The Government of Barbados is sponsoring the attendance of approximately 1 500 students for two upcoming cricket One-Day Internationals (ODIs) against India on Thursday and Saturday at Kensington Oval.
Prime Minister Mia Mottley made the announcement during her feature address at the 22nd Annual Frank Worrell Memorial Lecture on Tuesday night at the University of the West Indies (UWI), Cave Hill Campus.
Fed up with the status of cricket in the region and extremely disappointed with the slow ticket sales, Mottley and Minister of Sport, Charles Griffith, have taken action by negotiating with Cricket West Indies (CWI) to cover the ticket cost of school-aged children at US $5 per head, with an aim of 1 500 students.
“I was horrified when I watched the audiences or lack thereof this last week in (Trinidad). This morning when my Minister of Sport told me Cricket West Indies had only sold 600 tickets for the game, I felt like crying, and I said then even as bad as it may seem, go and buy tickets for the school children of this country and let them go in and they will see good cricket or bad cricket, but they will see cricket,” said a visibly perturbed Prime Minister.
“Two days can’t break us. Get the coaches to carry the ones under 11 and 12, and let the other teams who want to go come and register. The people who want tickets for Thursday can register at [National] Sports Council (NSC) tomorrow (today) and the people who want tickets for Saturday can register tomorrow (today) or Thursday for Saturday. We are going to rally ’round the West Indies’. We are going to defend that, and we’re going to instill it in our people because that is who we are,” said Mottley to a resounding applause from the audience which filled the Roy Marshall Lecture Theatre.
After proceedings concluded, Griffith tidied up further details of the arrangement.
“The Sports Council has been mobilised to get in contact with all of the schools that we are currently in, coaching. In addition to that, all of the established clubs that have a junior programme, they are invited to send their persons as well,” he explained.
“We are also looking at our summer camps to see where we have cricket, those would be involved in the process. We are trying to target in excess of 1 500 people for this; we are hoping that it is more, but that is the target that we initially are looking at. That is being covered by Government,” said Griffith, noting the offer was for both matches.
This offer is also open to girls who are involved in cricket and the Minister said they are also exploring whether transportation will be required to take the young spectators.
Griffith did not pinpoint an exact time at which persons can venture to the NSC, but is “hoping that maybe a little later in the day we can have that process sorted out”. (RW)