Inaugural Digicel/ISSA T20 Championship bowls off today

Jamaica Observer article.

Kingston, Jamaica - Cricket at the schoolboy level is about to get a major boost with the launch of the Digicel/ISSA All-Island T20 Championship.

The exciting development was announced on Monday on the grounds of Sabina Park. A leading supporter of sport in Jamaica, Digicel underscored its commitment to expand the positive impact of cricket on youth development in Jamaica by partnering with the Inter-secondary Schools Sports Association (ISSA) to stage the championship, which is the first of its kind at the schoolboy level.

The telecommunications company is investing $5 million in this programme, plus providing prizes for the most valuable player of the tournament and the finals as well as for the player with the most runs, the top bowler and top fielder.

Speaking to the partnership, Tahnida Nunes, Digicel's senior sponsorship manager said that, "Digicel has long recognised that sports play an important role in the development of Jamaica's youth and the country at large. This championship is a special addition to our extensive portfolio of sporting initiatives geared at unearthing and developing young talents across the island. Cricket has always been special to us as a people and fostering its development at the schoolboy level will augur well for the sport and ultimately the development of talent for West Indies Cricket."

With preliminary matches already being played, the next phase of the championship -- the Super Eight -- will see the eight schools selected by coach educators in the rural and urban preliminary games, face-off to arrive at the two teams to enter the final. Competing schools include St Elizabeth Technical High, St Jago High, Wolmer's Boys, Vere Technical, Manchester High, Excelsior High, Eltham High, and Cross Keys High.

Speaking at the launch, Dr Walton Small, president of ISSA, commented on the partnership with Digicel, saying that, "We found that we didn't have a structured T20 cricket tournament in school and this is a great way in preparing the young cricketers for a professional future in T20 cricket, and so, many thanks to Digicel for supporting this to the fullest."

In the meantime, Jamaica Cricket Association President William 'Billy' Heaven is happy about the prospects of the tournament. "The partnership between Digicel and ISSA to host a T20 cricket tournament is a good way going forward in building cricket on a whole. T20 cricket involves more of the younger generation getting attached to the shorter version of the game, and this will encourage participation.

"There is a lot of fun in the shorter version of the game and the excitement will attract more people to support it."

Like Heaven, Digicel also has high hopes for the competition and wishes to see the same energy, passion and enthusiasm in the Caribbean Premier League injected into the schoolboy championship.

"Our vision is to mirror the success of CPL by developing schoolboy T20 into an even bigger competition where you will see the highest level of talent, as well as the highest level of spectatorship from students."

The competition bowls off today with St Elizabeth Technical High School versus St Jago High School, Wolmer's Boys against Vere Technical High School, Manchester High facing Excelsior High, and Eltham High versus Cross Keys High.

First Published In The Jamaica Observer.

Sat, 05/03/2014 - 04:54