The Dominica Cricket Academy was officially launched over the weekend at Benjamin’s Park in Portsmouth.
Ambassador Emmanuel Nanthan, President of the Dominica Cricket Association, declared the Academy open at an initiation ceremony on Sunday 14th December.
The Academy intends to prepare young cricketers for first-class careers in the sport.
They will be taught a variety of skills in the areas of batting, bowling, fielding, mental and sports medicine and science as well as incorporating a holistic approach for overall self-development.
The Honourable Minister for Youth, Sports, Culture and Constituency Empowerment, Justina Charles, commended those who contributed to the successful initiation of the Academy. The Hon. Minister made special mention of the work of the Sports Division.
”I am certain that most of these guys are a product of the sports programme organized by the Sports Division because they were identified from school,” Hon. Charles noted.
Honourable Parliamentary Representative for the Portsmouth Constituency, Ian Douglas referred to the sport of cricket as a symbol of West Indian identity.
“We took something that the world gave us and we became masters at it; that was cricket,” Hon. Douglas explained passionately. “That was in the days and the era of the greats – Clive Lloyd, Sir Weekes, Walcott, Vivian Richards – all of the guys that I hope you will be able to learn about in the history of West Indies cricket. Learning about the history of West Indies cricket will allow you to understand your role and your identity in the representation of our people, both here in Dominica and regionally in the West Indies, and hopefully, when you become international stars.”
Although the Academy was only launched last weekend, it has been in operation for the past eight weeks, housing seventeen young aspiring cricketers on weekends.
Director of the Academy, Liam Sebastian, gave an overview of the Academy’s activities since its inception.
According to Sebastien, “since the Academy started, the players have been put through different aspects of fitness, technical and personal development training.”
The Academy’s Director reiterated that the institution is not only geared at producing better cricketers but better-rounded individuals as well.
“We had lectures in the form of Mrs. Marynese Titre on nutrition and personal hygiene; Mr. Felix Wilson on doping in sports, Mr. Billy Doctrove on laws of the game and we also had Mr. Vasbert Drakes, the Head Coach of the Sagicor High Performance Centre, spending a weekend with the boys,” Sebastien informed.
According to Sebastien, Friday and Saturday nights are dedicated to catching up on school work.
The Director noted visible improvements over the past few weeks.
The young men, ages fourteen to eighteen, were presented with cricket kits comprising an Academy shirt, long and short training pants, abdominal guards and other cricket gear.
A combination of confidence, humility and gratitude emanated from one student in particular, as he testified about his eight week experience.
“From the first night I knew that the Academy was going to be serious, so I had to stay focused,” fourteen-year-old Tahj Tavernier recalled.
“This Academy doesn’t only pay attention to cricket but also gives assistance in your academics and helps you to mature into a man. On the first Friday night we watched a movie, “Fire in Babylon.” It is a film that depicts West Indians’ passion for cricket. It also showed the fight in the West Indian cricketers. On the first Saturday we had some batting and bowling and the next day, we had a fitness test. Some of us had not trained for months, so the test was a bit tough.”
Tavernier admitted that the training at the Academy is very intense. However, the young man said he had an enjoyable eight weeks thus far.
“I really enjoyed myself. I believe I got fitter and my goal is to work even harder in January,” he said.
The Academy was largely sponsored by the Government of Dominica.