U-19 World Cup: Sport Minister projects US$3M income for Guyana
By Akeem Greene
Sixteen teams, 64 matches, 28 days, at least four matches per day, two to three match venues in each of the four territories, along with two to three practice facilities form the synopsis of the massive logistical requirements which Cricket West Indies (CWI) undertook to host next year’s International Cricket Council (ICC) Under-19 50-over World Cup from January 14 to February 5.
Guyana, Antigua and Barbuda, St. Kitts and Nevis and Trinidad and Tobago are the four hosts of the event, which according to Minister of Culture, Youth and Sport, Charles Ramson Jr., will derive immense economic value to Guyana.
“We quantified internally at the Ministry, that in excess of US$3M in economic value will be coming to Guyana within the month of January. We were not going to allow an opportunity to host a tournament where you are getting that kind of revenue stream indirectly or directly into the country and let that flitter away,” the Minister stated as Guyana was officially announced a host country on Sunday morning, at the National Stadium, Providence.
The Minister pointed out that the tournament will help in a significant way to drive Guyana’s thriving Sport Tourism product, as the hotel, transportation and food industries will flourish from the influx of teams, officials and families.
Guyana is now the only territory to have hosted all ICC events awarded to the West Indies, namely the Men’s 50-Over World Cup (2007), Men’s World T20 (2010), Women’s World T20 (2018), and now Men’s Under-19 World Cup (2022).
Major work behind the scenes
Ramson Jr. indicated that Guyana’s hosting agreement was in “jeopardy” due to torrential rain, which left some venues under water a day before the ICC team returned to inspect.
He further highlighted the phenomenal teamwork to ensure the country remained a host as there are ongoing works to clear outfalls and nearby drains to reduce the flooding around the facilities, in particular, Demerara Cricket Club (DCC) and Georgetown Cricket Club (GCC).
The government has allocated G$5 million each to DCC and GCC, G$8 million to Enmore and G$1 million to Everest for rehabilitation works, but those figures are just in relation to the grounds since there is also investment in drainage around the facilities and other improvements, and works are currently ongoing at all these grounds.
Eye on 2024 World T20
The Sport Minister also has his eyes on Guyana potentially hosting matches at the Men’s World T20 in 2024 after it was confirmed West Indies and the United States of America will co-host the event.
According to the Minister, next year’s World Cup is a precursor to 2024 and will give a gauge as to what specifically is needed to host these massive multi-national tournaments.
“It [Under-19 World Cup] tests our readiness, it tests our strength, it tests our personnel [and] it tests our facilities and we know now where and how we have to make the investment to get ourselves into a strong position to host as many games possible for the 2024 World Cup,” the Minister stated.
For the Under-19 World Cup, Guyana will host teams such as India, Uganda, Scotland, South Africa, Ireland, Sri Lanka, along with Australia and West Indies, who play the tournament opener at Providence.
These eight teams will play 12 matches – warm-up and group matches – over a seven-day period and teams will be arriving from January 2.
The first warm-up match is on January 9 and the final fixture in Guyana on January 15.
Matches will be held at the National Stadium, Everest Cricket Club and Georgetown Cricket Club, while practice sessions will be staged at the Enmore Community Centre ground, Demerara Cricket Club, and Police Sports Club.
According to Tournament Director, Fawwaz Baksh, there is a strategic objective to inspire more young boys and girls to play the sport, and also develop cricket facilities across the region, noting that at the end of the tournament, there will be 21 facilities across the region that meet ICC standards.
Additionally, Benjamin Leaver, ICC Senior Event Manager, said he has been working with the Under-19 World Cup since 2014 and it is one event that is “close to the hearts of ICC” as it is a dynamic event that showcases the future stars.
“Cricket is different in the Caribbean, it is a different vibe, it is exciting and that is an exciting moment for many players,” he added.
The Local Organising Committee comprises Sabrina Pandey (Venue Operations Manager), Reon King (Cricket Operations Officer), Rayad Boyce (Sportainment), Steven Backreedy (Regional IT Consultant), Mario Moonsammy (Logistics Officer), Azad Ibrahim (Territorial Venue Officer) and John Ramsingh (Media and Marketing Officer).
There will be free entry to watch cricket’s future stars as, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, CWI has stipulated fans should visit www.u19cwc.com/tickets to get free tickets to allow organisers to control the number of spectators attending.