SDF-backed summer camp nurturing cricket talent

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

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SANTA CRUZ, St Elizabeth — The youth summer camp idea first came about as an initiative for St Elizabeth cricket.

Then it evolved to include Under-14 boys and girls from Manchester, St Elizabeth and Westmoreland over three weeks in late July and August with support from the Sports Development Foundation (SDF).

As explained by training camp director Junior Bennett each parish kept a one-week camp at home. Then the best players were selected for two weeks of follow-up training and assessment at St Elizabeth Technical High School (STETHS) in early August.

When the Jamaica Observer visited recently for the final day of the training camp about 50 youngsters including three girls were involved in intensive fielding, batting, bowling and wicket keeping drills.

Coaches included Bennett, who is the current chairman of selectors for Jamaica's national senior team and a former national Under-19 and national senior coach; Barry Barnes, coach of Manchester High School; Clive Ledgister, STETHS coach; Michael Salmon, ScotiaBank Kiddies Cricket programme; and Carl Wright, former Jamaica wicketkeeper/batsman who is in charge of the St Elizabeth's Kingston Wharves Under-14 team.

Bennett, who was elected president of the St Elizabeth Cricket Association late last year, was pleased with the speed at which the young campers improved over the three-week training period.

“We went through all facets, fielding, batting, keeping, keeping… and they (participants) have been improving really rapidly. We just hope that going forward we can get the resources to keep a programme like this going forward. We are extremely grateful to SDF for the help they gave us for this camp,” Bennett said.

An elite group of fourteen Under-14 representatives have been selected from the camp and they will be tested in a game against a similar age-group team from Kingston on August 29.

Bennett said the plan is long-term, to keep the elite players and others breaking through together as potential recruits to the domestic franchise Southern Seals team in years to come.

“If you want to say it's a junior southern seals team, then yes, that's exactly what we are looking for,” he said.

—Garfield Myers

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