BASSETERRE, St. Kitts - THE West Indies Cricket Board’s Grassroots Programme has brought major improvements to the game in St Kitts, according to Leeward Islands Territorial Development Officer Junie Mitcham.
Speaking with SKNVibes today (Apr. 16), Mitcham explained that since its inception four years ago, the Grassroots Programme has raised the game of cricket in St. Kitts at the junior level, adding that players have moved on from the programme to represent their homeland, the Leeward Islands and West Indies at major competitions.
He said that since the programme began they have fostered the development in excess of 50 young aspiring cricketers who are still in the ranks of the Grassroots Programme.
“The Grassroots Programme is presently geared towards assisting and developing the players who have not been involved in the game but have an interest level in it. It is also to attract new players and broaden the scope of people who are interested in cricket.
“To name a few, you have Jeremiah Lewis who represented Leeward’s in the Under-19 and also being in the reserve for the West Indies Under-19, and you also have two of his brothers…You also have Xavier Saunders.”
Mitcham noted that the programme is currently in “three clusters that are being run in Sandy Point, Basseterre and St. Paul’s”.
He stressed that the programme has developed all aspects of the game locally, moreover in the age group level.
“Presently, they have the Leeward Islands Under-15 Tournament being played in St. Kitts and Nevis and 90 percent of the participants, not only from St. Kitts but throughout the other territories, have come from the Grassroots Programme. So, it is playing a pivotal role in the further development of cricket throughout the Leeward Islands and by extension the West Indies” Mitcham explained.
He added that the Grassroots Programme seeks also to enhance the club structure, which is currently weak in St. Kitts and the wider Caribbean territories.
“Presently, you don’t really have an organised club structure in the territories and so it is not benefitting the clubs as it ought to, because there is no real structure in place to assist the players when they leave the Grassroots Programme.”
Mitcham was adamant that the local administrations in the individual territories need “to play a more pivotal role in assisting the programme because we don’t know how long it is going to be around”.
The camp has taught young cricketers between the ages of 13-17 key principles of the game, including how to socialise on and off the field as well as when they would be competing against players from other territories.