Blankendal was No 1 choice’
A “football man” has taken over cricket’s top administrative post after Cal Blankendal was confirmed as its executive director of the Bermuda Cricket Board yesterday.
The former Bermuda Football Association first vice-president started in his new post this week, filling the position created by the departure of Neil Speight, the former chief executive.
Blankendal was one of three final applicants suggested for the position by the interview committee headed by David Sabir, the chairman of the National Sports Governing Body.
Lloyd Smith, the Bermuda Cricket Board president, said there were eight or ten applicants and that Blankendal was the “No 1 choice”.
Smith said: “It came down to a few choices in our last interviews and we made, from what we heard in those interviews, our No 1 choice. There were people who applied from overseas.”
“Mr Blankendal is in our community, understands our grass roots and that football and cricket are the same clubs. He understands their needs.
“His 18 years of executive management in sports project management, strategic planning, grassroots programmes and fund development will assist the BCB in continuing to advance our club affiliate programmes.We look forward to having Cal maintain our relations with the ICC, local government and corporate boards via his expertise in good corporate governance and relationship management.”
Blankendal, also a former Western Stars Sports Club president, has vast experience in football administration and plans to use those skills in his new role. He is now in the process of stepping away from some of his other duties at Bermuda Sports Management Group and Bermuda’s Brazilian Football School.
“This opportunity came along and we all know these opportunities don’t occur too often on this small island,” he said.
“I’m in a transition phase with my good friend Dennis Brown [regarding the role at the BBFS] that I played for many years. We’re in discussions about doing that at this time.”
Cricket has experienced several changes in administration over the past year, with treasurer Gershon Gibbons and vice-president Nyon Steede both stepping down, along with Speight.
Clay Smith quit as Bermuda head coach last year, while Fiona Holmes resigned as the BCB marketing director last month. That position is in the process of being filled. Smith replaced Lloyd Fray as president in November 2017 after Fray opted not to seek re-election.
“My main contribution has been making sure the board is on a financial standing much better than when I first came on board,” he said. “Cal comes in with fresh ideas to lead us going forward.”
Blankendal believes his administrative experience will be a good fit for the post.
“I gave some thought to the position, but initially did cast it aside because of the concerns from the community,” Blankendal said.
“The more I looked at the job description it spoke about the management and administration of the game. “There is one thing we have to be honest about; if you ask Cal Blankendal to bowl a yorker or get down the wicket and hit a six, no. That’s not the role of the executive director.
“If you ask Cal Blankendal to go out and liaise with sponsors, local government, international governing bodies, to deal with affiliates and the media, that’s the role of the executive director. And to make sure that the association remains financially stable and manages the budget.”
“I understand what clubs are going through because the infrastructure, whether Devonshire Recreation Club, Western Stars Sports Club, St George’s or St David’s cricket club, football and cricket are all played on the same grounds.
“Communication between all stakeholders, internal and external, is key to retaining staff, sponsors and player pool. The initial ambition is to ensure that cricket gets back to a high international standard, to continue to develop the grassroots game, and to ensure they continue to play post under-14, which is a challenge.
“Then to make sure there are enough international opportunities for the national team to advance. It’s almost mirroring what’s happening on the other side with the Concacaf Nations League [in football], with a similar set-up for cricket for our best players to play more matches at an advanced level.”