Cricket’s rapid development in the Cayman Islands is going to increase faster than a Courtney Walsh bouncer soon.
That’s because the amount allocated by the International Cricket Council could top US$500,000.
It all depends on Cayman’s criteria but will definitely be considerable more than the minimum $90,000 every country presently gets.
Although exact figures are yet to be confirmed, all this came out over the weekend at a cricket forum held over three days.
Martin Vieira is the regional development manager for the ICC for the Americas.
Once a year they hold a development forum in a different country. Last year it was Mexico, in 2006 it was Cuba. Next year it’s Brazil’s turn.
It was Cayman’s turn this year and 22 delegates spent last weekend at the Marriott Hotel and various locations around the island.
Seventeen countries were represented that come under the ICC development wing.
These countries are not associated with the West Indies Cricket Board because they are amateur developing nations of the region. They include the five Associates: Cayman Islands, Argentina, USA, Bermuda and Canada, plus 12 affiliates.
‘There is some very positive news, beginning in 2009 there’s a tremendous change in the ICC funding to developing countries,’ said Vieira.
‘The funding in some cases will be triple and in others even more than that. The countries will be very excited at hearing that news.
‘Now they can proceed with the things we’ve been pressing them to get like paid staff, full-time coaches and better facilities.
‘This is real good news. We were enlightened by my development programmes manager, Tim Anderson, who came all the way from Dubai. Generally, it’s very good news from the ICC regarding funding.’
When asked by Cayman’s funding, Vieira made a point of praising the reception all the delegates have received. He was watching Prison against Heineken Greenies at the Jimmy Powell Oval in West Bay at the time.
‘The thing that came out of this weekend is the tremendous hospitality. Every country that was here has been given a taste of Cayman’s hospitality.
‘We had the Sports Minister Alden McLaughlin opening the forum on Saturday, cricket association president Courtney Myles has been very evident all weekend.
‘Merta Day has been just fantastic and, of course, Theo Cuffy and executives from the CICA have appeared once in a while. The people have been really surprised by the beautiful island of Grand Cayman and the wonderful hospitality.
‘And that’s not just me saying it, they actually expressed that at the forum.’
Guyanese Vieira grew up in the Sixties admiring West Indies legends like Butcher, Solomon, Hunte, Sobers, Worrell, Weekes, Kanhai and Walcott.
His family moved from Guyana as a child to Canada and he never believed he would play the game again.
He started playing some North American sports and around six years after leaving, he was re-introduced to cricket at high school in Toronto.
‘I got hooked on it again and played for 25 years, 15 of them I spent as coach and manager of the national Under-19 team.’
An accountant by profession, Vieira’s been doing this job for five years. ‘My wife reminds me that I used to do this for free and now I’m getting paid!’
Cuffy, the island’s technical director, said: ‘This has been a fabulous weekend. We’ve waited five years to host the forum.
‘Cayman Islands is definitely more expensive than some other countries in our region. To bring the forum here must have meant that the regional manager had to shift around his budget a bit.
‘We’re happy he chose Cayman and were pleased that Minister McLaughlin was able to open the forum.
‘It was co-ordinated by Merta Day and she’s done an excellent job. The statement is now, can anybody live up to what we have done?
‘Tim Anderson has revealed that there is now a lot more money coming not only to the Associates but also the Affiliates. That means we can have more plans and do more things in cricket.
‘We’re very proud of our organising ability and Merta’s approach. We wouldn’t want for anybody better. We’ve also had some fabulous volunteers, including Debbie Ebanks, Melissa, Sheila Rankine and the executive members turned out at some point. We’re also grateful to the
‘Ministry of Tourism for all the gifts they supplied to the delegates. Some of them are even planning to come back next year, but it’s definitely too expensive so we’ll have to just wait our turn again.’
Cuffy is excited by the level of funding. ‘There are certain parameters you have to fulfil and certain guidelines.
‘Currently, we rank No.14 of the Associates out of 33. I feel that is an achievement because it’s only six years now that we’re an Associate country, so we have done reasonably well.
‘The next tournament we are going to be playing in is in Argentina next year in the World Cricket League Division Three. I have great hope that we’ll do well. If we don’t win at least maintain our ranking position which means that we’ll fall within a certain grade and when the funding scenario unfolds it means a certain amount of money for the annual grant and also development funding.
‘So I’m enthused and ecstatic as to what’s been happening and where we have positioned ourselves and what we can do going down the line.’