Inspiring next generation is crucial
The celebrities helped raise about $6,000 for the Bermuda Cricket Board youth programme during the Hiscox Cricket Festival last Saturday, but the day was clearly more about the money.
Tremendous enthusiasm was shown by the youngsters as basic cricketing skills were taught. After all, what youngster, male or female, does not like playing with a bat and ball?
The day began with a skills and drills competition for 11 and under players who were put through basic skill drills in the three disciplines of batting, bowling and fielding.
More than 100 youngsters participated under the watchful eye of several coaches including Arnold Manders, the Bermuda coach,
Even the Bermuda Under-17 players came out to assist with the coaching.
“This is like a talent identification programme as some of the coaches here are coaching in the BCB programme, so they can identify the talent and put names forward,” Manders said.
“We need to do a lot more of this, to find the players and make sure they are in the proper age appropriate programmes.”
Manders, who grew up playing cricket with his brothers at St John's Field near his home and went on to captain Western Stars, admits that other activities are occupying youngsters' lives these days.
“It's up to us to push it, and I'm pleased with Hiscox for hosting this, whatever you want you can get from Hiscox,” Manders said. ‘We're looking for companies to start investing in the youth of Bermuda and I'm really pleased with what Hiscox is doing.”
Other companies sponsoring youth cricket in Bermuda are Tokio Millennium Re, with the Peewees and under eights, the Bank of Bermuda Foundation with the 14 and under and BF&M who sponsor the under-17s and Player Development League.
Grant Smith, another coach who also helps out with the Bermuda under-15 team, had full praise for the raw talent on display.
“At events like this the numbers are always good, the parents and sponsors support it quite well and the enthusiasm is fantastic,” Smith said.
“This is the first year that we've had the skills and drills competition and everyone has responded quite well.
“At this level you do want to keep the enthusiasm going and you do always spot the exceptional ones, the one with that extra bit of talent.
“You keep an eye on them and keep them involved and try not to let them drop out of the system.”
Alex Dore, 17, was one of the youth squad players helping out on Saturday, giving support to players just a few years younger than himself. Dore is already a regular for Southampton Rangers and can see others following in his footsteps.
“What I can see is a lot of the youngsters have potential and some of them will be better than me,” Dore said.
“At that age I really liked the game and those young guys really look like they like the game. With that they'll progress more. I try to be a good role model for them and to give something back to the community.”
Roger Dill, a former spinner and now a top umpire, is also giving back as a coach with the Young Men's Social Club under-11 team.
“For some of them this is probably the first time they have done any organised cricket and if they continue this programme in this age group they will progress as they move along,” Dill said.
‘I think it is a good breeding ground for future players. What I would have liked to have seen in the skills would be to give them a teaser in some of the laws, such as what is a legal catch.
“At Social Club I try to give them something on the laws every training session so they can know how many ways you can get out. If they learn the game and also the laws at the same time it will grow with them.”
Michelle Richardson's son, Jarryd, plays for St George's Prep and was also selected for the celebrity match. The great grandson of Leroy Richardson, the former St George's Cup Match captain, is talented in both cricket and football.
“We have supported this function on numerous occasions, even when he didn't play we found it a wonderful day,” Richardson said.
“He's an avid sportsman, plays cricket and football, and luckily in our neighbourhood we still have little boys who come outside and play so there is always cricket or football in the yard.
“He doesn't know what to do with himself if no one is outside playing. They still play a lot of sport, and often, and that's where he is happiest. I would say in St George's cricket and football is still being played in the yards.
“His grandfather has been helping him to turn his hand since he was little. Jarryd was two and he knew all the cricket signals.
“He used to hold the babysitter hostage to watch cricket on TV, not cartoons or Sesame Street, he wanted to watch cricket.”