The UWI partners with Sagicor to launch Cricket High Performance Centre

Regional Headquarters, Jamaica. Tuesday, November 07, 2017 — In a renewed venture, The University of the West Indies (The UWI) and the Sagicor Financial Corporation have launched the Sagicor-UWI Cricket High Performance Centre under The UWI’s Faculty of Sport. The announcement was made at a press briefing held on Tuesday, October 24, 2017 at the University’s Cave Hill Campus in Barbados.

The former facility—The Sagicor UWI WICB High Performance Centre—was established in 2010, around the vision and educational approaches of Professor Sir Hilary Beckles, who was brought onto the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) first by then President Ken Gordon and maintained by President Julian Hunte. Professor Beckles’ agenda was to establish a skills-training and consciousness-raising academy to move young players beyond the divisive and subversive culture that was weakening West Indies cricket. A new and informed player awareness and a modern mentality was necessary adding the values of citizenship to technical competence. The WICB-UWI partnership however ended under the Cameron administration, when the WICB, now Cricket West Indies (CWI) opted to pursue a different strategy.

Speaking at the launch event, Vice-Chancellor, Professor Sir Hilary Beckles presented the story of the development of the High Performance Centre; contextualizing that when The UWI teamed up with the WICB and Sagicor Financial Corporation six years ago to establish a cricket academy at the Cave Hill Campus, it was a transformational moment in the development of West Indies cricket.

He reflected that at that time, The UWI already had in place since 1994, the Centre for Cricket Research and was offering a Master’s Degree in Global Cricket Studies. Its students were already playing successfully in regional cricket in the form of the Combined Campuses and Colleges (CCC), and reached the regional finals three times. Meanwhile, The UWI team in Barbados, inducted into the premier leagues as a development experiment, took over, winning all the championships, setting new levels of performance dominance and established an image of invincibility.
With the change of leadership at the WICB from Julian Hunte to Dave Cameron, the tripartite arrangement came to an end. According to Vice-Chancellor Beckles, “West Indies cricket has been for years without an academy—the only international team so deprived. There has been growing expression of concern from cricketers about the void that could not have come at a worse time for West Indies cricket. The UWI, concerned about this void, has restored the sponsorship legacy with Sagicor and has re-established the High Performance Centre.”

(L-R) Head Coach at the Academy of Sport, The UWI Cave Hill Campus, Mr. Floyd Reifer, former UWI/ Combined Campuses & Colleges programme (CCC) player and new Regional Sport Coordinator of the Faculty of Sport UWI, Mr. Akeem Dewar, and Cricket all-rounder, Mr. Carlos Brathwaite.
Vice-Chancellor Beckles continued, “The majority of the current test cricketers, including Captain Jason Holder, Vice-Captain Kraigg Braithwaite, young emerging stars like Shai Hope, Shannon Gabriel are all students from the former HPC. The UWI has nurtured these young heroes and wishes to maintain this responsibility in turning West Indies cricket around. There is a younger generation of emerging cricketers who need The UWI’s support, and Sagicor has stepped up to assist. This project must not end, but should be supported as the benefits are obviously very impactful. To this end, The UWI stands ready to continue its role in the rebuilding effort, and looks forward to working intimately with the CWI, the entity tasked with this responsibility.”

The newly transformed Cricket High Performance Centre, in partnership with Sagicor Financial Corporation only, will be in operation in the coming months. Its renewed mission is to provide opportunities for young, talented cricketers in the region to hone their skills in a holistic environment. The Centre comprises modern facilities including the first class 3Ws Oval, outdoor nets, an indoor cricket school as well as a team of qualified coaches, physiotherapists and strength and conditioning specialists. A sports psychologist and nutritionist are also expected to come on board soon. In addition to high performance resources for athletes, the Centre will also offer workshops and certificates focused on the training and all-round development of cricketers.

The Cave Hill Campus’ previously established Sagicor Sports Science laboratories together with this High Performance Centre enables the application of scientific principles to player development as well as testing and analysis services. High performance academies all over the world leverage the use of science in sports, and the aim of this Centre is to ultimately transform the sporting industry in the Caribbean.

Professor V. Eudine Barriteau, Pro Vice-Chancellor and Principal of The UWI Cave Hill Campus who also addressed the media gathering stated, “Coming close behind the establishment of The UWI Faculty of Sport, the launch of this UWI High Performance Centre signals the start of yet another phase in the continued evolution and development of sport at The UWI. Sport has earned its right to be an integral part of any academic environment and certainly of this UWI environment.” She added, “In being sited here, the Centre has chosen a most fitting home, for high performance is part of the Cave Hill brand.”

Over the past ten years, the Cave Hill Campus has been developing players in its cricket programme under the direction of Head Coach, Floyd Reifer, who has developed a comprehensive programme for student cricketers. The Campus has seen many players who have been recruited by regional first class franchises and West Indies teams.

Also addressing the audience were Mrs. Amanda Reifer, Head of Department, Cave Hill Academy of Sport and Dr Akshai Mansingh, Dean of the Faculty of Sport. Mrs. Reifer said, “Today two great unifiers of our region align—The UWI and the glorious game of cricket. We are honoured to be a part of this transformational journey to build on the legacy of the great Sir Frank Worrell, who articulated the view that a cricketer should not have to choose between a cricket career and pursuing tertiary education. The Sagicor-UWI Cricket HPC is yet another demonstration of The UWI’s commitment to serving the people of the region; service to students, stakeholders and the sporting industry.”

Expressing similar sentiments about the role of cricket in the Caribbean, in his remarks, Dean Mansingh said, “The UWI has once again shown its commitment to the region, this time to the “regional sport”. The High Performance Centre has been the bedrock of nurturing young cricket talent, and through the renewed facility, under the Faculty of Sport, top class coaching will be augmented with science and medicine specific to cricket.”

The Sagicor-UWI Cricket High Performance Centre is the first of many specialised training facilities to be established across The UWI’s four campuses through its Faculty of Sport. There are plans to launch a track and field academy at the Mona Campus and a specialised football facility at the St Augustine Campus. Through the Faculty, the University has undertaken the responsibility of ensuring the enhancement of Caribbean sporting excellence among athletes and administrators alike.