Apr 21, 2021 Sports
By Sean Devers
Kaieteur News – Former Malteenoes, Demerara and National batsman Neil Barry heads the new Georgetown Cricket Association (GCA) Executive which will serve for a two-year term after being elected on January 28.
The 54-year-old Barry served as Vice President to former West Indies all-rounder and present chairman of the West Indies Selectors Roger Harper and can seek re-election for five two-year terms.
The GSA President aims to attract more females to cricket and wants to revive the game in non-traditional areas.
“Getting more teams, especially at the lower levels is a challenge in an area like Georgetown, since there are so many activities that compete for the attention of the young people. Access to opportunity as well.
In Georgetown there are several clubs, however, a lot of the players do not reside in close proximity to those clubs which I think is contributing to the lack of attendance which is a reason the clubs are struggling to produce teams.
So one of the things we are trying to do is engage the school system to get the human resources which are in the schools to take the game to them. Therefore, to achieve that objective, the GCA will have to work with the clubs to promote youth programmes that can attract youths especially to those clubs that are in close proximity to schools,” said Barry who attended Queen’s College and represented Guyana at U-19 level in 1985 when Carl Hooper single-handedly helped Guyana to win the title at home and also played in 1986 in Trinidad.
“I think there are a lot of unserved areas…low income areas in the City which has not been served well in Cricket over the years, so it’s our intentions to take the game into those areas,” said Barry, a guest on last Wednesday night’s Sean Devers Sports Watch on Kaieteur Radio.
Barry takes the helm at a difficult time for Georgetown’s cricket after the covid-19 pandemic has halted the game in the City after a brief resumption after no cricket was played in Georgetown since last March, while many of the First Division cricket grounds are unavailable due to non-cricketing activities and softball tournaments which provide much needed funds for clubs.
“Georgetown starts in the South of Agricola and we have launched a cricket programme there in conjunction with the NGO in the Village and we intend to take that all the way to North Eastern part of Georgetown which is Cummings Lodge and areas like Sophia and South Ruimveldt, North, West and East Ruimveldt because there are many youths who would love to play the game but are not getting the opportunity since they are no clubs there to really monitor them,” said Barry who got into Sports Administration as a 19-year-old.
Talking about facilities for cricket in south Georgetown, Barry, who once lived in Laing Avenue, said he had some talks with the East Ruimveldt based Ace Warriors officials, but the ground at the East Ruimveldt Community Centre no longer has a pitch, while Football, the most popular sport in South of City, is the dominant sport played there.
“Well we are in preparatory stages and analysing what we can do best to strengthen those lesser clubs, especially those in South Georgetown as part of our plans to decentralise the Sport.
But the challenge with that ground and most others in that area are that they are multi-sports facilities and Football is played a lot on that East Ruimveldt Community Centre ground so that might not be the best ground to build a pitch.
But there are other grounds that can be used for Cricket in the Ruimveldt area like the North Ruimveldt Multilateral School ground and a ground just behind the South Ruimveldt Park area where Football is not played on,” said Barry, who played seven First-Class matches for Guyana between 1992 and 1996, making 244 runs with a highest score of 71 at an Average of 22.18.
“We are also looking at an all-weather pitch with a batting cage at one corner of the ground where practice and coaching sessions can be held and once Football is not being played we could use the ground so we can attract kids to cricket in those areas. It’s a lot different in areas where there is cricket dominated environment,” informed Barry.
Barry, who scored 87 runs in 12 Regional 50-overs games for Guyana, informed that the immediate plans for 2021 are to expand the game into schools and low income areas and engaging all the stakeholders in an effort to attract young females to the sport in addition to promoting inclusivity among all clubs and ensuring the prioritization of hardball cricket tournaments at their grounds.
The former Malteenoes Captain, who scored the most first division centuries for Malteenoes, said that to attract youths to cricket or any other sports depends on how attractive is the sport and the environment that it is played in.
On his thoughts on the return of the senior inter-county tournament, which was halted in 2015 to host the Franchise league the next year, Barry said he felt it was a good idea.
“Of course I support the return of inter-county! An inter-county tournament aids in preparation of the first-class players, and promotes ownership and representation; meaning players representing their county will understand what it is to represent their county fans. It’s important we get back to promoting that representation at the local level,” noted the former Malteenoes Captain who made his First -Class Debut for Demerara against Berbice in 1987.
Barry, who played two First-Class matches at the Inter-County level, with the last one being in 1989, admitted that sponsorship is always difficult and depends on economic environment that obtains at the time of request.
“However, the GCA has been able to work with our partners in the various economic sectors to maintain their sponsorship of our two major two-day competitions,” added Barry, the father of West Indies’ physiotherapist and fitness trainer Neil Barry junior.
“We do envisage the continuance of our development programmes across all cricket processes and also a focus will be made on establishing a data base to capture all scores and records that will enhance the selection process. We have also planned a computer scoring workshop for Scores in GCA tournaments,” concluded Barry.
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