Cricket’s brightest young talents are counting down the days to the staging of the Under 19 Secondary Schools Cricket Tournament which was officially launched at the Massy United Insurance conference room on Thursday 6th February 2020.
The tournament is being coordinated by the Ministry of Youth Development and Sports in collaboration with the main sponsor, Massy United Insurance Limited, which has been doing so for the past 34 years.
According to the organizers, the tournament will bowl off on Wednesday 12th February at several venues around the island; sixteen teams including newcomers, Saint Lucia Sports Academy, are set to contest the 34th edition of the tournament of which St Mary’s College are the defending champions.
Sports Director, Patrick Mathurin; Director of J.E. Bergasse, Hollis Bristol; General Manager of Massy United Insurance Saint Lucia Limited, Faye Miller; Advertising and Promotion Coordinator for Massy United Insurance, Menellia Valcent, Ministry for Youth Development and Sports cricket coaches John Eugene and Junior Derose and members of the media were among those in attendance.
The Under 19 age group is a key area for the overall development of the grassroots game and for the 34 unbroken years Massy United Insurance have identified that the teenagers want more playing opportunities.
Addressing the gathering, Sports Director Patrick Mathurin said, “This is our longest run in terms of sponsorship for the tournament. I know that’s a record that may not be broken anytime soon, we believe in records and the longer you extend the more impossible it will be”.
“The Massy Under 19 Schools Cricket Tournament is very critical to us: it’s critical from a number of stand points. First, from the fact that we expose the young talents within the schools to cricket and secondly, they move on to the international level, and we have seen several of our players move on coming from the Massy United Insurance tournament. For the Ministry this augurs well and this is what we want to see in terms of the corporate partnership with our business establishments in Saint Lucia”.
There is a tweak in this year’s tournament as the organizers have maintained the normal groups. According to Mathurin, “It’s a turning point for the tournament, one that will be heavily criticized for the groupings but it’s largely because of transportation cost; Massy United Insurance has done their bit as a company. In 2021 we are looking to tweak the groups even more so teams from Castries can go down to Vieux Fort to compete and teams from the east can travel to the west coast, because the teams play the same people all the time. We did an experimental with the Big 8 Schools Football Tournament last year and it worked, and we intend to go that way with the cricket because we want to see the standard improve”.
“This year we want to see a bigger tournament and that is in preparation for 2021 which is expected to be a major one for Massy United Insurance as they celebrate 35 years of sponsorship; I can also say it is big for the Ministry because as we work with Massy United Insurance we could see great improvements,” he noted.
Mathurin said, “Without a doubt this year’s final will be held on a Saturday sometime in March so we can get the parents and members of the public to come out to support some of Saint Lucia’s best Under 19 cricketers on show; we know some of the issues that go with that but we are prepared for the issues”.
Faye Miller, Massy United Insurance General Manager said, “I am excited to hear that the final will be played on a Saturday; one of the things as sponsors we’ve always wanted to see, support from the Saint Lucian public and support from the parents as well – we haven’t seen that over the years, let us make it happen this year”.
“We have enjoyed the collaboration with the Ministry for Youth Development and Sports, your staff have done a wonderful job in organizing the tournament. Occasionally there will be minor hitches, but the staff we have worked with are always willing to deal with the obstacles; we want to express our appreciation, clearly, we are extremely happy otherwise we wouldn’t be sponsoring you for 34 years. Next year will be a bumper one; hopefully we will be in a position to support you if not at the same level we are supporting you now, at an even at a greater level,” Miller noted.
She added, “This year the tournament will be sponsored to the tune of EC$20,000.00 in cash and kind; in a season when a lot of sponsors are withdrawing and reducing their sponsorship in this hard economic time we managed to keep that level in terms of sponsorship… We are seeing stars like Kimani Melius and we are very proud of his achievements; Melius went on to captain the West Indies in the ICC Under 19 Cricket World Cup; we were all excited and that is what warmed our collective hearts and encourages us to continue with this kind of sponsorship. We have also seen the level and standard of play get better every year”.
Coach John Eugene when he spoke, noted, “It’s always an exciting time of year for us, we put together the fixtures and sort out the grounds for the tournament. As coaches, myself and Junior Derose, this is also important for us; during the tournament we do our scouting for our various national teams, Under 15, and Under 17”.
He continued, “This tournament is so vital for young cricketers in Saint Lucia – the passion they show every year is exemplary. The buzz within the schools is already happening. The grounds are being taken care of, the umpires have been notified and the school teams are in preparation. We expect this year’s tournament to be keenly contested because we see the up-rise of a number of players; their performance level has gone up”.
Hollis Bristol, Director, J.E. Bergasse took the time out to congratulate former national cricketer John Eugene for his latest achievement as Head Coach for the Windward Islands Under 15 cricket team.
In terms of this year’s tournament, Bristol said, “We at Massy United Insurance continue to be happy with what we’re doing for the young cricketers in Saint Lucia. I must also say, we have a new General Manager of Massy Barbados; he understands what we are doing and is very happy with it. We hope you can continue to get a little more, because when I showed him what we are able to achieve and what is happening he was excited”.
Bristol continued, “This tournament has produced a number of key players including Daren Sammy, Johnson Charles, John Eugene, now we have Kimani Melius – they have contributed a lot to Saint Lucia cricket. We are more than pleased to be associated with the Ministry for Youth and Sports in this amazing initiative for our young cricketing talents in Saint Lucia”.