There was hive of activity at Parika Seleem on the East Bank of Essequibo yesterday when the Alvin Johnson Practice facility on the Parika Community Play Ground (PCPG) was handed over to the Parika Seleem Club by the Guyana Cricket Board (GCB) as part of its cricket development projects.
The All-Weather Practice facility which is located just beyond the North Eastern boundary was built by Contractor Zabeer Zakier, who is also President of the E’bo Umpires Association. The GCB Project cost $2.5 Million.
The GCB and CGI will build similar facilities in West Berbice and Linden but the main focus is on completing their International standard Stadium and Dorms at LBI.
Present at yesterday’s handing over to President of the East Bank Essequibo Cricket Association (EBECA) Alvin Johnson, GCB Territorial Development Officer Colin Stuart, GCB Secretary and CWI Director Anand Sanansie, Essequibo Cricket Board (ECB) President and GCB Vice-President Faizul Bacchus, Minister of Social Cohesion with responsibility for Sports Dr George Norton, ECB Secretary/Administrator Aotto Christiani, Contractor Zabeer Zakier, Tamika Johnson (Teacher of Parika Saleem School) and Assistant Secretary ECB Nazeer Mohamed.
The (PCPG), which is presently in an unplayable condition, has three pitches and is controlled by the Moura/Parika NDC, which was represented by Overseer Aleassa Peters.
This venue was founded in the early 1970s and houses a Main Pavilion which has players’ dressing rooms, spectators’ stand, and a storeroom. There is also a study area complete with internet service.
The Parika Seleem Club was founded on March 1, 1982 with Johnson serving as its President from 1985 to 2014. The club is mandated to maintain the venue.
Sanansie told the gathering, which included several students from the Parika Seleem Secondary (which is next door to the ground) that the GCB was pleased to contribute to youth development in Essequibo and asked that the Community to make use of the facility and maintain it.
“The GCB would like to do some work on the ground to upgrade it so as to play some Franchise matches involving the Essequibo Franchise at this venue,” said Sanansie.
Sanasie said when he became GCB Secretary he met Johnson and said that they had a good relationship. Johnson was GCB Vice-President from 2002 to 2009 and was the alternate Guyanese Director on the West Indies Board (2005-2008) and attended three board meetings.
The 63-year-old Johnson, a retired Headmaster, thanked the GCB for naming the Practice facility after him for his commitment to Essequibo and especially East Bank Essequibo’s cricket and stressed that the facility did not belong to him although it has his name on it.
“This is for the community and the Parika Seleem Committee with the blessings of the GCB and we are thankful for it since this will help Essequibo’s Cricket especially East Bank and Group B teams…Wakenaam, Leguan, Bartica and East Bank,” said Johnson who severed as ECB President from 2002 to 2009.
Johnson is the President of the Éast Bank Essequibo Cricket Committee which runs cricket from Zeelugt to Hubu and has been its President since 2002.
“We have here today Coach Ryan Hercules who has ensured that the Essequibo senior team won both the three day and one day Franchise titles. It is known that Essequibo is the largest but least successful County in Cricket and the names of pacers Hercules and Ucil Armstrong, will be placed on the two sightscreens since they are both from East Bank and played youth cricket for Guyana,” said Johnson, who was National U-19 Manager from 2003 to 2010 and again in 2012.
“We seek permission to upgrade this facility for indoor practice. We would like to build a roof and install lights so that the players can still practice when it rains and after work or school in the evenings,” said Johnson, Guyana’s Senior Team Manager in 2013 and 2014.
Minister Norton said he was pleased to attend yesterday’s ceremony and was happy to see the students and requested that a gate be built between the school and the ground to allow easy access to the ground.
“I heard the passion for cricket in Mr Johnson’s Voice which suggests that he is very committed to seeing cricketers develop in this area,” Said Minister Norton who took some time out from this busy schedule to speak to those present yesterday.
He promised to help get the ground fixed as part of the Government’s Community development projects and challenged the GBC to construct such facilities in areas like Bartica and the Hinterland.
“As Minister of Social Cohesion I was pleased when members of a visiting delegation who attended the CPL matches in Guyana remarked about the unity and social cohesion displayed by the fans at those matches,” Said Dr Norton, whose son represented Guyana in cricket. (Sean Devers)
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