18 schools added to Kiddy Cricket programme
Eighteen new schools have been added to the Kiddy Cricket line-up, moving the number of participants from 224 up to 242 for the Scotiabank/WICB Kiddy Cricket programme.
The announcement was made at an official launch held at Sabina Park, where officials from the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB), the Jamaica Cricket Association (JCA), the Ministry of Education, and Scotiabank were on hand to welcome the participants.
There has also been an increase in the number of coaches, one for each parish, an adjustment that will allow at least 16 schools in each parish to get special attention during the programme.
"With this new structure, we have been able to provide greater quality coaching to more boys and girls, improved assistance in the cricket skill development of young cricketers — boys and girls — as well as to have a closer link with the schools in the programme," said Phillip Service, West Indies territorial development officer for Jamaica.
Scotiabank Kiddy Cricket started in Jamaica in 2001 and has exposed thousands of young children to the game of cricket in a modified form, where they play 10 overs per match consisting of 10 individuals per team. Since its inception, numerous players have gone on to represent their countries and the West Indies. Some former Kiddy Cricketers of note in Jamaica are Brandon King, who now represents Jamaica, and Jermaine Blackwood, who plays for Jamaica Scorpions and the West Indies.
The preliminary-round matches are scheduled to run from February 20 to March 20. Teams comprising both boys and girls will compete to be named in the top eight. These top eight schools will play off at the Scotiabank Kiddy Cricket Festival, scheduled to take place on April 7, and subsequently showcase their skills at a Kiddy Cricket display during lunch break on the second day of the West Indies vs Pakistan test match on April 22 at Sabina Park.
Billy Heaven, president of the JCA and representative of the WICB, endorsed the expanded programme. Heaven said it has been bearing fruit with several alumni now playing at the highest level.
There were representatives from eight schools at the launch including young cricketers as well as the coaches in the programme.
The objective of Kiddy Cricket is to increase the number of youngsters in Jamaica and across the region that are exposed to the game, and ultimately increase the interest and spectator support for the game.
Scotiabank is the exclusive sponsor of Scotiabank Kiddy Cricket, and the official bank of West Indies Cricket. According to Hope McMillan-Canaan, manager — public and corporate affairs at Scotiabank, the bank was committed to the programme for the long haul.