Association launches ambitious plan to drive cricket development in St Mary

Saturday, October 20, 2018

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The St Mary Cricket Association has launched its “Blueprint for Success”, a comprehensive three-year plan to resuscitate cricket in the parish.

The main components of this plan are an emphasis on youth cricket, restructuring of clubs, a women's competition, development of cricketing infrastructure, upgrading of coaches and officials, and a push to create a formidable senior team.

The blueprint was unveiled at the opening of the Boscobel Premier League cricket competition at Boscobel Oval last weekend, with executives of the parish association touting it as a proactive and professional approach to governing the sport in St Mary.

“We realised after taking office that in order for cricket to grow in our parish we had to come up with a comprehensive plan to drive the sport forward,” St Mary CA President Ian Spencer noted.

“And that's why we have had meetings and come up with such a comprehensive plan, one that will be pleasing to both our prospective sponsors as well as the clubs and cricket lovers in this parish,” he added.

One of the hallmarks of the blueprint will be the creation of a St Mary cricket academy, run on Saturdays by qualified coaches, where youngsters can be taught proper techniques. behavioural etiquette and goal setting, as well as how to resolve conflict.

“We are now seeking a sponsor for the academy and, hopefully, prospective businesses will see the welfare of our youth as a worthwhile investment,” noted first Vice-President Junior Mattison.

On the matter of youth cricket, the parish executive has already planned a series of meetings with parish and high school principals, physical education teachers, and other stakeholders to renew interest in the sport in the parish. There will also be the introduction of Under-13 and Under-19 competitions.

Other highlights of the plan include a mandate for the clubs in St Mary to set up a proper structure, including a governing executive to properly fund the affairs of the teams; a coach for each club, a manager, and the staging of regular training sessions for the players.

There will also be the introduction of a parish database, where all players competing in competitions will be documented, a file created, and all relevant information and statistics uploaded.

On the issue of the senior parish team, a new selection policy with a panel of selectors is being created and will be outlined to the clubs and players. Parish teams will now be involved in training sessions before competitions, as well as subjected to psychological development and eventually medical assistance for injuries suffered.

To this end, the association is launching an “Adopt A Player” scheme, where individuals and companies will be invited to assist with the development of individual players during the course of a season.

“We are not yet in a position to cater to most of the needs of our players, and as such, having them 'adopted' is the clear path to go,” Spencer observed.

The St Mary CA is also looking at upgrading the cricket pitches and facilities in the parish, working alongside the clubs, and has plans for an official cricketing ground for the parish — complete with proper changing rooms and offices — where senior and junior teams can practise.

“We have identified such a facility and efforts will now be made to acquire and upgrade it,” executive member Leston Pinnock said.

Second vice-president and national female player Karla Cohen has designed a plan for the development of women's cricket, with the introduction of a win ball cricket competition in 2019 from which the best young talent will be selected to train with the regular cricket ball. Young females will also be a part of the proposed cricket academy.

“We cannot progress without proper coaching... the blueprint will focus on coaching clinics at all levels — in collaboration with the Jamaica Cricket Association — to increase the number of certified coaches in the parish,” Spencer noted.

All clubs will be mandated to work towards having at least one certified coach as part of their organisation. The document also encourages past and present cricketers to get involved in coaching.

Other plans outlined in the blueprint include: playing more community cricket in the various parish leagues in order to broaden fan support; seminars for scorers, grounds staff, match referees, team managers, administrators; fitness and conditionin;, first aid — to be implemented — all toin conjunction with the Jamaica Cricket Association.

The St Mary CA plans to tap into the Diaspora for support in the form of gears and funding, and has already moved forward with the launch of its website, Facebook and Instagram pages. The body is also looking at the feasibility of being registered as a non-profit organisation.

To facilitate all the plans for the association, Spencer is making in impassioned plea for sponsors in and out of the parish to come forward and lend their support.

“We have a good marketing programme planned, with sponsors' banners at the cricket grounds, exposure in the media and on our social media platforms, incentives during matches to enhance spectator appeal, and the simple mandate of developing our young men and women… that's why we need the help of corporate Jamaica and we are confident they will answer the call,” Spencer concluded..

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