By Neto Baptiste
Coaches working in the ongoing Under-15 Girls Programme, a joint effort between the Antigua and Barbuda Cricket Association (ABCA) and Cricket West Indies (CWI), have praised the initiative while highlighting at least one area in need of improvement.
Senior national men’s coach, Pernel Watley, was particularly pleased with the numbers he has seen thus far.
“We have seen a lot of new faces and every week we see new faces. Last week we had 24 [participants] and this week we have 26, and it’s a different group of girls from the one last week because last week we gave out some uniforms, and we don’t see any today so it’s a different group of girls,” he said.
“We are seeing a lot of interest over the last three weeks and I think if we continue we should see some good development here,” he added.
The programme was jumpstarted three weeks ago at the Rising Sun Ground and is aimed at exposing young girls, 15-years-old and younger, to the game. It is also designed to help the local association identify talented players ahead of the CWI women’s tournament next year.
Watley highlighted some of the areas they will be looking at throughout the course of the initiative which is slated to run for 22 sessions.
“We are working on batting, bowling, fielding; so we are basically showing them how to hold a bat in terms of the grip, the stance, the back-lift, and basically we go through the basics of bowling where we do the grip first, the run up, the delivery stride, the delivery and then the follow through for bowling,” the coach said.
“We are also doing the basic fielding where we are teaching the underarm flick, two-handed interception, chasing and retrieving,” Watley added.
Another national coach John Archibald, also welcomed the initiative, adding that his only concern is with the age range currently attending the sessions given that the planned competition will target Under-15s.
“You are talking about under-15 [competition] and if you look around you are seeing some very small young people, but we would need [players] somewhere around the 12-13 age group if we are talking about competition within the next [few months] because it is going to be 20-plus sessions and then you are going to have a competition, so I don’t see this materialising in the way we think it ought to materialise,” he said.
President of the ABCA, Leon Rodney, said in a previous interview that 22 sessions will be held before a number of exhibition matches are held to determine which players will move to the next stage. The cricket association, Rodney added, will however continue to work with those players not selected in the national set-up.
Sessions run from 9-11 a.m. every Saturday.