The Republic Bank ‘Five for Fun’ Cricket programme is rolling closer to the county and country festival finals scheduled for early March 2023 as 75 primary schools from across the three counties continue training for the preliminary round of matches.
According to a release, the zonal preliminary matches will be played between February 13-24 with five schools in each zone competing to emerge as zonal champions to secure a spot at the county finals.
The participating primary schools have been grouped into 15 zones which include Upper Corentyne, Lower Corentyne, West Berbice, New Amsterdam, Canje, Upper Demerara, East Bank Demerara, Georgetown, East Coast Demerara, West Demerara, Leguan, Wakenaam Island, South Essequibo Coast, East Bank Essequibo, South Essequibo Coast and North Essequibo Coast.
Republic Bank ‘Five for Fun’ Cricket is part of Cricket West Indies’ Future Stars Programme to introduce cricket to primary school-aged children. This new five-a-side format drives participation, activity and inclusivity with mixed teams of boys and girls.
According to Reon King, former Guyana and West Indies player, who is the programme coordinator, “Over 1,000 primary school boys and girls have already been exposed to “Five for Fun” cricket training enabling them the opportunity to learn the fundamentals of the game. From a cricket perspective, both CWI and GCB [Guyana Cricket Board] are excited about giving our children the opportunity to play and learn the game in a fun and safe environment.
From all feedback from coaches, teachers and some parents, the children are excited about the programme, and can’t wait to showcase their skills during the first stage of matches at the zonal preliminaries.
King added: “This programme is critical to the foundation of the cricket development pathway, especially as we restart cricket post-COVID-19, both recreationally and competitively in primary and secondary schools across Guyana.
Since its launch in June 2022 to this point, the programme has offered over 30 existing cricket coaches the opportunity to complete refresher coaching courses, and has exposed school teachers to foundation-level coach education training.
We are extremely grateful for Republic Bank’s partnership on this initiative, with the support of the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Sports to make this important initiative a reality.”
Dr. Ritesh Tularam, Deputy Chief Education Officer commented; “The Ministry of Education is pleased to be a partner with Cricket West Indies, Republic Bank Limited and the Guyana Cricket Board on this timely cricket initiative at the primary schools’ level, which intersects and complements the Education Sector’s Plan for 2021-2025; Vision 2030.
This initiative supports the plan’s core objective to ensure the well-rounded development of students through formal and informal education platforms such as sports. Cricket is one such medium, which is historic, usable, relatable, and relevant in our application to holistic education development.”
Dr. Tularam continued; “The Republic Bank Five for Fun Cricket programme will be key in allowing our children to build fundamental life skills, with the possibility of continuing their cricket craft as a career, which is something important and tangible. This is in keeping with the Honorable Minister of Education, Dr. Priya Manickchand’s vision to ensure that each child is exposed to one sport in school.
We at the Ministry of Education stand committed to the programme. The school teams have been training diligently, and we can’t wait for the preliminary matches to bowl off.”
The next stage of the programme will be the county festival finals, hosted in Essequibo on Monday, 27 February, Berbice on Wednesday, 1 March and Demerara on Friday, 3 March (match venues to be confirmed).
This will be followed by the country festival final hosted in Georgetown, Demerara on Monday 10 April (match venue to be confirmed).
The programme is a regional partnership between Republic Bank Limited and CWI, in collaboration with the GCB, the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports.
The release further noted that ” While the GCB has adjusted the schedule to restart senior hardball cricket on 25th February 2023, primary schools softball cricket has not been interrupted and will continue as scheduled.”