Kingston Wharves has underscored its commitment to the Under-15 Cricket Competition as the 32nd staging of the competition bowled off at the Ultimate Cricket Oval in St. Ann recently. The first match was played between defending champions St. Mary and St. Ann.
“We are proud that our support as title sponsors has helped to sustain the competition over the years and helped it to grow into the tournament it is today. Beyond that we are proud of the young lives we have helped to transform and guided along positive paths,” stated Simone Murdock Corporate Services and Client Experience Manager at Kingston Wharves.
Kingston Wharves has been title sponsors for the U-15 competition for a 32 unbroken years and supported the Under 19 competition for a number of years before that. “We are in it for the long haul and we view our involvement in the competition not merely as sponsors but as investment in young lives and by extension investment in Jamaica and the region.
Mrs. Murdock lauded the tournament’s role of providing opportunities to both young men and women. Singling out young Abigail Bryce, the first female in the (last year’s) tournament to make a century, Mrs. Murdock noted, “Our hope is that tournament will continue to see more female players making their mark on the international scene. As the competition develops, Kingston Wharves will continue to be by your side,” she told the JCA.
In light of the heatwave, Mrs. Murdock stated that KWL was working with the JCA to keep the children hydrated. “We are making an effort to put some spend in terms of managing the exceptionally hot summer because that is a big concern for us. We are working with the JCA to ensure that the youngsters get sufficient breaks out of the sun. We’ve also provided some cooling sleeves for all the teams so that they are adequately protected when they are out in the sun. “We have also provided water bottles for the players because the JCA is able to provide the water coolers,” she stated.
President of the JCA Wilford “Billy” Heaven thanked KWL for its consistent support for the U-15 competition. “Kingston Wharves is the longest serving member of the cricket fraternity in Jamaica; that is longevity – KWL is our best friends for life and lifetime partners,” Mr. Heaven stated.
Citing the importance of the competition, he observed: “You cannot build the house from the roof; you have to build from the foundation. Our strategy at the JCA is long-term. The thing about long-term strategies they take long to materialize and the outcome takes a longer time for everyone to see. Despite criticism we are steadfast in our purpose of building a sustainable cricket programme in Jamaica,” Mr. Heaven said.
JCA’s Cricket Organisation and Development Manager Oneil Cruickshank pointed to a major format change to the competition. “The most fundamental change that we have made is that we have moved from the limited overs version. We will be playing a one inning one day which means that the youngsters can bat as long as they can bat or as long as their teams wants them to bat or as long as the other team allows them to bat, so there’s no limit on the number of overs a particular team can face. We have also allowed each team to use four players who are outside the age criteria. Additionally we have allowed any female who has not yet reached the age of 19 at the start of the competition to participate,” he stated.
He also said this year 28 youngsters from the competition will be selected to begin preparation for the national team, stating, “It’s the first time we will be doing it but we have looked at that cohort of youngsters and we believe that they are going to need more time to be ready to compete in our regional tournament.”
JCA CEO Courtney Francis and President of the St. Ann Cricket Association Keith Walford also spoke at the function. Mr. Francis added his voice to hailing KWL for its role in the development of the U-15. He encouraged the players to play fair, make friends and stay injury free. Mr. Walford underscored the importance of the U-15 competition, noting that it was the foundation, adding that it was at this level that cricket in Jamaica and region will be rebuilt.
Tedain Noyan from the St. Mary team who spoke on behalf of the players shared how the competition has helped to increase his knowledge of the sport and assisted him to realise his dream of representing Jamaica on the national team.