It is well known that the West Indies will play two of its 20/20 matches against New Zealand during the latter’s upcoming tour of the Caribbean in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. There has been mixed reaction to the decision to play these two matches in America.
We in the Diaspora, especially Florida, welcome the matches for several reasons, foremost because it demonstrates that Caribbean American communities have been expanding their influence in American society and that our diverse culture as well as our contributions to education, business, medicine and to the economies of the communities in which we live are finally being tangibly recognized.
The struggle to have a cricket stadium built in Florida was a long and hard one but testimony to the hard work of many the likes of county Commissioner Dale Holeness and cricket administrator/community activist Jeff Miller. Our Caribbean governments which depend so much on remittances from the Diaspora to help ensure that their economies are stable and many of which at the political party level raise the bulk of their elections campaign financing from supporters in the Diaspora, should fully support the decision to play these two matches in Florida.
I am no supporter of the West Indies Cricket Board. I think they are a bungling group of incompetents for the most part. However, I commend the Board for its decision to allocate the two matches to Florida especially against the backdrop of dwindling crowds at so many of the venues in the Caribbean.
I understand the argument of President Donald Ramotar about the investment made by Caribbean governments in building new stadia and the need to have matches played in the Caribbean. Our Caribbean governments need to engage the WICB on a range of issues which affects West Indies cricket-the region’s most unifying influence and foremost source of Caribbean pride.
These discussions should include a formula for the equitable allocation of matches for upcoming tours. But such a formula must include a match or two in Florida and our regional governments must give this their support.
Now for the real issue at hand. Caribbean governments, through their consular and other diplomatic representatives in the US were asked to sponsor a welcome reception for the West Indies team which would be attended by the NZ team, cricket officials, business and community leaders, media, elected official and others.
The estimated cost of the reception is $20,000. I understand that consideration was given to the request and that just this past week the governments indicated that they did not have the funds to sponsor this reception. I can’t believe it. Most of our countries have budgets for the promotion of tourism and what a great opportunity this is to promote the countries of the region.
Is $2,000 per country asking too much of our regional governments to host this reception? Or is it that our governments feel that they should not be spending a penny on helping to have international cricket played in America? These are the same governments that wax poetic about the importance of the Diaspora and their commitment to our efforts to integrate into American society and help shape favorable US policy on the Caribbean.
Our regional governments have a great opportunity to demonstrate that their expressed commitment to us in the Diaspora is not just lip service and that they mean what they say and say what they mean by sponsoring the welcome reception for the WI team. We in the Diaspora continue to give much to our countries without asking for anything in return. For once we are asking for your support and we expect it unconditionally.
Perhaps our governments should take their cue from the people of the region some 5,000 of whom will travel to Florida for the two matches….2000 from Trinidad and Tobago alone. These people most likely would have preferred to have matches in their countries but nonetheless will support the West Indies where ever they play.
Come on CARICOM governments. Will you not share our burden of promoting our culture/pride in the US to the tune of $20,000? .
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