News of a Caymanian playing for the West Indies has sprung great joy.
A slew of people on island are proud that Joshua Clarke, 20, is playing for the WI rugby sevens team headed to Hong Kong.
Clarke, alongside fellow Cayman player Michael Wilson, was initially named to the team as a non-travelling reserve.
However a player on the side became unavailable and Clarke was quickly chosen to fill that spot.
The team plays the world’s best rugby nations, including the likes of Argentina and Australia, in the International Rugby Board Sevens World Series starting this Friday.
Among the more elated bunch is Joshua’s father Steven Clarke.
The middle school administrator felt his son has given the family a feeling of great pride.
‘As a family we are extremely proud of Josh’s achievements in being selected to play in a world-class rugby tournament representing Cayman and the WI region.’
In addition to his duties in the classroom the elder Clarke also serves as assistant coach to the Cayman national Under-20 team.
Steve is in a rare position to have seen Josh progress in his abilities as dad played on the U20 team years ago.
Steve is quick to point out Josh’s work ethic put him in a position to excel.
‘It takes a lot of hard work and dedication to be in the position to be considered to be part of the WI team and it is pleasing to see that Josh’s commitment has paid off.’
Joshua is one of two children that play rugby. His younger brother Joel, 18, plays locally and is an emerging talent on the national scene.
In fact Joel is travelling with the Cayman national U20 team that is heading to Kenya next month.
There Cayman will compete for the 2009 International Rugby Board Junior World Rugby Trophy.
The side takes on some eight countries, including Chile, Romania and the US, in the 15-a-side version of the game.
Another person pleased with Joshua’s spot on the WI team is technical director for Cayman rugby Richard ‘Grizz’ Adams.
Adams expressed his sentiments to the news.
‘I’m delighted of course. It’s good for Josh and it’s a good target for the kids here. He’s been working hard leading up to this, keeping himself match-fit. I think he has what it takes to be on the squad and he deserves it.’
For Adams, Joshua represents the blueprint for Cayman rugby.
‘He’s young, up-and-coming and all of the WI knows who he is. He’s had local and national experience for a number of years. He has steadily shown improvement and could be one of the best in the WI.
‘A number of boys can follow him here. He’s easily the future for Cayman and WI rugby.’
With such a milestone to his name it would be easy for the young man to be boastful. But Clarke is refreshingly humble and preferred to talk about his team’s chances.
‘I expect the competition to be the best I have ever played at and the pace of the game to be quick.
‘It’s exciting stuff. I think a lot of teams will be out to upset other squads and prove that they are the best because the Rugby Sevens World Cup is just a few weeks ago and people want to prove that it should have been them that won.
‘We have a really good pool in that we are playing the US, Kenya and Scotland. The US and Kenya have been playing really well lately and have been upsetting the big teams. I think that the WI have a good chance of going quite far in this tournament and even putting in one or two big upsets.
‘We have a lot of pace on the team and some good size so we will be able to compete. It will come down to how badly we all want it. That’s going to be the main factor which will decide how well we do. It’s there for the taking.’
Obviously father Steve and mother Beverley Clarke had much to do with Joshua’s progression into adulthood.
But as Steve points out members of the local community had a vital role too.
‘There are many people behind the scenes that have contributed in supporting Josh; particularly Richard Adams.
‘In the past, sponsors Maples and Calder have supported Josh in a number of his rugby experiences and we appreciate that this support has enabled him to gain the necessary experience and skills to compete at this high level.
‘We feel confident that Josh will learn from this incredible experience, not only from a rugby perspective but also in his personal development.’