By Avenash Ramzan
The Guyana edition of Scotiabank Kiddy Cricket was officially launched on Thursday with thousands of young boys and girls set to get their first taste of the game at an elementary level. Over 200 schools, comprising 20 students each, will participate in the nationwide competition, according to Territorial Development Officer of the Guyana Cricket Board, Colin Stuart.
The students will receive training in several aspects of the sport, including coaching, physical fitness, and the technical and mental aspects. The main aim of the programme, which is in its 18th year, is to stimulate interest in the game among the youth population.
Apart from the practical sessions, the students will be exposed to ‘Cricket is my game- Learn it’ where they will receive general knowledge about the sport, while another segment ‘Meet the emerging players’ will see national cricketers conducting motivational sessions. This year’s programme will roll off on February 21 and conclude in June. Following the completion, there will be four camps in late July, early August.
Meanwhile, students from eight schools will put on a physical display during the innings break of the ODI match between West Indies and Pakistan on April 9 at the National Stadium, Providence.
At the launch on Thursday, representatives of several stakeholder bodies spoke on the significance of such an investment by Scotiabank. Marketing Manager, Jennifer Cipriani, said Scotiabank “is big on supporting sports and for good reason.”
“Scotiabank continues to be proud of its almost 18-year association with Kiddy Cricket, one of our longest-running sponsorships in the Caribbean region. Guyanese players Steven Jacobs and Jonathon Foo are among the successful Kiddy Cricket alumni. Ladies and gentlemen, we are seeing the results of our efforts to make West Indian cricket great again and we are heartened,” Cipriani stated.
She continued, “And while only a small percentage of Kiddy cricketers will make the West Indies team, we hope that our sponsorship of this programme will help all of them make it through life successfully. We look forward to another great year for West Indian cricket.”
Taaliba Speede of the Child Care and Protection Agency stated that the Agency is excited to partner with the sponsor and organisers, and will be providing related services and advice to players, coaches and teachers during the programme.
“We want persons to understand that child abuse not only occur in the homes or the schools, but there are clubs that are being formed in different sections across Guyana, and we’re willing and we’re ready to work with persons, moreso at this event. Coaches, we want to train them, enhance their knowledge and skills. We also want to let the coaches know that we’re here to give guidance, we’re here to give support and we’re here to provide training in whatever aspect we can help so that we can be able to protect our nation’s children,” Speede explained.
Lorna Mohammad of the Ministry of Education also spoke of the benefits students can derive from being involved in Kiddy Cricket, noting that the Ministry is fully behind the initiative.
“The Ministry views this initiative as an excellent one since our young boys and girls will be exposed to rules and skills related to the game, and moreso, that they’re a number of life skills that are embedded as they play. For example, participation in the game makes pupils disciplined individuals, builds their self-confidence, builds team spirit, fosters and encourages cooperation. The game also helps in development of problem solving, negotiating and comprising skills,” Mohammad told the gathering.
Head of the Allied Arts Unit of the Ministry of Education, Nicholas Fraser, echoed similar sentiments, adding, “In addition to the children receiving the skills related to both on-the-field and off-the-field activities, teachers are also trained during this period, as was outlined earlier. Within that training there’s a lot that adds to the training that teachers receive from CPCE and other places. So it’s important also that this aspect be highlighted, regarding teachers being able to have more updated information and how to teach the skills correctly.”
Hazel Pyle Lewis of the Guyana Teachers Union said “cricket plays a pivotal role in nurturing students in schools.”
“Because of this event, they (students) are able to develop socially, emotionally, psychologically and physically, and when they develop these skills they are able to eradicate some of the ills that we are facing in our communities,” she reckoned. Students and teachers from Redeemer Primary and North Georgetown were also in attendance at Thursday’s launch.