CORPORATE sponsors National Gas Company (NGC) and the Trinidad and Tobago Cricket Board are working in partnership to take cricket development into every community in the nation and parents have been urged to take advantage of the opportunities offered to their children.
This was stated by Kumar Rampat, a West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) Territorial Development Officer (TDO) at the official launch of the NGC sponsored Grassroots and Under-15 programme on Saturday at the National Cricket Centre at Balmain, Couva.
“Engaging your child in beneficial leisure-time activity is most essential at this time in our country,” said Rampat at the function which was attended by NGC Community Relations Officer Alister Narinesingh; Tarandath Sammy, chairman of the TTCB Youth Development Committee; Suruj Ragoonath and Dudnath Ramkeesoon, CEO, and Cricket Operations Officer of the TTCB respectively.
In the presence of scores of young budding cricketers from throughout Trinidad and Tobago, parents, teachers and coaches, Rampat said that the Grassroots programme caters to Under-13 and under-15 boys and girls in each of the eight zones affiliated to the TTCB.
He said the total number of participants in the programme number more than 300, with 24 youngsters in each age group who receive tutoring at 14 centres from coaches of the highest caliber, with Level III certification at six of the eight zones.
Also involved in the programme in the majority of zones are coaches who have experience at the highest level having represented Trinidad and Tobago and the West Indies in cricket.
Rampat said that initial plan of the programme was to start with two centres in each TTCB affiliated zones which will then be increased as it builds its integrity and popularity and he called on parents to play their part in accessing the opportunities now presented at their doorstep.
“With high-quality coaches and centres within easy reach, the general public should be eager to be part of it and we are prepared to embrace the growth in participation from all corners of the country,” said Rampat.
He said that the Under-12 programme is conducted along the same format of the Grassroots initiative but also seeks to engage the youngest children attending primary schools, and impacts the lives of over 200 participants with each centre in every education district catering for 30 youngsters.
Rampat observed that only about one quarter of the more than four hundred primary schools are involved in the cricket competitions of the National Primary Schools Cricket League (NPSCL).
“There is absolutely no doubt that there are hundreds of other excellent budding cricketers who are not reached by the NPSCL initiatives. This Under-12 NGC/TTCB programme will not only cater for those who are already engaged in the regular schools competition but scores of others who are not,” said Rampat.
He aid the objective of the Under-12 initiative is to absorb 30 of the best youngsters in each zone and offer them a system of training to accelerate their physical, social and intellectual development.
“It is also hoped that this resource bank will provide te backbone of the recently revived Inter-District Competition administered by the NPSCL. With a significant number of hours training by competent and qualified coaches, the participants will have ample opportunities to advance and hone their skills.
“The corollary to this training and development is the enhancement of the character and credibility of the inter-district competitions in the earlier phase of development, and the age-group zonal matches in the latter stage,” said Rampat.
He said the programme is designed to inspire and lead the young budding cricketers to greater heights, originally thought to be unreachable. He said parents must seize this opportunity and not confine themselves to bringing their children to the venue.
“Engage the coaches, probe to uncover what plans they have for your child, share what your plans are and create the atmosphere for mutual co-operation. Your child will definitely flourish in this learning environment,” Rampat said.
In his short address, NGC’s Narinesingh said that the Grassroots and Under-12 programmes co-ordinated by the TT Cricket Board were a perfect fit for the fulfillment of the Pt Lisas, Couva based company’s portfolio as responsible corporate citizens.
“The programes are thoughtful and impacts in a significant way on the lives of the young cricketers who learn the basics of the game and gain valuable experience as they are moulded into stars of the future,” said Narinesingh.
He also reiterated NGC’s commitment to supporting initiatives like the Grassroots and Under-12 programmes, and the soon to be introduced initiative along the same lines for young girls, and for youngsters in the sister island of Tobago.
Also making a contribution at the launch was Jezron Ramjagessar, a third form student of St Stephen’s College in Princes Town who spoke on the positive impact that the NGC/TTCB Grassroots programme has had on his studies, health, extra-curricular activities and cricket development.
All around he said the cricket programme has ensured that he kept good grades in school, lost some weight to maintain his health and improve his competitiveness, and the holistic development as a student-athlete who also plays a musical instrument.