ABCA urged to focus on youth development

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The Antigua & Barbuda Cricket Association (ABCA) has come in for harsh criticisms from former national and Cricket West Indies player, Winston Benjamin, who has accused the national association of neglecting the development and grooming of its young players.
The former fast bowler alleges that the association seems content with sitting back and allowing others to “do the work”.
“The ABCA needs to get up off their bums and do some work and put a youth programme in place and pay a coach or coaches but we are not doing anything. Everybody just keeps talking and it’s like a talk shop or a talk show and talk shows don’t win games,” he said.
“If you look at our players you will see how lackadaisical they are and you see that every school year, after the schools competition, the ACA does not have a camp. They depend on the schools league and the school teams and the school coaches to do their work when they are supposed to be the ones doing the work. The national coach is supposed to be paid by the ABCA and not using school coaches to do the work,” he added.
Benjamin pointed to the practice of sending a national team to the annual Sir Garfield Sobers tournament in Barbados as one of the issues that needs to be rectified. The competition, he said, is schools based, which means that it is the champion school team that should attend, while the national players should be vying for a spot in the Leeward Islands youth teams.
“Antigua does not have a development programme and what they depend on is the schools league competition and hence why the ministers are so adamant and involved that the best Antigua team goes to Barbados. If we are looking for the best Antigua team to go forward then we can’t be worrying about Sir Garfield Sobers,” he said.
“Take the Antiguan players and let them go and try out for the Leeward Islands team and if they are not selected then they go to Barbados but you can’t take them and deprive them of the opportunity to play for Leewards because that is what they are doing and you can check the history of the Sir Garfield Sobers tournament and you will see it’s a schools competition and we are sending our national team down there,” Benjamin added.
The former player who is now a coach, has also urged the association to be more creative and find ways to bring much needed revenue into its coffers.
President of the ABCA, Leon “Kuma” Rodney, has hinted that its youth tournament could return this year but is yet to announce a date and or format for the competition.

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