme each year, his dream is to be called to the West Indies squad.
"When I just started I wasn't very good, but the programme has helped me in so many ways and I want to thank Noranda for giving youths like myself this opportunity and helping us to showcase our talent," Blagrave, who was MVP for the plant programme and who took 11 wickets, told the Observer North East.
Kent Skyers, NJBP public and community relations superintendent said over the years a lot of talent has been discovered and that many of its participants have represented the parish.
"You just have to look at the number of youngsters who move up to represent St Ann at the under-15 level who have participated in the Mini League programme and realise the effectiveness of the programme," he said. "It is getting the desired results and we are always looking at ways at improving each year."
Skyers explained that the company takes great care in its selection of some 40 adults who serve as coaches for the programme.
Netballers, too, have been making some impact and young Deveney Ingram, with 71 goals from 83 attempts and the MVP title for the Mines area, is aiming to someday make the Sunshine Girls squad.
"I love netball and everybody tells me that I'm good so I'm just working on my talent and learning all I can because I want to make it to the national and world level," the 13-year-old told the Observer North East .
The 13-year-old Aabuthnott Gallimore High student said the summer programme has helped her to develop and taught her many valuable lessons like cooperation, good sportsmanship and discipline.
Another youngster, 12-year-old Sherena Parchment, hopes her involvement and talent in netball will help her make it onto the junior netball team at St Hilda's High when she starts there in September.
"I have been coming to the mini league from I was about nine and I love it and I want to continue playing netball because it is a very good sport," said Parchment who was MVP for the plant programme.