29th June 2020 13:15

After a five year contribution to Urlings Cricket Club, where my partner Trevor Erskine was VP and Captain, I offer up a few musings on the ups and downs of a village cricket club and what’s needed for there to be a future for cricket in Antigua. 

Trev and I stepped down because the executive want funds donated for Nets and a grassroots program for children to be misused for the Club House build. We can’t support that. Raise more funds to continue the club house build. Don’t abuse the generosity of donors and steal the opportunity to play cricket from children.

We leave Urlings CC with $EC44,000 for Nets and a grassroots program that can run for a couple of years. A deal with Neil Radford to provide professional nets at factory cost and 5 newly trained coaches. Laid out and ready to go, anything less than a thriving grassroots programme is a failure. We watch with interest.

Incredibly more than 500 cricket lovers gave money, love and encouragement to Urlings Cricket Club to raise a total of $EC135,000 EC or £42,000. Children in UK schools sold lollipops at their sports day. Cricket clubs hosted fancy dress parties. England cricket fans bought drinks from the Urlings CC bar at the West Indies Test Match. 140 people attended a dinner with Michael Holding and Andy Roberts spending £24,000 on auction prizes generously donated.

To all of you Trev and I say THANK YOU SO MUCH. You are awesome.

Trust is important. When a person gives money for children to play cricket you use that money for children to play cricket. When you give your word Mr President, keep it. When you give your written word Mr Treasurer, keep it. Walk your Talk. This is even more important in a country with a culture and reputation of corruption.

£42,000 is a lot of money. For that we all want to see kids playing cricket.

Cricket in Antigua, how brilliant you could be. Right now it’s full of old men talking about the glory days. Glorious they were, yes. 50 years ago. Current day facilities are non-existent or derelict. Clubs can barely get a team together and youth development is minimal. It doesn’t have to be this way.

Work with the men and women passionate about cricket NOW. Those on the cricket field with the vision, rolling the pitches, showing up to coach kids in their free time. Support them. Move away the men robbing energy because they want to be the ‘Big Man’. They are destructive. If they were going to contribute anything to grassroots cricket in Antigua, they’d have done it by now. Stop the culture of undermining. Celebrate achievements and learn appreciation. You will create and build this way.

Have some women at the table. There were times at committee meetings when men and Sir’s were outraged that I spoke on behalf of myself and Trevor. ‘Trevor, you can’t be a man and talk for yourself?’ They said. Embarrassing. What century are we in people? Women on the Antigua and Barbuda Cricket Board, Women on the West Indies Cricket Board, Women at the wicket smashing a six in Antigua, where are you? You are long overdue.

Teach competent organisational skills to sports clubs. It takes 18 months to set up a Friendly Society in Antigua, to open a bank account and set up an Exec Committee with a constitution. After all that effort the Treasurer doesn’t have to submit accounts, the Secretary doesn’t have to take minutes, the president can do what he wants,  the Executive Committee can dwindle to 3 people. There is no accountability.

Team with up with UK clubs and form friendships across the water, share ideas build relationships. Send players to the UK for the experience of playing on other surfaces and to broaden perspectives. Receive their players here in Antigua. Build an international community around coaching and leadership.

Work with the football community, unite instead of fight, build bridges not walls. While pitches are shared between football and cricket teams, co-ordinate so the football season finishes in time for the cricket season to begin. So that kids, youth and athletes can play both sports if they want to.

Right now, Urlings CC can just about make a team. This was beginning to change. Trevor nurturing a couple of youngsters onto the team and building the resources for a grassroots programme. Magnify this.

We leave you with few highlights of what was described by ‘The Big Men’ as the ‘Trevor and Kat Show’. Trev, I am so proud to be part of your show. A show all about the love of cricket, dedication to children and youth in Antigua playing cricket. I salute your heart, your vision, your patience and dedication. Put your sunglasses on if you can’t deal with people shining and sharing love.

A few highlights….

Setting up the Friendly Society, Executive Committee, Constitution and Bank Account, 18 month’s learning Antigua’s processes and systems.

The Urlings Cricket Club Emblem designed by George Williams

Trev setting up the Urlings CC Kids Club. Every Friday on the field, races, training, juice and ice, lots of fun, laughter and good times. Seeing two of those kids go on to play in the Urlings CC team.

Lord Taverners kit donation arriving for seniors and kids. Seeing the kids show up to the senior matches proudly wearing their first set of cricket whites, wanting to play.

Organising for Kofi James, Liberta to attend Lansdown Cricket Club, Bath, the club Sir Viv Richards first played at in Somerset. Kofi came back to captain the Leeward Islands. Playing cricket with my nephew and Kofi in Victoria Park and eating ice cream.

Organisng the West Indies Foundation Level Coaching for 14 coaches from Urlings, Jennings, Mahico, Rising Sun. They also received their child protection and First Aid and I remembered it’s the people playing cricket who love cricket that’s where it’s at.

Writing successful grant applications for Jumby Bay Foundation and Sir Andy Roberts Foundation both providing 10,000 EC for the Club House building, a home for training and learning of youth locally.

3 days, should have been 5! at the England v West Indies Test Match running the bar, meeting all the England fans supporting Urlings CC. Their G+T’s got stronger on day 3 drowning their sorrows.

Selling 20 copies of Simon Lister’s book ‘Fire In Babylon’, signed by Sir Andy Roberts to kick off the fundraising campaign, chatting with Simon Lister five years later at the London Fundraiser.

Organising a sold out London Fundraiser with a dear friend Paul Snudden. Michael Holding and Andy Roberts shared their stories and an auction raised £24,000. Michael Holding mentioned Urlings CC on the Sky TV Ashes coverage! Michael also insisted on paying for his ticket for the dinner too. We can all learn from this gentleman’s grace.

Fundraising over EC 134,000 – 90,000 EC towards the club house and EC44,000 towards nets and grassroots kid’s program.

For the Love of Grassroots Cricket, Community and Next Generation.

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