MINISTER with responsibility for sports Natalie Neita-Headley has praised the Cricket Clubs Activities Committee (CCAC) for its initiative to develop the game through fostering partnerships with sponsors and engaging past and current players.
Two Sundays ago, the CCAC teamed with Melbourne CC for the club's hosting of its cricket festival and hundreds of spectators turned up at the Derrymore Road-based venue to watch drama-filled Twenty20 matches involving numerous sporting stars and celebrities.
A similar treat was also put on the day before at the Manley Horne Park in Ballard's Valley, St Elizabeth.
"This fund-raising venture is a good opportunity for the parishes and clubs to be involved. For the kind of celebrity status that has happened here, for them to give back something and also for the proceeds to be going back into cricket development in the country is fantastic. I think more of it needs to be done," Neita-Headley told the Sunday Observer.
The government minister, who took full part in the cricket action by batting and fielding, urged stakeholders to find ways to garner revenue from the sport since state-funded bodies will not be able to fill all the gaps.
"Persons are not seeing the total benefit of what cricket can bring to the clubs, to the communities and to the country. We are still utilising the sport as we did many years ago [but] we have gone far past that.
"Broadcasting rights is now accounting for the greater proportion of what anybody makes from staging a meet or event, so you have to give quality so there is content that people would want to buy into.
"That is something we have to continue to push because the Government will never be able to properly fund any of the sporting activities and sporting disciplines," she explained.
Some of the sponsors on board for this year's event were Digicel, Wisynco, Qualcare, Avis, CVM, KLAS, Caribbean Airlines, Bigga soft drinks and Crimson Dawn.
Wavell Hinds, the former West Indies batsman and the chairman of the CCAC, thanked corporate entities for their involvement, while insisting that cricket remains a viable option for investors.
"It was good and we got to capture stars of today and those of yesterday and of course, some future stars. We certainly got a good cross-section of players.
"We had Richie Richardson, who has captained the West Indies team, former fast bowling greats Curtly Ambrose and Courtney Walsh.
"Then the current stars like Dwayne Bravo, [Kieron] Pollard, Chris Gayle, Andre Russell and [Krishmar] Santokie, and then there are youngsters like Jermaine Blackwood, who has made an impression in first-class cricket, and also some other youngsters who play Under-19 cricket and are trying to make an impression.
"This is a win-win because it is to raise funds for the clubs and to develop the cricket. It also promotes the game and shows sponsors that cricket is not dead and it can be a good outlet for them to showcase their brands, products and services," Hinds said.
Others participating over the two days of cricket included Jamaica skipper Tamar Lambert, former West Indies pacers Nixon McLean and Corey Collymore, current regional cricketers Sulieman Benn and Sheldon Cotterell, young prospects Brian Gayle and Donavan Nelson,
ex-Reggae Boy Ricardo Gardner and sprint star Yohan Blake.