WINDIES VETERAN KENNY BENJAMIN IS BATTING FOR OUR YOUTHSThursday 13th January 2011
By Joanne C. Hillhouse
The gap between potential and victory can be gaping; skill building and opportunity can be the bridge. The Kenny Benjamin Youth Festival 2011, now in its second year, is striving to be that bridge. “Everybody is focusing on winning instead of the development of cricket,” said former Windies player Kenny Benjamin, marquee co-founder of the eponymous event alongside Lucia Mings and Brenda Lee Browne.
The INET sponsored festival provides the opportunity for young cricketers to improve their game and test their mettle, for cricket fans to come out and support the teams, and for adults in the game to bone up on their skills – in event management, coaching, media relations, club development, scoring and umpiring – taking what they’ve learnt back to their respective communities. With respect to the Under 13 competition, there are four registered teams; the date is February 5th 2011 and the venue is the Sir Vivian Richards Cricket Stadium.
Benjamin said the idea was to approach development from the lowest level with the youngsters, and in the broadest sense, with those who are involved in the development of the sport at the grassroots level, in clubs across the country. “All the workshops are a very integral part of a development structure,” Benjamin told Antigua Nice.
With that in mind, they hope to build on last year’s lukewarm response, not in interest but in attendance, to the first time event. They’re targeting the clubs and associations and would be happy with a turnout of about 60, Benjamin said. “Eventually we will expand it to take in other sports and maybe move it to other islands,” he forecasted.
It’s clearly something he’s passionate about. “One can never really plan this but as you get older you realize you can make a serious contribution,” said Benjamin. He’s certainly well positioned to do so as a ‘90s era batsman and bowler with the West Indies cricket team and as president of the Liberta Sports Club which he describes as one of the most organized clubs in Antigua. “That is truly because of the fact that we recognize that winning isn’t everything,” Benjamin said, “so we have youth programmes that are beneficial…good organizational structure…wonderful sponsors because we have a structured organization and are always looking about the youth and community.”
He sees a direct link between nurturing the youth and community, through programmes like the Kenny Benjamin Youth Festival, and reducing crime and delinquency in society. In fact, while he hopes to encourage the youngsters to be competitive, he also hopes to get across the message that winning is not everything. “The key to me is hard work at the end of the day…and obviously discipline is important,” Benjamin said. He hopes to have some of his former Windies playing buddies to reinforce these messages.
So, what do they need to pull this off? Volunteers, sponsors, participation. “This is not about Kenny Benjamin at all,” … said. “It is about making a right turn in terms of cricket and our community life for our youngsters. I want them to be a part of making a change in the lives that we live.” Taking the lessons of the Festival back to the communities, therein, he said, lies the real impact.
For more or to register, call 724-5868.
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