The 'Wright' man
JCA boss backs Henry who plans focus on youth development
ASPIRANT for the Jamaica Cricket Association (JCA) presidency, Milton Henry, believes he is the man to push the development of the sport in the coming years.
Henry, the first vice-president of the association, and CHASE Fund chief executive officer William 'Billy' Heaven are so far the only confirmed challengers for the JCA top spot in the aftermath of president Lyndel Wright's decision to not run for another term at the next annual general meeting (AGM), due by this October.
Instead, Wright threw the spotlight on Henry when he told the Jamaica Observer last month that he would be supporting his right-hand man -— a man he always saw as his "successor".
Henry is confident in the success of key initiatives that he will roll out once elected.
He is targeting an effective marketing plan, increased focus on women's cricket, an effective Under-23 programme, better facilities, the building of stronger links with tertiary schools and improved partnerships with the clubs and parishes as well as with the overarching West Indies Cricket Board (WICB).
"I've served cricket for many years at all levels and I believe I can lead the JCA properly to success over the next few years... once the incumbent decided not to go (seek re-election) I think that was the opportunity for me", he told the Observer.
"For the cricket to go forward we are going to have to have transformation through partnerships.
"We are putting together a very strong marketing and fundraising approach. In this kind of economy you are looking to raise funds, yes, but you really need to demonstrate the value to private sector partners. So I think that is one we will deepen.
"Women's cricket... I believe we haven't focused on it as much as we should. What we are looking to do is to have a board member definitively responsible for women's cricket," Henry said.
Highlighting the development of young players, he continued: "We need to have an elite programme for Under-23 players because when they finish the Under-19s we have to ensure they move into our national teams seamlessly and that they are properly tooled. I also think we have to grow the interest of the young through continued focus on our grassroots programme.
"From the development side we should be heavy mini-academies from the WICB side and we are looking to have that in terms of the quality of the cricket and the cricketers. We want facilities in the rural areas so cricketers don't have to come to Kingston.
"The development is not just for cricket as a sport because a lot of young cricketers are going onto tertiary institutions so that would be another major plan... to deepen the partnership with these institutions."
"About a year ago we did indicate to a number of public sector funding agencies, including CHASE, asking for support for the clubs and my understanding is that we could get some good news from there," said the man, who is also WICB director.
The JCA has been struggling financially both before and during Wright's tenure.
Henry, an engineer by profession, suggested that the current administration has done reasonably well under the circumstances, but he was keen to point out that some areas required special attention.
The JCA vice-president was buoyed that the association will be able to reveal an up-to-date financial report at the AGM.
"The (lack of an effective) marketing plan has been one of our weak areas and we have to address that with urgency. We have shown some strength to get the finances up even in challenging times, but we are definitely looking to improve.
"This administration has had our financial bouts... bear in mind we inherited a very poor financial position... this year for the first time in our history our financials would be brought up to speed for the annual general meeting," he explained.
Since Heaven's emergence in the race, some persons on Wright's current executive are rumoured to have formed allegiance with the CHASE Fund CEO.
Despite that, Henry expressed confidence in his position.
"Some persons of the current administration may be supporting Mr Heaven and the challengers always have an advantage because they can say as they wish. But I do believe once we have put together our team and our strategy going forward I'm confident we are going to be successful," he said.
The recent breakdown in talks to have floodlights installed at Sabina Park has been a negative hit, but Henry assured that "even with lights not coming this year, we will certainly be having it next year."