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The government of Saint Lucia has made a landmark overture to the Saint Lucia National Cricket Association (SLNCA). This after a recent meeting between Minister for Youth Development and Sports Edmund Estephane and Julian Charles, president of the SLNCA.
At that meeting, Estephane reportedly promised that the local governing body for cricket would be granted an office at the island’s leading facility, the Daren Sammy Cricket Ground (DSCG) in Beausejour, Gros Islet.
Estephane, a former national athlete himself, also promised that the SLNCA would be allowed use of the venue for domestic matches, including the preliminary rounds of national-level competitions such as the Francis ‘Mindoo’ Phillip Two-Day Men’s Tournament.
Since the DCSG was inaugurated in 2002, it has been used mainly for international and regional cricket. The stadium has hosted West Indies international matches, the Caribbean Premier League, and Windward Islands competition, but local cricketers have had very little use of it.
Use of the DSCG has been a big problem for the SLNCA. As recently as 2017, Bryan Calixte, operations manager of the Association, complained publicly due to “astronomical fees” being charged by Sports Saint Lucia Inc (SSI), which is in charge of facilities including DSCG.
On that occasion, the SLNCA was forced to change the venue for their Division One two-day cricket final from DSCG to Mindoo Phillip Park, itself often waterlogged and overgrown with grass. SSI supposedly gave the Association the choice of paying $8,225 or $10,325 to use DSCG.
Previously, Estephane’s predecessor as sports minister, Shawn Edward, had promised the use of DSCG to local cricket. But now, with the SLNCA supporting the government of Saint Lucia’s establishment of a Sports Academy in Gros Islet, the time may be ripe for greater collaboration.
Promises, though, are easy to make. The proof of the pudding will be in the eating. If indeed Estephane proves to be as good as his word, this move may be a massive boost for cricket development on Saint Lucia, as regular players will finally be able to compete in elite conditions.