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BCB unveils new five-year blueprint to revamp grassroots cricket

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Five year plan: Arnold Manders, seen here coaching his Under-19 team BCB team in an Evening League match, unveiled a five-year plan to improve cricket from the grassroots (Photograph by Lawrence Trott)

The Bermuda Cricket Board unveiled its five-year strategic plan to improve the sport on island at all levels from youth to the senior national team.

Free hit: Arnold Manders, then the national coach, coaches a youngster during the Hiscox Cricket Festival at the National Stadium north field in 2014. The BCB president has a five-year plan to improve local cricket (File photograph by by Nicola Muirhead)

The plan, called the 2022-2026 Strategic Plan, and presented by president Arnold Manders and Cal Blankendal, the executive director, outlined four specific areas which will be focused on including participation, high performance, infrastructure and finance. Increasing the number of girls playing cricket at youth level is also a key part of the plan.

Girl power: Kayla Raymond, left, and LeiLanni Nesbeth both travelled to South Africa with the Bermuda National Academy under-13 boys' team in 2014. The BCB has a five-year plan to increase participation of girls in cricket.

“The first thing I said was we needed to have a strategic plan put in place,” said Manders, a former Bermuda player, captain and coach.

Clean sweep: Brianna Ray and Danni Watson enjoy a game of cricket in the 2017 Middle Schools All-Star match. (File photograph by Lawrence Trott)

“Even though I was high performance, representing the country and coaching seniors, under-19s, under-15s, under-13s and running summer camps, it is most important that we have money so that we can ensure that we can do the things that we we have put forward in this strategic plan.

“Finance is probably the most important part, you can’t do a lot if you don’t have money. If we want our teams to be prepared then they need to have coaches, they need to have overseas coaches coming in and need to be travelling abroad and playing. It is the only way they are going to get any better and so financing is very important.”

He added: “When developing a strategic plan you have to decide what values you want and which values we should be pushing as a cricket board. We wanted it to be ambitious, responsible, inspirational and inclusive.”

Cricket has faced challenges in the last two years with shortened seasons because of the Covid pandemic.

“Cricket is such a valuable component to the island, it engages young persons, male and female, and is the only local sport to compete in a World Cup, in 2007 [ICC World Cup] and 2008 [Under-19 World Cup],” said Blankendal who also spoke of the importance of club infrastructure. This year, grounds will be selected for infrastructure upgrades and will sign partnership agreements.

Sponsorship has also played an important role in the development of cricket domestically, something Manders acknowledged. “We have a great relationship with the sponsors that we have now, who have continued to support us over Covid-19, particularly Hiscox and the Centennial Foundation/BOBF who deal with the national academy and under-19s,” he said.

“But I think we can get more outside assistance instead of depending on ICC funding. We have a financial committee that has been put in place to seek funds but to also look to use our money more wisely.

“To improve domestic cricket, I think they need to play at a higher level, maybe if we get a senior team with under-19s and foreign players coming in, we can have a Twenty20 of 50 overs competition before our teams travel.

“Maybe even looking at a mini Indian Premier League to assist with tourism as well. We’ve got a lot of work to do in a very challenging climate, but we’ll do our best to raise the funds to ensure our programmes can be run properly.”

Manders, who captained Western Stars and played alongside his younger brothers Andre and Anthony when Stars was one of the Island’s top teams, said the focus on youth development will also include girls cricket.

“The BCB will transform girls and women’s cricket, driving cricket’s progress to becoming an all-inclusive gender neutral sport,” he said.

“The participation committee will increase the number of girls playing cricket in the youth leagues, working in collaboration with primary, middle and senior schools. This will provide an opportunity to inspire the players to develop a passion for cricket.

“A major part of the programme is to ensure that our players get the right training, play enough elite games so that when they move into the seniors and get into these tournaments they are not getting found wanting because they don’t have the skills, fitness and mental conditions.

“If we start it from young, then they should be able to transfer that when they move into the senior teams, whether it be the under-19s senior ladies and senior men.”

Blankendal added: “One of the top five mandates from ICC to grow the game is the playing by women. We believe that will give us another avenue to make cricket more attractive to the general public.”

In 2022 the BCB’s plan is to have four girls teams in each youth age group from under-8 to under-16, and in 2023 to host under-8 to under-16 girls festivals and Super 8s to identify potential players to be a part of the pathway, emerging fast track and elite.

By 2024 the goal is to have an elite girls team participating in the ICC under-19 tournament and for under-13 to under-16 girls to participate in overseas specialists camps and tours against the USA, Canada and Cayman Islands. Also, for under-19 girls to transition to the national women’s team.

The BCB strategic plan document can be found online here

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Published January 14, 2022 at 8:00 am (Updated January 16, 2022 at 9:43 am)

BCB unveils new five-year blueprint to revamp grassroots cricket

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