Caribbean sports stars will turn out for a celebrity 20-over cricket match in Barbados this weekend in support of Dominica which is still grappling with the devastation left by Tropical Storm Erika a month ago.
Tropical Storm Erika’s heavy rains caused massive flooding and landslides, taking more than 30 lives and destroying buildings, roads and bridges on the island, which has a population of around 72,000. Total damage has been estimated at more than $220 million.
The University of the West Indies, in partnership with the West Indies Cricket Board, has organized the T20 match at Kensington Oval in Bridgetown on Saturday.
Hopes are that it will attract a sell-out crowd in a match between a WICB President’s Celebrity XI and a UWI Vice Chancellor’s Celebrity XI. Each team will field six West Indies cricketers and five Caribbean celebrities. All the names were not confirmed at press time.
Former West Indies and Trinidad and Tobago cricketer Brian Lara, Tobago-born former Manchester United striker Dwight Yorke and Jamaican Olympian sprinter Yohan Blake have confirmed their availability for the benefit match. Lara visited Dominica last week to help raise awareness, funds and to lift spirits.
For the West Indies team players, it will be the final home game before departing for their tour of Sri Lanka.
UWI Vice Chancellor Sir Hilary Beckles said the university is pleased to collaborate with the WICB to support the Dominica relief fund.
“The UWI is committed to doing everything we can to help in the resuscitation of Dominica and its people,” he said. Noting that cricket is a sport that has historically united Caribbean people, Sir Hilary added, “It is fitting that our celebrated cricketers and athletes should join with academia in providing financial and moral support for our brothers and sisters in the region.”
A UWI taskforce of experts in disaster management, including engineers and doctors coordinated by Disaster Risk Management Specialist Dr. Jeremy Collymore is in Dominica to assist with the rebuilding process.
West Indies Cricket Board President Dave Cameron has urged support for the match.
He said, “We are grateful for the support of the UWI and the celebrities that have graciously agreed to take part.
“Using the power and contribution of cricket, so that the recovery efforts under way in Dominica can continue and life can steadily be restored to normal in the island is very crucial.
“We hope West Indies fans will get behind the effort and help raise money for the Dominica Emergency Relief Fund to help the people and families who have lost their homes and, in some instances, their livelihoods.”
Recovery efforts are well under way, with several Caribbean countries pledging funds to help with rebuilding. The Cayman Islands government donated $500,000 last week. Cameron added that it is important that the WICB contributes to helping Dominica.
“Like most people in the Caribbean, we’ve all seen the devastating effect of these weather systems on Dominica, and we got together and tried to determine what we could do to assist,” he said.
“West Indies cricket has brought the people of the Caribbean together like nothing else, so the WICB and our players are committed to doing our part.”