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Tuesday 14th August 2012

This past month has been an exciting time for Caribbean athletes. At the official opening of the WICB/Sandals Cricket Academy, the Minister fo State with responsibility for Sports, Sen. Hon. Winston Williams Jr., fostered the excitement of the opening of the camp which will cater to the top 14 Under 15 Cricketers and made highly-noted remarks in regards to the achievenments of our Caribbean athletes. Take a look at what was said.

"Over the last few days, the 2012 Summer Olympics have filled the airwaves, the television screens, newspaper headlines and of course, the world wide-web. The event has captured the hearts, eyes and ears of viewers all over the world. The Olympics, is the premier sporting event in the entire world.

It’s time when years of hard work, intensive training,strict discipline, sacrifice and self denial all come to a climax over a 17 day period when athletes in a wide range of sports showcase their highest levels of skills with the hope that they can stand on the podium to receive their medals.

If you took the time to look into the eyes of each athlete, you would have seen the drive, determination and desire to excel. You would have seen their strong desire to represent their country with pride, to carry their flag as if their life depended on it.

If you watched their performance, you would have seen incredible grit and a commitment to complete the course, even when the going got rough.

No one missed the excitement all across the region celebrating the performance of our Caribbean athletes as the first gold medal came home to the OECS in the person of Kirani James and the second gold medal forTrinidad and Tobago was placed around the neck of the Javelin athletes 

The Caribbean came together everywhere and celebrated our athletes. It was almost as if the fervor from the old West Indies Cricket Team days had returned.

Ladies and gentlemen, coaches, cricketers, I hope I have painted a picture in your mind of the rewards that come from setting goals and working hard to achieve them. The recent successes of the West Indies Cricket Team in their battle against New Zealand have served to ignite hope that we are indeed on our way back.  It will be a long, hard road, but I urge you to believe that it is possible, I urge you to do your part to make it possible. I call upon us all to do our part in IGNITING THE PASSION in the sport of Cricket.

Today’s launch provides evidence that there is still tremendous goodwill among our people to ignite the passion of cricket. Thank you to the West Indies Cricket Board for providing the programme and resources in bring cricketers from across the Caribbean to Antigua and Barbuda to participate in this the third, 2 week residential cricket camp.  Thank you WICB.

Team Guyana!

Team Jamaica!

Team St. Maarten!

Team St. Kitts Nevis!

Team Anguilla!

& Host Country Team Antigua and Barbuda

To those visiting our shores, continue to experience our warm welcome and hospitality. I invite you to return again. 

This camp would not have been a success without the Sandals Foundation, founders of the concept first in St. Lucia over a decade ago and now in Antigua and Barbuda for the third year. The opening and closing ceremonies, delicious meals, trophies and other support for the event have been conducted with the usual Sandals style and elegance over the last two years and this year we are well on track for a three-peat.

My Government is once again pleased to support this initiative with accommodations, transportation and administrative support.  It is this motivation to produce world class athletes that drives us to do the best we can to invest in our youths. The youth, both male and female are the future of our cricket; you are the stars of the national teams, regional teams.

It is for this reason that I have fulfilled our commitment in identifying seven public fields across the island as cricket only fields. It is hoped that this strategy will serve as a mechanism to increase participation and improve performance in cricket. There will no longer be seasonal cricket in Antigua and Barbuda. It will be 365 days per year, seven days per week. I look to the Antigua and Barbuda Cricket Association for strong leadership in this most important project.  

It is the passion for cricket which has motivated the OECS Sports Ministers to have met in Antigua and Barbuda in April of this year to address the sustainable development of Cricket.  As a member of the OECS Council of Sports Ministers, I reconfirm the Council’s commitment that it will not be business as usual for cricket in 2013 and beyond. In fact, the Declaration of St. John’s which emerged from the two day meeting made a number of decisions on the way forward. The Sports Ministers Council agreed: 

1.     That LICA and WICBC would provide individual strategic plans as well as a formal Memorandum of Understanding between both territorial boards to the Council of Sports Ministers for incorporation into a single integrated document for charting the way forward for cricket in the sub-region.

2.     That at the next meeting of LICA/WICBC Ministers of Sports, scheduled to take place in Grenada in the first week of October 2012, the following would be considered:

a.     A mechanism for providing financial support for LICA/WICBC to assist in offsetting budget deficits;

b.     A mechanism for providing greater support for touring OECS school cricket teams;

c.      A comprehensive study and implementation of existing sponsorship mechanisms in member territories;

d.     A comprehensive study and implementation of options for sea travel and existing taxes relating to sub-regional air travel for cricketing teams.

e.      Joint management and use of national stadia; such as the Vivian Isaac Richards Stadium

f.       Bulk procurement and distribution of sporting equipment in a manner similar to the OECS model for ordering pharmaceutical supplies.

Our upcoming meeting in Grenada will be pivotal to the forward thrust of the sport. I am also pleased to share that the concept of OECS schools’ cricket tournament has received the nod of the territorial associations. There will be more cricket tournaments for better performance at the youth school & Youth level. I have also received support or this concept from the Minister of Sports Trinidad and Tobago where we hope to host the first Caribbean Sports Minister’s meeting in 2013. Our passion has been re-ignited! There is no putting out this flame. Let the fire burn even brighter.   

With all hands on deck, from the corporate level, to the cricket associations to the cricketer to the fan in the village and in the parks, we will rise. We must get the best training for our best athletes from the earliest levels. To all the young men gathered here, you are an important part of the process. You are the best of the under 15s in our territory.  Commit yourselves to working hard, putting into practice the lessons learned and serving your territory and region to the best of your ability. 

Your success is within reach! Grasp it with both hands. Bowl that ball to smash the stumps. Bat that ball aim for the boundary for and beyond ignite our passion continue the promise.

I am once again pleased to represent the Government of Antigua and Barbuda as a partner in the WICB/Sandals Foundation Under-15 Cricket Academy and officially launch the 3rd Edition of this Elite Training Programme

Thank you all."

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