West Indies star cricketer tells Digicel about his thoughts on grassroots cricket development
Wednesday 19th December 2012 – Kingston, Jamaica: West Indies star cricketer and Digicel Brand Ambassador, Chris Gayle is arguably one of the best cricketers the game has ever seen. He has the ability to score runs in the clutch and entertain his adoring fans with a certain class and finesse that is unmatched.
www.digicelcricket.com caught up with Chris to get his thoughts on the value of grassroots cricket programmes such as the Digicel/WICB Grassroots Cricket Programme and how it contributes to the development of the sport in the Caribbean.
Chris, as a very successful cricketer, you are an idol for hundreds of aspiring young cricketers across the region (and the world!). However, having someone to look up to is only the start as these young players need a structured outlet for talent development. How important do you think the Digicel Grassroots Cricket Programme is to the development of these young aspiring cricketers?
- I think it is very important to the development of cricket in the Caribbean – especially for young cricketers. I remember attending numerous grassroots cricket programmes when I was younger – they helped me to have a greater appreciation and love for the game. Young players need proper guidance at that age and I think the Digicel Grassroots Cricket Programme gives them the kind of attention they need to become successful players.
What are some of the key points these players should take from the programme?
- They need to first learn the basics of the game – defending your wicket, fielding techniques, batting, bowling and so on – these will help them to achieve greater success later on. Also, the values they learn from being in the programme will not only help them to improve in their game, but also improve in their academic endeavours, which I think is very important. Parents should support their children in all of their pursuits – both on and off the pitch – as this guidance, from an early age, will stay with them for many years to come.
In your opinion, how do you think young people will benefit from participating in cricket?
- Playing cricket teaches young people the value of dedication, discipline and teamwork. It also teaches them how to deal with success – as well as disappointment – so it builds character and also encourages them to develop a healthy and active lifestyle. The Digicel Grassroots Cricket Programme is an excellent way for young players in the Caribbean to learn the basics of cricket as well as important principles that they can apply in their lives.
Other sports may appear more profitable or glamorous in comparison to cricket, how do you think we can encourage more young players to pursue a career in cricket?
- It all depends on how well these players make use of the opportunities they are given. The Digicel Grassroots Cricket Programme gives young cricketers a fantastic opportunity to build a good foundation for the future – they should grab it with both hands and not take it for granted.
Where do you see the game of cricket going in the next couple of years?
- I think the game has a bright future. With initiatives such as the Digicel Grassroots Cricket programme, young cricketers are getting valuable hands-on training that will help them to be successful players. In addition, the introduction of the new 20/20 format and more tournaments throughout the season and opportunities to play professional cricket both regionally and internationally are increasing. When these opportunities come up, they should go for them without hesitation.
What do you think are the key personality traits of a successful cricketer?
- Dedication, a strong self-belief, the ability to perform under pressure and to be able to rebound after an unsuccessful game – which will happen at some point or another in any player’s career so they need to learn how to handle that.
What responsibility, if any, do successful cricketers have in inspiring and supporting young cricketers to go all the way in their careers?
- I think successful players should all lead by performance – younger players expect us to perform well at all times, so we should give them something to cheer for and also teach them to aspire to the same level of play.
What keeps you motivated?
- I am motivated by my own expectations and the confidence I have I myself I can accomplish my goals if I work hard enough – it’s all within me.
What would you be doing if you weren’t playing cricket?
- To be honest, I always knew that I wanted to be a professional athlete so if I wasn’t playing cricket I would be involved in another sport.
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