JCA strategic about gear distribution to local schools, says president
PRESIDENT Wilford “Billy” Heaven says the Jamaica Cricket Association (JCA) will be strategic in its distribution of equipment to schools across the region after receiving a donation from the High Commission of India on Thursday.
The gear, valued at US$50,000 (around J$8 million), was handed over by High Commissioner Masakui Rungsung and is the remaining 90 kits of 100 promised by former India President Shri Ram Nath Kovind during his visit to Jamaica in May 2022. The other 10 were handed over during that visit.
Heaven says that with these kits, the JCA will target schools across the island.
“We will be targeting the high schools in Jamaica, where we believe this will be most impactful,” Heaven said during the handing-over ceremony on Thursday afternoon. “Also, with the collaboration of the Government, we are targeting about 280 primary schools. The last count we had is that we’re in about 90 already, so, we’re getting there.”
But Heaven says it is unrealistic to expect all schools to benefit immediately as there are too many across the island to consider.
“Truth be told, we cannot play cricket in every single school in Jamaica,” he said. “It is not a feasible option. But what we have done is look at the landscape – look at the representation in each and every parish and do a selection of how many schools we are targeting both at the primary and high school levels. Right now, we have about 172 high schools in Jamaica. The number is not the same in every parish, so it’s not a straight-line approach in terms of the distribution mechanism.”
Rungsung says that he hopes the gear will help to promote cricket in Jamaica and help its cricketers gain a similar standing in global sports as its track and field athletes.
“Jamaica’s track and field athletes are among the best in the world,” he said. “Jamaica has held several records and produced world-famous cricketers, boxers, footballers, cyclists, weightlifters, and wrestlers. Some of your cricketers are more known in India than in Jamaica. I therefore hope that this small gesture will trigger more cooperation, not only in the sport of cricket but also in the sport of track and field.
“We already have some Jamaican coaches training our track and field athletes in India and hope to see our athletes, in coming days, giving Jamaican athletes tough competition.”
Senior Jamaica Scorpions batsman Jermaine Blackwood is impressed by the equipment.
“When I just started, I didn’t have much gear,” Blackwood told the Jamaica Observer. “I used to get stuff from Chris Gayle, Marlon Samuels, and Andre Russell when I just started playing for Jamaica and the West Indies. Seeing these kits now, they’re excellent. I would use one of these bats right now because of the quality.
“The handing over was great, to be honest. When I was playing for Holmwood Technical [as a schoolboy], I would’ve loved to get some new gear from JCA or the Government, so I know the kids are going to love this, for sure. The gear is quality stuff so I know they’re going to enjoy them.
“We may see some good cricket and good talent come out of school cricket, filtering into the national level.
The equipment consists of English willow bats, pads, gloves, balls, helmets, abdominal guards, bat grips, grip cones, bags, stumps and bails, mallets, and catching bats for practice.