Development Officer praises Grassroots
St John’s, Antigua – Cricket Development Officer in Antigua, Pernel Watley says the West Indies Cricket Board Digicel Grassroots Programme is making a significant impact on the development of cricket in his jurisdiction.
Watley, a former national player, is responsible for the coordination of the Grassroots programme in Antigua which targets Under 17 and Under 15 players across the island.
Watley who is also the Leeward Islands Under 19 and Under 17 Assistant Coach and the Antigua and Barbuda national Under 19 Coach says that he can see the positive impact the programme is having on the youth players.
“You can see the big difference in the performance of the young players when they play in the school league and that is a direct result of them being able to practise all year round in the Digicel Grassroots Cricket Programme,” Watley said.
“I also see the rekindling of the love for the game and the strong interest the players are showing in cricket, they love the game once more which is really encouraging to see and that will bode well for the future of the game in Antigua and the West Indies,” said Watley who is also a coach with the Antigua and Barbuda Ministry of Sport.
He oversees a team of nine coaches who execute the Grassroots Programme on Saturdays in five clusters. Each cluster consists of in excess of 25 players who have been training on a weekly basis for over a year.
“All the coaches are accredited and this programme is really making a difference with the young players as it gives them an opportunity to learn and refine basic skills and also the coaches have an opportunity to practice what they love to do,” Watley added.
Watley was also high in praise for the new culture of the WICB.
“The WICB is operating differently now, previously we never really used to see anyone from the Board but now the officers are constantly with us, they come out and meet us, listen to our ideas, take feedback, interact with us and it makes for a good working relationship,” Watley said.
“Even while we are administering the programme the officers (WICB Project Officer for Grassroots Fawwaz Baksh and Kiddy Cricket Project Officer KJ Singh) come out to watch the players and it is so easy to work with them. It is really a different atmosphere altogether,” Watley noted.
Watley, a WICB Level 2 certified coach, played professionally in New Zealand, South Africa in England during the 1990s.
All coaches in the Digicel Grassroots Programme receive a weekly stipend from the WICB for their services to the young cricketers.