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By Floyd French

Observer Reporter

(Basseterre, St. Kitts) – The annual cricket competition among local high schools and colleges was launched last Friday, Mar. 28, at Warner Park.  The competition is sponsored by Carib Brewery, under its Giant Malt brand.

Cricket commentator and Master of Ceremony for the tournament’s official opening, Mr. John Samuel named Runako Morton, Tonito Willet and Keiran Powell of Nevis along with Shane Jeffers, Gareth Matthew, Esroy Powell, Junie Mitcham and Steve Liburd of St. Kitts as notable young stars of the Giant Malt Cricket Competition who went on to play at the regional level.  All of them played cricket for the Leeward U19 team, and Runako Morton has been selected to join the West Indies Cricket Team for a second time.

Mr. Steve Laplace of Carib Brewery and former St. Kitts cricketer urged the young players to show discipline and sportsmanship throughout the tournament and beyond.  He admonished them that “badness is never in style especially for cricket.”

He also said that the local business community are keenly interested in employing cricketers based on what players demonstrate on and off the pitch.

Mr. Laplace, however, recognised the need for the development of professional sports.  He told the young cricketers that he was paid two dollars per day during his cricket career (1973-1986) but today non-professional cricketers can earn as much as EC$400 per day.  He told them that cricket should be “one of the avenues where your first job comes from.”

In declaring the tournament opened, former West Indies Cricket Team Manager and Minister of Sports, Hon. Richard Skerritt highlighted the role of grass root cricket, not only for local cricket development but also for regional and international development.  He said that grass root cricket was neglected and not well integrated into the larger picture of regional and international cricket.

Minister Skerritt also highlighted the partnership between Government and businesses in assisting grass root cricket.  He mentioned the world class cricket facility at Warner Park and sponsorship from Giant Malt as proof of support for local cricket and beyond.

The week-long cricket tournament began after the opening ceremony and will conclude today with the final match at Warner Park.

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