St. John’s Antigua- Minister of State within the Ministry of Sports, Senator Winston Williams, has defended the hosting of a two-day Sports Ministers Meeting held here in Antigua on the way forward for cricket within the sub-region.
The minister’s staunch defence of the initiative held at Royal Antiguan Resort on Sunday and Monday comes amidst some public concerns that the event served as nothing more than a two-day talk shop and that no real plan of action has been outlined.
According to Williams however, the ministers, technicians, directors and other stakeholders who took part in the sessions are determined to put the necessary requirements in place that will ensure that measures and/or solutions discussed will come to fruition. The minister rationalised the need for a second meeting.
“An additional phase of the meeting (in October) is to deal with OECS sports in general, not just cricket alone this time. You have the OECS games, the OECS Sports Desk issues; you have sports ministers not being able to meet; so there are quite a number of issues and the fact is what we have been able to accomplish is commendable and I have to say that to all the participants, ‘Everything that came out on the to-do list, if you want to call it that, will be doable in six months, in October,’” he said.
“When we look at the strategic plan for WICBC which is the Windward Islands Board, and LICA, in collaboration with WICB and the policymakers, that cannot be done in 90 days. If we are going to do this thing right, we are going to have to do it right. We cannot on one hand be saying we don’t want it to be a talk shop and then rush and then it all falls apart,” Williams said.
The junior minister said that the next phase would entail those government representatives present at the meeting reporting back to their various governments and having additional discussions before final commitments could be made.
“Government ministers of sports will have to go and talk to their ministers of finance because there are financial issues. I, as the minister of sports in Antigua, cannot under (any) circumstances say that Antigua is going to, in six months, two months or whatever, commit two million dollars to this. I have to seek the guidance of my Cabinet,” he said.
The meeting, which was the brainchild of the president of the Leeward Islands Cricket Board (LICB), Gregory Shillingford, sought to bring all the major stakeholders in cricket together in an effort to resolve issues pertaining to the hosting, planning and executing of tournaments and programmes throughout the sub-region.
According to Williams, the meeting served its initial purpose which was to bring unified awareness to what it will take to bring cricket in the region back to a desired level.
“We met at the Royal Antiguan to do one thing and that was to bring awareness to the issues of LICA and the WICBC. The fact is that both of those bodies had never met in history. They have never thought to sit down to compare notes to look at some of the challenges, and whilst they were doing that, we brought in the other individuals who have some degree of weight, for instance LIAT, WICB,” he said.
“The outcome of the meeting was not to have a meeting again in October, but we see the wisdom in meeting in six months so that the boards can go back and have their own (deliberations),”the minister added.
Also taking part in the two-day meetings were representatives from the Windward Islands Board, technicians and directors from across the region.
Shillingford, in previous interviews, had insisted that a lack of funding has played a major role in the Board’s capacity to host tournaments and to effectively fund teams taking part in competitions.