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BCB hoping cricket can be an option for youngsters post-Covid

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Kayla Raymond, left, and LeiLanni Nesbeth travelled to South Africa in 2014 with the Boys Under-13 Academy cricket team. The BCB is encouraging more girls to consider cricket as a summertime sport (File photograph by Akil Simmons)

Kellie Smith, the Bermuda Cricket Board’s first vice-president and head of youth development, hopes cricket will be an option for youngsters once sport returns to some degree of normality in the summer months.

Bowler Katherine Bean-Rosario and batter Ramiah Brangman, both also talented runners and footballers, take part in the BCB Easter Cricket Camp in 2018 (File photograph by Lawrence Trott)

Competitive sport was halted in the first week of December, including those popular with youngsters such as athletics, football and netball. By the time restrictions are eased sufficiently to allow sport to return, cricket could be a viable alternative for youngsters, Smith says.

“We are planning to go ahead with our leagues but it all depends on Covid,” Smith said this week. “But we are still planning for a full season and we encourage the young people to start thinking about cricket because, with the lockdown, we know a lot of them haven’t played any sports.

“Even if they haven’t played cricket, they should give it a try. It’s considered a safe sport because it’s not a contact sport.

“As we approach the cricket season we want to get them to start thinking cricket, even playing backyard cricket at home.”

Smith made history last November when she became the board’s first female vice-president, under new president Arnold Manders. “We’re just waiting to see what’s going to happen with everything as far as Covid, but I’m enjoying it,” she said of her new role, which will obviously get busier once the season starts.

She has worked for a number of years on developing girls cricket and is putting an emphasis on introducing more young girls to the game. Camps for juniors are planned again for the Easter and the summer.

“Once the registration comes out for either of the camps, we urge them to register early because the spots fill up quickly,” she said. “With Covid, you are only allowed so many.

“We’re encouraging girls to sign up as well, and girls are free. If we can get enough girls, having a girls team would be our aim.

“We are trying to get more girls teams playing. We had one [girls] team in the under-11s and under-13s in the past.”

Smith added: “The other thing we are stressing is that all our youth coaches be Scars-trained, and any volunteers assisting teams to be Scars-trained as well.”

The age groups range from peewees (5-7 years) and then under-8, under-11, under-13. “Girls can play a year level down in the age groups that we have, so in under-8 they can play up to age 10, under-11 up to 13 and under 13 up to 16,” said Smith in explaining how girls would fit into the teams.

“Sometimes if we’re short we have invited a few boys to play on the girls’ teams, and there has never been an issue.

“We kick it off with the peewees, which we normally start at the end of this month, then the under-8, under-11, under-13 and under-16. Sometimes it’s clubs and sometimes schools enter teams.

Two talented girls, Brianna Ray and Rose Simmons, are developing their cricket at boarding schools in England. Ray is at Sedbergh School in Cumbria and Rosie is a student at Felsted School in Essex.

Also earning a scholarship to attend a boarding school at the same time as Simmons in late 2017 was Jermel Proctor, who went to Maidwell Hall in Northampton. Both were members of the BCB youth academy, with Proctor 12 and Simmons 13 at the time they received the scholarships.

LeiLanni Nesbeth, now playing football at Florida State University, was also an accomplished youth cricketer while growing up in St David’s, even playing in the Junior Eastern Counties. She played football and cricket, and competed in athletics while at Bede’s School in East Sussex, before moving across the pond to FSU.

Nesbeth and Kayla Raymond, who also runs track and won her first senior schools Front Street Mile race in 2020, travelled to Cape Town, South Africa, with the National Academy under-13 boys cricket team in 2014.

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Published February 20, 2021 at 8:00 am (Updated February 19, 2021 at 5:54 pm)

BCB hoping cricket can be an option for youngsters post-Covid

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