Heaven proposes business model to drive Jamaica's cricket
A more proactive fund-raising approach, improved infrastructure in schools and broader involvement of clubs are major targets of William 'Billy' Heaven, one of the challengers for president of the Jamaica Cricket Association (JCA).
According to Heaven, if elected as JCA boss, he will lead an administration that will put measures in place to ensure the island's cricket is seen not only as a sporting attraction.
"We have to see cricket as a game and as a business... the (executive) team I put together has to look at the development aspect of it (cricket). We have to think of the game as a viable career option for men and women," the self-professed ardent cricket lover told the Jamaica Observer.
The JCA is currently headed by former national all-rounder Lyndel Wright, who announced last month that he will not seek re-election at the next annual general meeting (AGM), due by October this year.
More recently however, Wright's first vice-president, Milton Henry, officially declared his intention to battle Heaven at the polls.
Many persons supporting Heaven's challenge for local cricket boss point to what they see as his capability to bring much-needed revenue into the financially struggling association.
In businessman and former West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) president Pat Rousseau, the confident- talking Heaven has partnered with an individual he believes is worthy of championing the JCA's fund-raising thrust.
"We have to look at funding and the ability to raise funds... the Honourable Pat Rousseau has kindly consented and is happy to serve as the chair of a high-powered fund-raising committee.
"That is good news because you have to have people who are serious and people who corporate Jamaica will trust so they sponsor the various leagues. We have to assure people of sound accountability, transparency and compliance," he said.
Heaven, the chief executive officer of the CHASE Fund, suggested that the Wright-led administration has been plagued more by a failure to expeditiously tie down programmes and policies than by sheer incompetence.
"The direction, in some regard may be the right one, but to me, where we need a lot of the emphasis it's not being placed there... sometimes you are going in the right direction, but you are taking too long to get where you want to go," Heaven reasoned.
That missing link, he explained, ultimately forced his hand.
"I have been asked, over time, to make a contribution to cricket at this level, but I really never paid a lot of attention to it, given my involvement and engagement in corporate Jamaica and the public sector.
"More and more people at different levels provided strong encouragement for me to take over the reins of Jamaica cricket. After some contemplation I said if I can make a contribution for a while... hence my decision to be in contention for the presidency of the JCA," he said.
Heaven, who said he has watched varying levels of the sport from the usually community-based 'curry goat cricket' to international cricket, outlined other cornerstones of his development plans.
He noted the country's outstanding success in athletics, while adding that coaching should be an area of focus.
"We have to integrate the cricket clubs and the communities and clubs cannot only offer cricket as a product. They have to offer more to the community and become multi-purpose (oriented) to get more people involved.
"There has to be development of the game at the school level -- both primary and secondary, and a structured approach and system are needed.
"We should use track and field as an example of how (good) coaching can reap rewards. We need high quality cricket coaching in the schools. We have to look at other sports and see the model that they use and make the best use of it in cricket," he explained.
Though he has not yet decided on the actual composition of his executive team, the CHASE Fund CEO emphasised that members will have one clear goal.
"We are endeavouring to bring back cricket to the level where it ought to be... that is what we are about. We are not seeking any personal gains or glory from it. This is all about cricket and the development of cricket in Jamaica," he said.