Sports

WIPA launches cricket programme in high schools

Thursday, January 24, 2019

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The West Indies Players' Association (WIPA) yesterday announced its expansion of the WIPA in the Community (WIC) cricket programme which aims to aid the development of the sport at the high school level.

The initiative, which officially began in Jamaica on January 14, involves WIPA assigning and paying certified cricket coaches to provide technical support and monitoring of the Under-14, Under-16 and Under-19 programmes in a number of schools.

The initial roll-out of the programme will cover 20 schools in Kingston, St Andrew and St Catherine. However, WIPA President and CEO Wavell Hinds said the broader objective is to increase the number of coaches and spread the coverage across the island as the programme gains traction.

“Yes, we want to move into the rural areas but it's now at the teething stage. At the end of this cricket season we will look at the numbers and assess how best we can improve,” Hinds said during the launch at WIPA's offices at Sabina Park.

According to WIPA, the coaches in the programme are certified at either Level 1, Level 2 or Level 3 by Cricket West Indies (CWI), or possess coaching certification from Cricket Australia.

CWI President Whycliffe “Dave” Cameron was not present at the launch but was said to have provided a script which was read during the press conference.

“I would like to applaud WIPA on its work done through this programme. We are well aware of the work being done… and we are keen on facilitating its growth across the entire region,” Cameron was quoted as saying.

Former Jamaica Captain Tamar Lambert and Odean Brown are among ex-players being utilised by WIPA. The players' union has also engaged active players Cassius Burton, Nikita Miller and Nicholson Gordon.

WIPA said the WIC cricket programme began in 2008 in Trinidad with 369 students from 13 schools being guided by nine certified coaches. It said the number has grown to 2,300 students from 24 schools with over 50 trained coaches.

Roxanne Shurton-McLeish, WIPA's senior communications manager, said the scope of the programme has broadened over the years.

“The WIC programme has evolved into more than just cricket. It places high emphasis on core values and life skills and even has an anti-bullying initiative with DVDs distributed to schools,” she said.

Mark Neita, the Jamaica Cricket Association second vice-president and member of ISSA's Cricket Committee, said the programme fosters “significant benefit for the development of youngsters”.

Leighton Christie, the chairman for urban cricket at Inter-Secondary Schools Sports Association (ISSA), endorsed the move from ISSA, while explaining that “to improve the cricket, we need to start in the schools”.

Norman Malcolm, president of the Jamaica Cricket Umpires' Association (JCUA), said it is a “fantastic idea” and pledged the umpires' willingness to assist in whatever way they can.

The schools under the programme include Jonathan Grant High, Spanish Town High, Ardenne High, Excelsior High, Waterford High, Pembroke Hall High, St George's College, Papine High, St Andrew Technical, Wolmer's Boys', St Jago High, Kingston College, Mona High, Northern Technical, St Catherine High, Jamaica College, Calabar High, Norman Manley High, Edith Dalton James High and Holy Trinity High.

— Sanjay Myers


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