Heaven, Neita challenge for JCA presidency

Thursday, February 28, 2019

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BOTH candidates for the Jamaica Cricket Association (JCA) top job are cautiously confident of victory ahead of today's election at Medallion Hall Hotel in St Andrew.

Wilford “Billy” Heaven, the incumbent, faces the challenge of Mark Neita, who was Heaven's second vice-president for the last two years.

“Our team is very confident that we will be re-elected. This is based on our record of performance, not on the promises that are being made,” Heaven, the chief executive officer of the State-run Culture, Health, Arts, Sports and Education (CHASE) Fund, told the Jamaica Observer.

Neita, the president of Melbourne Cricket Club and former national batsman, while noting that his decision to oppose Heaven was fuelled by dissatisfaction with the direction of Jamaica's cricket, called on delegates to vote for change.

“If delegates make a decision that is in the best interest of the development of the game, then I'm confident that I will be the person. I believe my message has resonated with them,” Neita said.

Heaven, at the end of his second-straight two-year tenure as president, has boasted of the JCA's improved accountability and transparency and commitment to tax compliance under his watch.

His detractors have noted the general decline in Jamaica's competitiveness on the field of play at senior and age-group levels. However, Heaven insists that his drive to develop youth cricket will reap rewards in the longer term.

“We believe the members, generally, will be impressed by what we have done, what we propose to continue to do, and the fact that we have delivered on our promise since we took office. That in itself will appeal to the delegates, and they will support cricket, which is what we represent,” Heaven explained.

Neita spoke of his success in spearheading the revitalisation of Melbourne and work as chairman of the JCA Cricket Committee and as member of the marketing committee.

“The fact of the matter is that Jamaica's cricket continues to perform poorly. My platform is to change all that and make cricket relevant again and bring back the glory days. I've worked really hard for the game, and my accomplishments at Melbourne and at the cricket board level are there for all to see,” Neita told the Observer.

A total of 102 delegates are eligible to vote for the next JCA president. Of that number, 22 clubs and parishes have two votes each, while associations (24), board members (17), affiliates (10), and life members (7) round out the delegates' list.

The presidential race aside, there is expected to be voting for second vice-president, secretary, assistant secretary, treasurer, and assistant treasurer.

Neita is without a first vice-president candidate on his executive slate, leaving the door open for Dr Donovan Bennett — who is on Heaven's ticket — to return to that position unopposed.

The election exercise will be part of the annual general meeting which begins at 3:00 pm.

A number of reports are expected to be tabled, along with the presentation of audited statements.

— Sanjay Myers

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